Can’t Decide Where to Start Decorating?

If you’re finding this post, you know that I always suggest starting with ONE ROOM and then choosing a color palette for that room. If you don’t know where to start decorating a room, redecorating a room or starting from scratch this post walks you through a four step process.

If you’ve just moved, it can feel overwhelming. I’ve been there, too. I’m going to make it so easy for you to make progress on one room at a time. You don’t have to do all the rooms at once.

I like to start with my living room because it’s the room that most people see. Once you get one room like you want it, you start with the next room. Decorating your home should NOT be like an HGTV makeover episode. In the example below I walk through the steps with a reader for her bedroom.

Before we start decorating, step zero is to pick your colors for the room. That’s something I talked about in a previous post. This is what you do after you know what colors you want to work with.

If you follow these steps, you’re going to end up spending less money in the process. The first three steps are pretty quick, but the LAST step is the one that will really take your room to the NEXT LEVEL.

Step One – What You Can’t Change

Step one is figure out the non-negotiables. What are the things in your room that you can’t really change? I recently walked through this process with a reader, Christi.

A lot of times, that’s the flooring, or the paint. It’s the things that you can’t change at this point in the game. Take an inventory of the things in your room that will be there after you’re finished the same as they are on day one.

In the room I’m working on, that’s the floor (dark wood) and the wall color.

Step Two – What to Keep

Step two is you want to look at your room and you want to see which things do I want to keep.

For Christi, she wanted to keep her flooring and the cream paint. She also had a dresser that was going to stay for the time being (but not permanently). Take a photo of those items and upload them into Canva.

Since the dresser will not be here long term, we didn’t choose the other furniture in this style. Christi’s style is more like Pottery Barn. It’s OK if you don’t know your exact style if you have one retail store you like, that can give you an idea of what style you like.

Step Three – Determine What’s Missing

Step three is to figure out what you’re missing. Let’s say you need a chair or you’re missing artwork. You might need some accessories, drapes, etc.

Make a list of the things you feel like you’re need for the room to feel complete at the end. You may find that you will add things to this list as you are making your way through step four.

For Christi, she wanted a new bed, a rug, nightstands, lamps and a bench. She didn’t have an inspiration piece, but she prefers blue to green as an accent color. This is a great time to find a rug you like and use that as the inspiration. This is what we did and here’s the rug with the colors.

color palette

Step Four – Mood Board

Step four is called a mood board. This is where you’re going to pull all the pieces together, you can either do that on a piece of paper, or I’m going to show you how to do it on your computer in this video.

This will show you how I prepare a mood board and just how easy it is. Even if you’re not that tech savvy, You can do the same thing on a piece of paper, but I’ll be using an app called Canva.

There’s a free version of Canva. Here are the steps (you can see them in practice in video above).

  • Open up Canva. And I like to use a vertical. You’ve already determined what you want the color palette for your room to be (or you can by using one of these four hacks). In this example, the color palette inspiration was a piece of fabric.
  • Upload a picture or a screenshot of the fabric. Add it to the mood board.
  • I found a sample of the paint, click Upload and upload that paint color to your mood board.
  • Another non negotiable is flooring. In this case, I found a similar floor on Home Depot and I took a screenshot of it, I uploaded it using the upload key. As you pull things into your board you can move them around and resize them.
  • In step two I looked at which things in my room that I want to keep. I have a headboard I want to stay and I found a very similar bed, I took a screenshot of it, and I uploaded it to my board.
  • Pro tip – you can remove the background of any image by clicking edit photo and the tap “remove the background”. You can try out a bunch of different rugs this way. It is the beauty of this process because you can try out a ton of different rugs and see how they go with your floor and your paint without buying them. This is a game changer.
  • Once I find a rug I like I took a picture of it (or screenshot) and I add it to my mood board. Now I can see how these pieces work together.
  • Next step is to add a chair. I already have a chair which I’m going to drag it over into my room.
  • I want a dark wood dresser because I want to use something that I feel like goes with my flooring. I found one that I like and I add that to the mood board. This is a really great way to experiment with things before you buy them. You can save you a lot of money and time.

I’m going to drag all the things into my room until I’m happy with the way this board looks.

For example, I found artwork and tested out different options above my bed. I tried different lamps.

If you want to move things around, you want to click on the “position” at the top and click layers. Then you can see all of your layers. If I want to move the drape behind the bed, you drag that layer down below the bed.

This is what my room is really going to look like. I’ve almost got all the things in here.

Dispersing Your Colors Around the Room

I started with my color palette. The important thing about the color palette that makes it look like something a designer did is you want to use the color palette all around your room and a mood board helps you to see how you do that.

  • Blue – There is blue in the in the rug, the pillows and the bench.
  • Cream – There is cream in the drapes, the bed and the paint.
  • Warm Peach – There is peach in the pillow and the rug.
  • Brown – There is brown in the floor, the rug, and the nightstand.

What makes your color palette look intentional is that you sprinkle the colors all around your room. Look at your mood board and see what’s missing.

A mood board really gives you an excellent opportunity to plan out your design and test out pieces before you buy them, which can save you a lot of time and money.

With a mood board you can try it on in your room before you buy. I can make my room come together on this board before I make it come together in my room. It’s a GREAT way to test out things that you are considering buying through Facebook marketplace.

Even though I said this was four steps. The fourth step is obviously something that takes a little bit more time but you kind of need each of those other steps first, before you work on step four, which is really the fun part.

You need to know what can I change? What things am I keeping what things do I need and then you pull it all together on a mood board and that’s how you really make your room look intentional.

To see exactly how to choose your colors. I’ve got four hacks for doing that.

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