Moving into a new home can be one of life’s great joys, but it can also be a time of uncertainty, especially when it comes to decorating. How do you make your space look its best while reflecting your personal sense of style? Do it well and you’ll end up with a comfortable, happy home. Do it poorly and you’ll end up with a hodge-podge of furniture, fabrics, and paint colors that never congeal into a pleasing whole. With a little planning, and by following the same steps used by professional interior designers, you’ll have a much greater chance of success.
1. Don’t Start in the Furniture Store
Many have heard the advice to avoid grocery shopping when you’re hungry because it leads to poor choices. The same holds true for furniture stores – don’t go shopping in a panic, just because you have an empty home. Yes, you need a sofa. But if you pick the pink-striped sectional just because you like it in the store, without taking measurements or thinking about the rest of the room, you’re stuck with it. The rest of the room will have to be built around that sofa, and if it’s too large for space it will look forever awkward.
Start in the room you’re looking to furnish, armed with a measuring tape and a notepad.
2. Know Your Measurements
Matching the scale of furniture to the scale of a room is critical. A deep sectional sofa can easily overpower a small room and svelte chairs can get lost in a wide-open loft. Before you start designing, measure the length and width of each room you intend to decorate, along with the ceiling height and elements that could get in the way – stairs, columns, radiators, and other obstructions. It’s also a good idea to measure window openings, along with the wall space below, above and to the sides of each one, to get ready for window coverings.
3. Create A Floorplan
Once you have the measurements of your room, it’s time to put them to use with a floor plan that gives you a bird’s eye view of the entire home.
Once you have the outline of the space, start experimenting with the placement of furniture, making sure that the footprint of each piece is scaled to match the size of the drawing.
4. Decide How You Want to Live
This is the tricky part, and there are no right or wrong answers. Rooms can be traditional or modern, formal or relaxed, and visually warm or cool
The decoration of a home for someone who regularly hosts large dinner parties, for instance, should be different from home for someone who eats out at restaurants every night. The person who plans to host lavish fundraisers should have a different living room than the person who dreams only of crashing in front of the TV.
5. Tape It Out
To take ideas on a floor plan one step farther, use painter’s tape in the real space to outline where the furniture will be placed on floors and against walls.
6. Develop a Budget
There’s no getting around the math: If you splurge on an unexpectedly expensive chair, you’ll have less money available for the rest of the home.
You can still make an exception if you find a one-of-a-kind dining table, he noted, but in order to pay for it, you have to be thoughtful about where else you can cut back.
7. Plan the Phases
Finishing drywall, refinishing hardwood floors, and painted ceilings are all messy work. If at all possible, it’s better to have this type of work completed before moving any furniture or accessories into space.
If it can’t be avoided, seal large furniture under plastic drop cloths and accessories in boxes with tape to protect them.