When it comes time to decorate a room from scratch it can feel completely overwhelming. Where to start? As someone who designs rooms for a living, I have a five-step process that gets me from A to Z.
1. Gather inspiration
The first thing I do is gather inspiration images for the look or mood I want to achieve and put them all in one place. Usually this is a Pinterest board, but a lot of the time I do it in a simple word doc so I can see everything at once. The goal here isn’t to copy someone else’s design but rather figure out the goals you have for your space. See themes that emerge. This inspiration can become a north star to keep you on track. Don’t limit yourself to one type of image. If you are designing a living room, that doesn’t mean you can’t gather inspiration from a bedroom, a hotel lobby, or even a painting.
2. Measure the room & take photos
Once you have your design direction nailed down it’s time to measure the room. And I don’t just mean the basic length x width of the room. I mean detailed measurements. When measuring wall space, measure from outside of window or door frame to outside of window or door frame since that is where furniture and art will sit. Measure window and door widths from the outside of their frames, and you will need the width of actual doors so you can determine how far they jut into the room.
You can always draw your room out to scale on graph paper or normal paper using an architectural ruler. Or, if you want to get a little fancy you can use a program like Google Sketch Up. It is free and easy to get the hang of (especially for simple plan view drawings)!
3. Plan the layout
Now it is time to figure how the room will best be laid out for your space. I don’t worry about what specific pieces I am going to use yet, I mainly want a space plan to determine traffic flow and best use of the space. I also like to determine where lighting will be.
In the living room below I knew I wanted as much seating as possible and I wanted the sofa to be deep and comfy to encourage people to snuggle in. So – this meant I could fit two long deep sofas and two additional chairs. Because I measured the room, I also now know I will need a 9×12 rug for the space.
Hot tip: You can always reference online furniture stores to get measurements for different types of furniture pieces.
4. Pick out your big pieces, art, and main textiles
Now that you are equipped with what pieces you need it’s time to start picking them out. I usually put everything all together in a mood board. Again – this can be done with several programs but word or pages works great!
This isn’t the time to pick out small accessories like candles and trays but the big furniture items, lighting and the main textiles for the space.
Use the space plan you made as a guide for what to shop for, making sure that what you choose fits in the room.
After picking out and installing your big pieces it’s time to accessorize. This is the time to pick out the final touches that make a room feel finished and designed. Things like candles, plants, books, and ceramics do wonders in giving personality to a room.
And guess what? After this step, you are DONE.