Decorating 101: How To Decorate Your Own Home

So, you want to do it yourself? That's amazing! Especially if you have both the time to devote to the process and the patience to do the research. Plus, it makes perfect sense if this is a first apartment or home because you may not have the budget for an interior designer's services.

But don't be fooled...! Even if you have a reasonable budget, and particularly if you have a full-time job, hiring a designer should save you money. Never mind the time issue or the access to products and discounts that designers offer, just avoiding the cost of mistakes alone is a good reason to consider using a designer. 

On the other hand, decorating can be really fun and hugely rewarding. Here are the basic steps to follow for any decorating project. Try not to skip any! 

look, don't buy

A walk through a great furniture store can inspire your entire scheme. You can look, but only if you don't take your credit cards and promise not to buy a thing... just yet! 

Going furniture shopping without a design plan is like grocery shopping on an empty stomach. Not a good idea! 

You're going to fall in love with some major piece like a pink floral sofa or a huge dining room table, and then spend your time trying to make it work and cohesively fit together.

measure everything & create a floor plan

You have to create your own floor plans and elevations (drawings of each wall of your house). You can do this manually with some grid paper, a ruler and a pencil. Or, you can use one of the best apps available such as Floor Plan Creator, Roomscan Pro, Magicplan or Photo Measures.

For elevations, a shortcut is to take a photo of each wall, print it,  blow it up and write the critical measurements directly on the printout. For example: 

Note the size of your windows and any wall space below them where furniture might be placed. You need these measurements -- any built-ins such as fireplaces, the width of doorways and staircases -- to understand the scale of your rooms. These steps are essential to the start of any design project.

play with furniture placement

You can buy a traditional kit of cutouts, make your own or use your new app. We prefer the old-fashioned way of cutting out pieces from grid paper to use on floor plans. Even sophisticated designers who use AutoCAD software still find it helpful to sit with clients and move these little cutouts around a traditional floor plan. This will show you exactly the shapes and sizes of furniture you can comfortably fit into your rooms.

find your style!

Finding your style revolves around how you plan to use your rooms and what you want them to look like. The two go hand-in-hand. For example, is your living room also the place where you want to work, watch TV or display books? Or perhaps that's all going into your bedroom or live-in kitchen. Do you want a casual, kid-friendly aesthetic, or do you prefer t minimal, well-edited, sleek room? The only way to narrow down your style is to build a file from magazine clippings and website photos. Beware of Pinterest: it can be a great resource, but you have to get past the huge amount of bad content. 

Eventually, your file should reveal a style that you gravitate towards over and over again. Visit the paint store and get chips that match every colour in your palette for walls, floors, fabrics, furniture and art. You don't have to decide which one goes just yet. Stores like Little Greene, Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams and Farrow & Ball have great paint chip cards. Glue the chip cards to a piece of cardboard to make your own colour fan, which you will refer to often. 

study the rooms on your short list

A formula will emerge. Where do these rooms use strong colour? On the walls or only on accents and small furniture? What about pattern? Is it reserved for decorative cushions or is bold pattern found on walls and floors? 

We recommend studying your short list and slowly piecing together a trend, at which point browsing online can be beneficial because you will know exactly what to look for. Narrow it down to three options, perhaps with different paint colours, furniture and accessories in each at which point you'll be able to select one final design that works for you.