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Where to Start When Decorating Your Home

start decorating

Selecting décor for your home can be overwhelming. There are so many decisions to be made, and without a plan you may end up randomly buying stuff that doesn't add up to a cohesive scheme. Here are some tips from my own design process that can help you decide which home furnishings to select first, and which you should save until the end.

When I approach a new project I always start with the function and layout of the space first. Once that is decided, I move on to the color and furnishings. It is important to select the things that have the fewest options first. Don't paint yourself into a corner (literally) by picking a wall color and then finding it's impossible to match anything to it.

Here is the general order I follow when making selections for an interior space:

1. Built-in finishes (flooring, tile, countertops)

2. Tables and case goods (dressers, buffets, bookshelves)

3. Large upholstery items (sofas, chairs)

4. Lighting

5. Accessories (artwork, pillows, bedding, tabletop décor, area rugs)

6. Paint color

The items are listed from those with the fewest choices to those with the mot. This method helps the decorating process in two ways. First you won't be left with the most limited items at the end, finding that none of the options in your price range work with your other selections. And second, it reduces overwhelm because each decision eliminates a large number of color and style options in the next (bigger) category.

Remember, if you are not changing the built-in finishes in your space, your first step is arlready done for you. Those existing finishes will need to be taken into account when selecting everything else.

So what if you fall in love with an amazing rug or piece of art that you want to decorate the entire room around? Using a statement piece as inspiration for the style and color scheme of your room can absolutely work. The key is to not pick out all the accessories first and then ry to work backwards to the more limited items. Instead, take your inspiration piece and use it to inform the decisions at the top of the list.

Here's an example: say you found an area rug you absolutely love for your family room. Look for a coffee table, end tables, and media cabinet in wood tones or other hard finishes that compliment that rug. Then, pull a few colors from it to help you select the sofa and chairs. (I've written more about this technique here.)

If you found these tips helpful be sure to subscribe to the Pretty Neat weekly email! You'll get a short and sweet message each week with my best advice for a more beautiful and functional home. Click here to sign up, and you'll also receive my FREE guide: How to Get Rid of Stuff!

Make it fab!


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