Robert and I are Texas-bound and boarding a plane today for the Lowe’s Spring Makeover! I’m DYING to see how it all turns out in a few days. (You can follow all of our progress on my Instagram stories here.)
With all of the designing behind the scenes for the bathroom we’ll be making over and the plans swirling around in our heads for the brick Colonial that we’ll finally have the keys to next week, the two of us got to talking the other day about all of the little details and preparations it really takes to make an entire room come together exactly the way we want it.
It can get overwhelming. And with about 14 rooms in the new place, we’re nowhere close to being done with the planning phase. Considering this is only our second house, we still aren’t sure if we really know exactly what we’re doing, but we’ve had a lot of practice at this point. So we thought it would be a great idea to fully breakdown our process for designing the perfect room, if you ever feel lost in your own room/house design planning too.
13 Steps to Design the Perfect Room:
- Find your style.
You’re probably sitting there like, “Duh, Lauren.” But it’s worth mentioning. Before I figured out what was really “us” in our home, I felt completely lost about how to decorate our empty rooms. There were too many great ideas out there and a million possible different directions. There was a big process involved to sort through my identity crisis, but once I figured out “our style”, everything fell into place.
You can learn more about the whole process for finding your own style here. Sometimes all it takes is a peek in your closet. Use 2-3 adjectives to describe how you want your home to feel- peaceful, cozy, vibrant, lively, warm, moody, airy, formal, casual, beachy, glam? Whatever they are, write them down and stick to them.
2. Decide on your room’s functional needs.
Ask yourself what your room is currently lacking that would make it function better for your family. What are some storage solutions you could find? If you have very limited space, what are some pieces of furniture that could serve a dual purpose? How do you use the space day-to-day and what are some changes to the room that could make your routine easier?
3. Keep in mind who will use the space.
I won’t even attempt to incorporate a sofa without a slipcover anymore because I love the ability to throw our upholstery in the wash if Olivia comes down with a stomach bug or Lola tracks in who-knows-what from the backyard.
We always prefer soft textiles, easy-to-clean pieces, distressed tables that can take a beating. As pretty as “unplugged” living rooms are, we’re a movie-loving family, so I know any room with a couch ultimately will need a TV. And we’re all hot-natured and live in a hot climate, so ceiling fans are a must. That’s just us. An empty-nester couple with goldfish for pets and living in Canada would likely have totally different needs.
4. Write a wish list.
Have a brainstorm session and jot down every single thing you can think of that you would want for a room and use that as your jumping off point to decide how much you’ll need to spend. Prioritize your list from most-important to least-important and talk it over with your spouse to decide what projects need to be done or what needs to be bought for everyone to be happy.
5. Create an inspiration board.
Any time I design a room for a friend, I always give them “homework” to pin some of their favorite ideas on Pinterest. Robert and I have a massive one with all of our ideas for the new house right now. I keep Pinterest boards for every room in my house whenever I’m feeling uninspired and need some inspiration.
6. Take measurements and plan a layout.
I used to eyeball everything in a room and always ended up in a pickle. Last fall, I discovered this free website called Roomstyler to plan room layouts, and it’s basically like The Sims on steroids. (Did you ever play that game just to design houses and didn’t even care if your characters died? Nerd alert over here.) Here’s a previous post about how to use Roomstyler, if you want to try it out.
If anything, sketching out a general layout plan on paper goes a long way so you’re not stuck with tons of furniture crammed into a tight space.
7. Hash out a hard budget.
Get real with the numbers down to the penny and don’t forget to include project supplies like paint brushes, drop cloths, nails, and the little things that add up. I like to keep a spreadsheet along with all of the links to items I plan to use, so I have all of my resources in one place. Try to leave a little wiggle room in the budget to help with unexpected expenses or projects that go awry. (Not that any project has ever gone wrong around here. Snicker snicker.) Here’s a more in-depth post to help with budgeting for a room makeover.
8. Think about the rest of your house.
Try to keep a general flow going from one room to the next (knowing your style makes it easy to do after a while). You don’t have to paint one room bright red and one room calm blue and one room sunny yellow, unless you want to rock the bold look like that. Keeping your scheme flowing from room to room makes your home feel larger because it’s not choppy. (I shared some of my favorite neutral paint colors in this post, if that helps.)
9. Make a plan with fabrics, flooring, tile, fixture finishes, and paint.
Always choose your fabrics before anything else. It’s much easier to find a paint color to coordinate with a fabric pattern than the other way around. After fabric and paint, decide on furniture and fixture finishes, always keeping in mind your 3 adjectives you chose for defining “your style”. Look at all of your colors and patterns and textures all together to see if all of the elements are cohesive and adjust as you need.
10. Design a mood board.
I mean… I guess you don’t have to do this, but this is my favorite part. Sometimes I can’t really decide if I’m happy with the room inside of my head unless I spill it all out into a mood board. If you can see the room pulled together on a mood board and end up not liking it, you won’t have to pay the price of a bad decision later.
My favorite site to use is Polyvore.com to make design boards. And it’s free. Woot!
11. Go shopping and keep swatches handy.
When I visit thrift stores or antique shops, I like to keep paint and fabric swatches along with room measurements in my purse. It takes out the guess work.
12. Go trendy in the accessories.
I like to keep furniture more classic and let the trendy flag fly with accents instead. It’s easier and inexpensive to change up later when trends fade. But, hey, if you have a more daring style, go nuts! Just ignore this one, seriously.
13. Add personal touches that tell your story.
We looooove to fill our rooms with items from our childhood or pieces from our relatives’ past around here (like in this post). Those pieces are what make a house a reflection of your family, and I mean, they’re free so why not? And they’re pretty fab conversation starters when guests come to visit. A room that looks magazine-worthy is pretty and all, but nothing can beat a room that is decorated from the heart.
That’s our brain on “planning mode”. It’s a lot, but it’s become second nature for us. Robert and I usually share our ideas with each other about a room, we spend some time measuring and searching for resources, and we bust out the power tools and paint brushes to make it happen.
We like to set deadlines for ourselves so that we actually get it done. (Like, we have this Memorial Day cookout coming up, so let’s have the kitchen makeover finished by this date.) We’ve learned to love the process because it keeps us communicating and contributing our own creativity and skills to make it a team effort.
Do you have any designing and planning methods that you use to help your rooms come together in your own home? Or are you more of a “wing it” and it still turns out beautiful kind of person? However you do it, make it a reflection of you and your family and own it, baby.
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