How To Decorate Series: How To Start Decorating a Room

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Do you enjoy decorating? Do you find it fun or do you struggle with the process?  Design blogs can help with that by providing information and inspiration. Over the years, I’ve shared a lot about how we design, renovate, and decorate our home and I think we have our decorating process nailed down. I’ve talked about decorating ideas, products, layout, and how to DIY – but there’s a few things I haven’t really discussed.

The Why we do the things we do, the factors that impact our decisions, and the order in which we make decorating decisions are just as important as what those decisions are.

To dig into that deeper, I thought it was time I took you on a journey, a decorating journey, and share the A to Z of a single design project. I call it ‘decorating’ but I’m referring to decorating, remodelling, and renovating projects; they’re just different degrees of intensity.

The interesting thing is, no matter how big or small your project, no matter your style, these decisions and steps are always the same. If you find decorating a challenge, perhaps you’ll find ideas on how to overcome some of the obstacles. Over the next few weeks, I’ll share my process of How To Decorate and we’re going to start right from the beginning. Today’s topic: How To Start Decorating A Room. 

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Here’s my belief: we all have the ability to decorate a room. But to decorate a good room that functions well, works over the long run, and is beautiful? That takes planning and forethought.

The first step in decorating a room is deciding which room to decorate. 

If we had a giant stockpile of money, this wouldn’t even be a consideration and we could do all the rooms. But most of us have limited funds and limited time so we have to pick and choose which projects are a priority. So how do you decide? Rarely do our homes feel ‘finished’; there’s always a room in need remodelling or updating! Here’s four factors to consider before you start decorating.

1.  Need

Think about “need” in two ways: qualitatively and quantitatively.

Qualitative needs are emotional needs, those things that you feel. Every inch of your home should be used or enjoyed. Is there a room that you avoid or causes you dread when you enter it? Is there a room that’s been neglected? What room do you avoid showing guests when they come for a visit? Your answers might indicate a qualitative need: is there a room whose redesign would bring you greater happiness in your life?

Quantitative needs are those hard and identifiable needs that translate into numbers. For a home, those numbers could refer to your home value (e.g. adding a second bathroom to increase your home’s value), expenses (e.g. replacing your windows to save on heating costs), or time (upgrading your kitchen to make it a more functional and better working space).

Typically, quantitative needs will be more expensive and you’ll need to save up before you embark on these projects. This brings us to the second consideration, budget.

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Replacing our front window with one that let in light and a breeze was necessary in our non-air conditioned home!

2.  Budget

Knowing your budget beforehand helps you to prioritize which projects to tackle. You might want to work with a smaller budget and complete a smaller project. Or, you might consider saving up until you have a larger budget and tackle a more intensive project. Both kinds can be equally satisfying. Later in the series, we’ll talk about allocating the budget and breaking it down into different elements. But at this stage, it’s enough to have a rough idea of how much money you have to work with so you can at least eliminate projects that are completely out of budget.

3. Timeline

It’s not unusual to have your projects determined by a real or perceived timeline. I find that imposing a timeline on your project can help motivate you and push you to achieve more than you thought possible. Our six-week long living room renovation that we completed for the One Room Challenge is a great example.  It’s important to note though that while the physical actual execution of the project was six weeks, the planning and preparation took much longer!

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Examples of elements which could impact your decorating timeline include:
– seasonality: certain projects are better completed during warmer weather. Gardening and pool projects need to be done in the spring and summer. Exterior paint projects are best in the early cool days of fall. And it’s ideal to complete large renovations like kitchen makeovers when you can bbq outside and running back and forth to the garage/workshop isn’t a hardship.
– life events: Major life changes like welcoming a baby can precipitate major renovations. In the nine months before Chloe arrived, we finished up a kitchen renovation, tackled a bathroom renovation and nursery renovation as well! Welcoming guests over the holidays, rearranging rooms after the kids have gone off to collage… life events have a way of making ‘someday’ projects an immediate priority!

4. Effort and Skill

Some projects are easier than others. If you have the knowledge, skills (and tools!) to complete a design project, you’re more likely to go ahead and tackle it. However, if its a complicated project, one that is long, multi-phased, and requires expertise you don’t possess, you need to find people who have those skills to help you do the job.

Decorating projects that require simple tasks like painting a room or rearranging furniture can often be done quickly and at little cost. Generally, the more difficult a project is, the more it will cost and the longer it will take.

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Basement demolition is one project we left to the pros

It might seem like a simple decision, but deciding which room to decorate requires a lot of thought and consideration. I’ve made the mistake of rushing in and just wanting to get things done (this room was a prime example of that) and while I might have had a finished room at the end, it wasn’t one that I truly loved or one that really met our needs after all.

As with most things, preparation is half the work. Take the time to consider your needs, budget, timeline, and skills and it’ll be obvious which room you should decorate next.

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I’d love to know if you found this first instalment in the How To Decorate series helpful. Let me know what your most burning decorating and renovation questions are and I’ll address them in a future post. What stumbling blocks do you encounter, what keeps you from transforming your home into a place you love? Let me know in the comments below!

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