Before starting on any decorating adventure, ask yourself, "What do I like?" Think about what patterns, colors, and styles stop you in your tracks. Dig a little deeper and identify your favorite scenes, landscapes, and pictures. You may not be able to say exactly why you like something, but hang on to the idea if it catches your eye.
While inspiration is all around, honing in on a few key areas can help make gathering ideas easier. Look to your wardrobe, tear out pages of magazines, save images you find online, and take pictures of the scenery around you. Lay it all out and start identifying common themes and characteristics in the items you've gathered.
Planning a Facelift
If you already have a foundation in place and don't foresee any major changes, set your sights on new items that will jive with your existing components, but will also add a fresh perspective. Plan with your existing items in mind. Acknowledging, rather than ignoring, them will make the final result more satisfactory, since all the elements -- new and old -- will look cohesive.
Plan Your Investments
If you're planning a larger decorating makeover, ask yourself, where are you willing to invest some money? If your sofa has seen better days and it's time for an upgrade, start your decorating there. Find a sofa you love and design around the piece. A main element such as a sofa, dining room table or bedding often sets the tone for your room's style and can be the reference point for other decorating decisions.
Take stock of all the possible elements a room will need: furniture, rugs, lighting, accessories, wall decor, window treatments, and paint. Identify types of things you like for each element and what will work in your room. Will you need table lamps or floor lamps? Blinds and drapes, or just drapes? It's also a good idea to take measurements and make a rough sketch of the room to help you plan the space and decide what will fit when you're out shopping.
Brush Up on the Basics
Pro designers are professionals because of their education and experience. When embarking on your own decorating, it's helpful to get familiar with the basics of decorating. Read up on color, scale, texture, pattern mixing, and furniture arranging. Even if hiring a professional is out of scope, consider working with a designer on a consultation basis, which will give you some guidance for a smaller price.
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Choose a Color Scheme
Identifying a color scheme will help guide the other decisions you'll be making, such as choosing accessories. Go into a decorating project with a color scheme in mind, but allow for some flexibility. For example, you may find a blue rug with green accents that you love, but you had it in your mind to use yellow as an accent. A rug can be a major component of a room, so you may have to ask yourself if you want to alter your original ideas to incorporate this rug.
Choose a Style
From the outset of your redecorating, having an idea of what styles you want to incorporate will make the project easier and your final look flow better. Mixing and matching styles is a common decorating practice, and knowing what style (or styles) you are going for will help you identify items to buy, whether you want to go glam, rustic, sleek, classic, or a combination.
Watch and learn the secrets to defining your style
Think about what you'll use the room for. In a bedroom, will you want a place to sit and read, or will you need storage for bed linens? In a living room, will you need to add extra seating on occasion for big gatherings?
Work with What You Have
Look at what you already have and decide what to keep and what to replace. Consider bringing in pieces from other areas of your home. If you have a chair that you love in your bedroom, but it really just acts as a holding spot for clothes, think about relocating it to your living room. Redecorate in a way that brings the piece into the fold of its new home.
Update What You Have
When brand-new is out of scope for your project, rebrand what you already have. Slipcover a sofa, reupholster a chair, or paint a piece of furniture and then layer in less expensive updates, such as throw pillows or lamps, for an all-around update.
Keep Lists Going
Make a note of things you see so you know where to go when you're ready to make purchases. Carry a list of items you already have, as well as swatches or photos to reference when you're out and about.
If you're looking for something new, don't be afraid to try on a trend or two. Designer and color consultant Khristian A. Howell spills the secrets on how to approch trends in this video.
Putting It All Together
Assembling a look happens as you work through the project. As you're acquiring new items, think about how they will work together and how they will fit in the overall look of a room. Keep track of receipts and tags so you can make returns and exchanges easily.
Edit, Edit, Edit
Don't be afraid to change things up and move or remove items altogether. Play around with different furniture placements and accessory arrangements until you find a look you like.
It may take months for you to get your decor exactly how you want it. And that's OK. Letting your look change and evolve over time will create a room that has personality and depth, rather than a space that looks like it was thrown together in a weekend. As you travel, visit different flea markets, estate sales, stores, and showrooms, and become exposed to new ideas. You'll continue to find pieces and concepts to implement. As you work on your look and make changes, you'll become even more in tune to what you like and will be more skilled in how to create a room you love.
Designer and blogger Erin Gates explains her tricks for pulling a look together and where to go for inspiration. Watch and learn!