Living Room Virtual Design: A Client Project

Are you waiting for the right time to decorate your living room, but that time just never seems to come?

If this is you, here is the five-step design process to help. This is the method I use when I’m working with someone who wants to get started on decorating a room, but can’t seem to take that first step. 

I wanted to share these 4 steps so that you can use them on your own room makeover.

Step 1 – Space Plan

The first step in the process with any room is going to be space planning. You don’t have to use a fancy tool online. You can space plan on a piece of paper. There are free online floor planning tools, and I show you these options here.

floor planning tool living room

All you need to do to get started with your space plan is first think about how you want to use the room. Do you want to play guitar? Do you want to have a little workspace?

Then, you’re going to want to get out your tape measure and measure the length and width of your room. Mark on the paper where the windows and doors are located. You don’t have to be super exact.

You want to use a quarter inch scale. That sounds fancy. It just means every quarter inch is a foot. That’s an easy thing to find on any ruler. If your room is 20 feet, that means on your piece of paper, you’re going to draw 5 inches. If your room is 16 feet the other way, you’re going to make that dimension 4 inches. This helps you know you’ve got the right dimensions for your room on paper.

Next, print out a floor planning tool or you can buy one on Amazon. These tools typically are quarter inch scale. It helps you to draw the pieces of furniture onto your piece of paper. You can see what fits without physically moving things.  (Here’s an example of my paper floor plan for my living room).

When you’re working on your space plan, you’re going to want to consider some of the things that you’re going to keep in your room. Make sure that you draw those items into your space plan.

The reason why I like to plan with the PDF that I provided for you is because I like to cut it out. This way I don’t have to do a lot of drawing. I can just drag the items around into different configurations. 

This is the final floor plan that we came up with for the person I was helping. She had two couches that were definitely going to stay. She wanted to be able to watch TV, as well as, entertain and have good conversation space.

Step 2 – Find Color and Style Inspo

Step number two is a little bit more fun. You’re going to look for inspiration. Whether you like to look in magazines or want to look on Pinterest, you’re going to go through and pin or cut out a bunch of pictures of living rooms that you like.

Be sure, when you’re doing this, you don’t look at living rooms that have architectural features as the main thing you like about them. Select rooms where you like the colors or the style of furniture.  Do not select the rooms where you love a giant stone fireplace that your living room doesn’t have. Try to focus on 5 to 10 photos, not more than that, of living rooms that you like. 

Once you pin these images or look at these images, look at the descriptors on the pin or in the article. What is a common style that you’re seeing? For example, a client I was helping sent me her images, and I could tell right away that her style was mid-century modern. This helps you when you start planning your room. Look for those style cues.

The second thing is to look for your color inspiration. I’ve done a lot of previous articles about how to find your color inspiration. In this case, the color inspiration of the images she chose clearly had a lot of pink in it and some neutral colors. 

Color and style inspo photos

If you don’t have a clear picture of the colors in the images, then you want to use one of the hacks. Find a rug, a piece of art, or a fabric that you love. Use the color palette in those things to help set your color palette in your room.

Once you know what your style is and what your colors are, this makes shopping much easier. It also saves you money when you’re shopping. You don’t spend money on things that don’t fit with your style. 

I know some of you are going to say, “I don’t have just one style.” Nobody does. Nobody has just one clear-cut style and that is great. This is what makes your space more unique to you.

Most spaces that we live in are a combination of styles. You just want to use that style as a guideline. You will have things in your room, like your grandmother’s antique desk, that are not mid-century modern. You still want to keep them, and that’s perfectly fine. It will make your space look unique.

Step 3 – Take an Inventory Of What’s Staying

I want you to take an inventory of the things in your room and figure out which things you want to keep. Do you want to keep the sofa? Do you want to keep some chairs that you have? Do you want to keep a coffee table? Make a list of the things that you’re keeping and make sure that those go with your color palette. 

In the case of this person that I was helping, she just had two brand new couches. Those were going to stay and that impacted her color palette because the couches were a stony gray color. We incorporated that into our color palette.

mood board Canva

Step 4 – Determine What’s Missing

The next step is you’re going to want to figure out what pieces you lack. Start shopping for those. When you decide what furniture or accessories are missing first, you tend to not overspend and waste money on items you do not need.

Step 5 – Put Everything On a Mood Board

The final step is to pull everything together on a mood board. If you have existing pieces, take a quick picture of them. Put them onto a mood board. Take screenshots of all the things that you’re thinking about buying and put those onto a mood board. I did a previous post where I talked about how to do a mood board in Canva. It’s something that even beginners can do. 

Once you have everything the way you like it on a mood board, you can start shopping. This is what my client’s mood board design looked like.

mood board canva

Now you’ve got a clear picture in your mind. As a result, your living room is going to have an intentional look to it. It’s not going to look like everything wound up there just because you randomly selected the items. It’s going to look like all the things go together well. You save money in the process.

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