Whether it’s for a living room in your new home or for a small bedroom you’ve been meaning to decorate, gathering inspiration and dreaming up ideas for how to decorate a room in your home is always fun and exciting. When it comes to the actual designing part, though, it can quickly feel daunting and overwhelming. Where do you even begin?
For many people, the challenge often involves trying to do everything at once. You know you have to pick a paint color but should the furniture come first? In that case, should I start with a furniture layout for the space? But what about the art piece that I really want to hang up in the room? Maybe that will help me figure out where to put everything else? And so the cycle goes.
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We like to think that designing a room is like decorating a cake—you can’t think about the frosting when you don’t even have your batter. Take the time to figure out the foundational details—floor plan, layout—before you get to any decorating.
Still not sure how to design a room from start to finish? Check out our step-by-step guide below that breaks down the process of decorating a room, from planning the setup to adding the final finishing touch. Trust us, you’ll want to pocket this for all your design projects from here on out.
1. Assess Your Space
The most important first step with any home design project is to ask yourself the basic questions about the room you are designing.
Is it a public or private space?
How much time do you spend here?
How do you want the space to work for your life?
Your needs for your master bedroom are different from those for your living room and dining space, which are gathering spots for lounging and entertaining. But maybe you want a seating area in your bedroom. If so, do you see yourself using it alot? How will it play into your everyday life?
Taking the time to assess these general questions will help you determine what you need for a specific space and thus inform all the decisions to come, from your budget to the right furniture.
2. Consider Your Needs
You know what kind of room you want, now think about how you’ll use it. Being clear about your needs is crucial, as it will help determine the furniture you need for your space. You don’t want to make purchases that are hard to walk back on later.
With more people working from home and families homeschooling, we’re also asking a lot more of our spaces these days. So keep that in mind along with who shares the space with you and their needs as well.
Do you need to work in a small play area for young kids in your living room?
Turn a spare bedroom into a TV room?
Have a cat that claws at anything upholstered?
Add an office in your bedroom?
Knowing how you want to use the space for will guide the pieces you put in it!
3. Decide On Your Style
If you know us, you knew this was coming! Bringing your personal style into your space is one of the most important parts in designing a room. But it can also feel challenging if you’re not sure what your style is.
Start by getting yourself inspired. Spend time browsing Pinterest, Instagram, and some design blogs, saving all the things you like. If you’re designing a bedroom, archive any paint color ideas, cool furniture shapes, and even bedroom storage pieces that stand out to you. This is all about information (and inspiration) gathering, so make it fun and leisurely for yourself.
Once you’ve gathered a handful of images and design ideas, look over everything you’ve saved and then edit your findings down to your favorites and the ideas that make the most sense for your space. For instance, if you love minimalism but have young messy kids, you know that the sleek all-white look won’t fly, but you can still consider white furniture that’s kid-friendly.
4. Come Up With Your Layout
Many people skip this step, but finding the right layout is incredibly important. Whether you’re working with a small bedroom or a spacious living room, planning out where furniture will go will make everything that comes after a million times easier.
Consider the architectural features of your room that could limit how you use the space. For example, you might have a big bedroom that can fit a full-size seating area but there’s only one wall where you can actually place a sofa. Or maybe your dining room has no windows, which means you’ll likely have to take advantage of the vertical wall space and invest more in light fixtures. You might also be at the mercy of outlets where you’ll have to put your TV.
Spend the time to plan out what you want and where you want to place things. And don’t be afraid of layout hacks, like floating your furniture. Getting creative with a solid layout is guaranteed to completely change how you think about and use your space in the end.
5. Plan Your Budget
Now we move into the necessary not-so-fun part: Money planning. In simple terms, furniture is expensive, so deciding on a budget for your room and being firm about how much you want to spend is essential. If you’re not one for hard and fast numbers, give yourself a budget range.
A good jumping-off point is to think about what are your investment pieces and what are things you can skimp on. If you’re designing a small bedroom with limited storage space, do you want to budget money for a dresser? If you want to paint the bedroom, will it be one wall or the entire room? Can you measure and calculate how much paint you’ll need?
Use this step to come up with a rough outline of furniture, decor, and accent pieces and how much you want to spend on each.
6. Pick Your Color Palette
The last step in the planning process is to come up with the color scheme for your space. Whether you paint your walls or not, having a focused color palette is what will set your room apart.
Look back to some of the inspiration you pulled and see if there’s a common color theme. If not, do you prefer a more neutral home? Or do you like to have a few pops of color in any given room? Or are you all for color and ready to go full-steam with a bold technicolor bedroom?
There’s no right or wrong way to approach color, but if you’re a design beginner, we suggest sticking to a considered palette of two to three light neutral shades.
7. Lay The Foundational Furniture
O.K. Now things start to pick up. Using your room layout as a guide and following the rough outline of what you need, you can finally start shopping.
Begin with your foundation furniture, which are your investment pieces and the main designs that will take up the most room and set the tone in your space. In a living room, these are usually the sofa or sectional, TV stand, and armchairs. In a bedroom, it’s likely the bed and any bedroom storage pieces, like a dresser or armoire.
While shopping, be sure to stay true to your style, which you should now have a good idea about. Once you nail down the general foundational pieces, you’ll have a much easier time decorating the rest of your room.
8. Add Accent Pieces
Move on to your accent furniture, which are things like your bedroom nightstands, living room coffee table, office bookcases, etc.
Be sure to consider your space and the function of these pieces in the room. What’s the best floor lamp height for your living room? How many levels do you need your bookshelf to be? Would your bedroom feel cramped with two bedside tables actually? Or do you need to add a bench for a catchall that also rounds out the look in your bedroom?
Accent pieces are great for creating contrast in a room. Think wood nightstands if you have an upholstered bed, or go for a slim coffee table if you have an overstuffed sofa.
9. Mix Materials & Textures
Speaking of contrast, you’ll want to also keep an eye out for accent furniture featuring interesting materials and textures.
Think of them as the secret ingredients that ties a room together, be it natural-fiber accents, leather pieces and cowhide touches, or grainy rough-hewn wood furniture. Like your color palette, these details will help make your space appear more layered and give a room that “wow” factor.
Textiles are an easy way to bring in a diverse mix of materials and textures. For instance, you can combine plush velvet and light linen designs in a bedroom for a chic and airy pairing. Or you can lean into metals and mix brass with iron and steel designs for an industrial edge in the living room or bedroom. The key is to experiment with a wide mix of textures and materials.Shop This Look
10. Decorate With Finishing Touches
The last step is also the one most of us look forward to: Adding in the finishing touches. If your furniture is mostly neutral, you can easily bring color and texture to your space by curating thoughtful finishing touches. These usually consist of small decor touches like art, pillows, baskets, trays, rugs, and unique items that will light up a room.
No matter your space, be it your home office or a guest bedroom, opt for finishing touches that can easily be swapped out over time or seasonally. For example, you can liven up an all-white bedroom in the spring with bright patterned pillows and wall art, but you can also just as easily warm up the room in the winter with a few silver throws and graphic black-and-white pillows that don’t veer away from your palette.
Most importantly, remember to stay true to your style. Your completed room should reflect your personal style and design aesthetic!
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