Creating a Decorating Plan

Designer's Desk
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With all of the information (and inspiration) in magazines and on the web, it is easier and more affordable than ever to decorate your home yourself. However, if you can’t visualize what a room or space will look like after it is done, how do you even know where to begin? Start by creating a decorating plan.

Planning is essential to not only staying on track during a decorating project but also to finishing well. Here’s how to create a decorating plan that works.

Keep a Notebook or Journal of Ideas

You can purchase an unlined sketchbook for this, or a standard notebook will work fine. Fill with photos of rooms, furniture, artwork or accessories that you like; paste in paint and fabric samples or colors that you are drawn to; jot down any other inspirational ideas that come to mind. You should begin noticing a certain style and color scheme emerging.

Using Your Notebook, Make a Priority List

Many designers will have you do this first, but researching ideas before deciding what to do may help you see your existing furnishings and decor in a whole new light. What is in your notebook that you would like to incorporate in your space? What DIY ideas did you run across that might work for you? Can you transform any of your existing pieces?

Decide on Your Budget

To keep yourself out of serious financial trouble, you’ve got to decide if you have $15 or $15,000 for your decorating project before you begin. Use your priority list to formulate your budget. To make your project more affordable and manageable, you may want to break your project up into stages. Also, are there some things you already have that you can reuse? Or if you have some things to clear out, have a yard sale or list them on Craigslist or eBay.

Convert Your Journaling Ideas to a Board

This is where your inspirational thoughts become more of a reality. A poster board cut in half will work fine. Start culling some of your favorite ideas from your notebook and place on your board, leaving space between your items. Mix and match until you achieve the look that you want, then paste down.

Use Your Board to Decide Where Things Will Go

This is where you will make your final decisions. It won’t matter how much you loved it on your board if it won’t fit in your space. To make final decisions, use painter’s tape to mask off seating areas, furniture placement, or where to hang artwork or shelving.

Estimate Costs

After you decide what elements will work in your room, start researching prices and availability of your items on your board. (Hint: If you chose a $2000 bed, but your total budget is $500, look for alternatives or reproductions.) Write the item sources and prices on your board beside the item.

Now you have a “design board,” which is basically your decorating plan! A note of warning here: Don’t plan yourself out of all the fun. Leave room in your budget for a few impulse items that you will inevitably run across while shopping.