12 Steps to a Whole New Room
Bypass the expense of an interior designer by following these 12 easy steps to designing a room yourself.
Designing a space from bare bones can be a daunting project to undertake. If you’re uncertain about it, simply use these 12 steps as a guide and you’ll soon be designing like a pro. Remember, there is more of an artistic slant to interior design than scientific, so there aren’t really any strict rules. Consider this guide more of a general roadmap to get you where you want to go rather than a direct route.
1. Focus on Mood
Rather than focusing on the appearance of a room, think about how you’d like it to feel and let that guide your color, texture and furniture choices. For instance, an open and airy, soothing refuge may lead you toward a minimalistic aesthetic featuring natural materials and streamlined furniture. A family room full of energy and life might incorporate vivid patterns and colors. By honing in on mood instead of a certain trend or style, you’ll be able to develop an eclectic room that suits your exact wants and needs.
2. Find Inspiration
When trying to find ideas and inspiration, take an “all of the above” approach by turning to interior design books and magazines, as well as online websites and social media channels. Also, focus on the places you go to for an escape — what characteristics do they have? Do mood boards work for you? Consider making one. If you live by yourself, think of this as an opportunity to get better acquainted with yourself. If you live with others, come together to create a space you all can enjoy.
3. Be Realistic
Instead of designing a space with some ambitious outlook on how your lifestyle should be, it’s important to take things as they are right now. If you have high-energy pets or rowdy kids, go with surfaces and fabrics that are durable, but still visually appealing. Live alone and seldom entertain? You don’t need a big dining table for six taking up valuable floor space. If you have a work-from-home position, turn a temporary office in the living room into a permanent fixture by transforming that rarely used spare bedroom into workspace. And lastly, before you start investing in household items, figure out a reasonable budget to help you prioritize your spending.
4. Eliminate Nonessentials
When revamping a room, begin by getting rid of the things you don’t need, use or love. If designing an empty space from zero, think hard before bringing items in. While there is space in any room for personal objects and things that are meaningful, interior design success begins with the essential and expands out from there.
5. Sketch It Out
If you’d like to develop a floor plan, there are lots of free room design tools on the internet and home design software alternatives to choose from, but planning out your space doesn’t have to be high tech. Simply draw out your ideas on paper, or physically map out furniture positioning on the actual floor with tape to get an idea of scale and traffic flow.
Before purchasing a single stick of furniture, it’s imperative that you measure your space — twice! If not, you may find that the recliner you ordered is too big to fit through the doorway or too tiny for the room.
6. Choose a Color Scheme
Regardless of whether you have your heart set on a bold color palette or if you want to keep things tame and neutral, making these decisions early in the process will help you develop a unified look. Enliven neutral rooms by incorporating accessories that can be swapped out with ease. If you’d like to dedicate your room to a single color, be sure to choose three complementary shades so it stays interesting. If an all-white space appeals to you, holding to shades of white lets you easily mix furniture from different styles and time periods.
7. Finishes First
If your goal is a makeover as opposed to a remodel, you’re going to have to analyze how to add to the room’s existing fixtures, wall color, and flooring to enrich and customize the space without a complete rehab. Starting with a vacant room? Don’t haul in any furniture or accessories before painting walls, refinishing floors, wallpapering, tiling, or installing wall panels and cabinetry.
8. Pick Your Anchor Pieces
When designing a space, such as a living room, choose your anchor piece (typically a sofa) before worrying about things like decorative pillows. Deciding on your largest and most expensive pieces first will: help guarantee you don’t cut corners on quality for the items you use the most, help keep your budget in perspective, and give you a true sense of exactly how much space you have for other things.
9. Secondary Furniture Next
After you’ve chosen an ideal couch, for example, it’s time to look at coffee tables to figure out what styles and sizes work best, or whether something else entirely would be a better fit, like a large pouf. Picked out a rustic farm table for the dining room? Try bringing contrast to the room, with modern metal chairs. Enhance a contemporary upholstered headboard in the bedroom with vintage bedside tables or retro light fixtures.
10. Choose Textiles
At this point you should have a feel for how the space flows, so you can start picking out rugs, drapes, and other textiles like blankets, pillows and bedding to complement the room’s anchor pieces. Use them to bring pattern, color, texture and visual interest.
11. Let There Be Light
A key element of effective interior design is lighting. In general, you’ll want to have as much natural light as possible during the day and an abundance of layered lighting choices for the evening hours — including task lighting, ambient lighting like sconces or table lamps, and decorative options like sculptural pendants. Every corner of the room should be well-lit to help encourage a sense of well-being when it’s dark outside.
12. Add Accessories
Now that all the necessities are in order, stand back and see if there is anything missing. Pick out and hang decorative mirrors, wall art, or framed photographs. Incorporate layers of extra throw blankets and pillows. Use candles, books, plants and other decorative items to style tables and shelves. Add personal touches to add texture and bring the room to life. In short, make it feel like home.