Tina: "I love so many things that I find it almost impossible to make decisions. I've bought things that clash in color, don't fit in my room, or just look totally wrong. I think I have a good sense about what I like I just don't know how to make it all work. I think I need to start at the beginning. How do you do that?"
I'll break it all down...
1. Start with a plan. I don't care if you're a novice, semi-pro, or full-blown professional. You HAVE to have a plan in place to begin. One of the ways to create a plan is to simply write down your objectives. What do you want the room to do for you? How much can you spend? When do you want the job completed? What changes can be made now or later? How much can you spend? Then start having fun writing down all of your favorites. What colors do you like? Do you prefer lots of pattern or very little? The point is to look at your decorating job from a practical point of view before getting caught up in the sometimes overwhelming process of putting it all together. Warning: If you are working with a professional, she/he should have started with this step.
2. Be Realistic. We all want things we can't have, but that doesn't mean we can't dream. I always told my clients to write down anything and everything they could dream up and put it on a wish list, then pull out the things that can be achieved within their budget. Why? Because there are a lot of things that can be done on that wish list. You'd be surprised at the decorating that can be done for little or no money. For example, if you've been dreaming about turning your dining room into a library, office, or craft room, you can achieve this goal by simply reworking and repurposing the furniture. No one says you have to have a dining room table in the center of the room and you certainly don't need a matching dining set. Nor do you need to use Grandma's china cabinet to house china. Stash books, office, or craft supplies on the shelves instead.
3. Create a Style File. I'm a big believer in the visual. Especially since most people can't really see the room they're trying to create. Pinterest is a great resource for decorating ideas and projects and you can create your own dream home board online. Vision boards (the old-fashioned kind of Pinterest board) can still be used. Tear out magazine photos of anything and everything that appeals to you and collect these photos on a bulletin board or in a scrap book. Notice how all of the elements work together and zone in on any patterns. Do you notice that you prefer chrome to brass? What about finish styles....do you like vintage looking items with an aged patina or clean, simple lines without much fuss? Or perhaps you like the mix of old and new. Make notes and keep your ideas in one place.
4. Form follows function. What does this mean? Never sacrifice the comfort of a room for style. I can appreciate different styles of rooms and think they're all beautiful, but that doesn't mean I want to live in them. Your rooms have to work for you. It doesn't matter how good something looks if it's not comfortable to sit on or practical to use. You need to feel, touch, and sit before purchasing. It also has to be practical. Don't buy something merely because it's beautiful. Ask yourself if it's something you really need or could live without.
5. Good design. Does the overall look or design of each piece work? The arms, legs, back and cushions should work well with all of the elements within the room. If the back of a piece of furniture is going to stand out or sit on display in a room, it should have a finished and attractive back. (This is called the furniture’s “profile”) Don’t overlook this important detail.
6. Location and scale. Pieces placed beside one another should look as though they belong together. That’s not to say that you’re trying to achieve a “furniture showroom” look, but rather cohesiveness between each piece. Pay attention to furniture heights, styles, colors and patterns. Does each piece relate to the architecture in the space? Every element, whether fixed or non-fixed, impacts your choices. Furniture should also relate to the people who use it; this includes accommodating special needs such as height or weight.
7. Now you're ready. It's time to start putting it all together. Budget your money wisely and purchase your big ticket items (sofas, beds, cabinets/chests etc.) first as these will get placed in the room first and should be bought according to comfort and longevity. There are plenty of trendy items you can buy in smaller form such as pillows, lamps, and even inexpensive art that will allow you to change up your style without having to decorate from scratch.
And finally, practice. Gather fabrics, paint chips, samples of anything you can get your hands on and group them all together. Does it work? Is there something missing? Is there too much pattern or not enough texture? Have you selected, moved, or used furnishings that are going to get the job done?
Decorating your home doesn't happen overnight so be patient with yourself and the process.
If you have a decorating dilemma and need advice, the first five people who email me (email@example.com) a question will have their question answered. And for those of you who definitely know that decorating was something you were born to do, you have until January 31st to save $200 on my CDP course here!