Wishing you could give your home a new look for the new year, but you’re short on cash after all that holiday shopping? We’re going to help you avoid overspending while still getting that designer look you’re after in today’s post!
The Biggest Decorating Tip of All:
If you’re wanting to freshen up the look of your home, before doing any decorating or spending any money, spend some time un-cluttering! Clutter kills the look of any great design and removing it can help any room look and feel better!
Joshua Becker from BecomingMinimalist has a Simple Guide to a Clutter Free Home which will help you get started.
Time to Dream! Finding Your Style:
When I was doing interior design I’d ask my clients to create a dream file of things the loved, so I could get a feel for what they liked and know what to suggest to them. Since that was way back in the “dark ages,” this consisted of a manilla folder with clippings from magazines and catalogs. Now we’ve got so many easy online tools and apps to help us get inspired!
- Art.com has a cool find your style tool! Check it out to see if you’re Bold, Whitty, or Wanderlust in style!
- Pinterest is another favorite! Create a board for each room of your home, another board of colors you’re especially drawn to, and a dream home board of things you hope to have someday. (Email us if you need an invite to Pinterest: blog at fatwallet.com)
- Like Pinterest, Houzz, is an entire site geared towards interior design that lets you compile photos you like into one space.
- Also check online catalogs, magazines and decorating blogs for design ideas!
- Look in your closet for style ideas. Do you dress for fashion or comfort? What colors do you prefer? Are there certain types of fabrics or textures you tend to buy frequently? Are you formal or laid back?
- You can also find inspiration from artwork, rugs, or accessories. Choose colors from a piece to plan your color scheme, paying attention to how the colors will feel in the room. HGTV did a good job covering the basics of color psychology, how colors affect your mood.
Home decor color trends mirror fashion trends. The Pantone Fashion Color Report for Spring of 2013 will serve up plenty of fresh greens, with emerald having been chosen as the color of the year. Expect to see these colors in fabrics and accessories:
Sometimes when you see a room design you absolutely love, you may not be able to pinpoint what you love about it. Compiling a bunch of photos and objects will help you find themes that identify your style. Look for similarities in color scheme, furniture design, arrangements, lighting, etc. among the photos you’ve collected.
Plan Your Design Out Ahead of Time
There’s nothing worse than spending money on furniture that is too big or too small for your room. You have to plan ahead for things like lighting, walk-ways, windows, heating and cooling vents, and leg-room.
- Figure out what the focal point of the room will be, such as a TV, fireplace, or window with a great view. Then imagine how you plan to use the room. A family room, for example may be focused on TV watching, entertaining, and enjoying a fire place.
- Take into account how much seating you will need. What will people be doing in the room? Will everyone need to see the TV? Will someone be working on a laptop perhaps? List out as much information as you possibly can, it will help you in choosing the right furniture pieces for the room.
- There are tools online you can use to plan out your space, as well as many smartphone apps. (Here’s a free room planner from BHG. It does require an opt in but works great!) Plain old graph paper and a ruler can work just as well too! (1 square = 1 foot.) Most furniture stores also offer online room planners that allow you to enter in the dimensions of your room and add in various furniture pieces, moving them around until you find a configuration that works.
Here are some basic guidelines for space planning:
- 3-5 feet of space for major walk ways
- 15-18 inches around coffee tables
- Lighting distributed evenly around the room. Typical cords on lamps are 6 feet, so take into account where the outlets are.
- TV viewing should be at a comfortable distance. Check out our TV buying guide for how big of a TV you need for comfortable viewing in your room.
- 2+ feet around fireplaces for safety.
- Pay attention to heating and cooling vents. You don’t want to cover one up with a piece of furniture!
- Same thing goes for windows! You’ve got to be able to open and close them without feeling like you’re playing a game of twister with your end tables!
- Avoid “ring around the room” by placing some of your furniture pieces away from the walls.
- Don’t stop there. Once you get a layout on paper you think will work well, get a real-life visual by arranging the furniture in your actual room with painter’s tape on the floor. Imagine yourself sitting in the furniture.
- Stumped on how to make your room’s layout work?
- Check out some other family room layouts online to see how various pieces can be combined into an seating arrangement.
- Bring your floor plan into a furniture store and ask their interior designer for help.
Many furniture stores will send a designer to your home for free to take measurements and offer layout suggestions. Often there is a deposit for this service which is taken off your bill when you purchase furniture.
- Here are a couple of other options to help you with small vs. large rooms: 10 Ways to Make A Small Room Look Larger and Large Room Design Tips for Decorating a Large Room
Set Your Budget
Furniture can be expensive and it’s easy to blow your budget in a hurry if you’re not careful! Changing something in your room can start a domino effect of other changes you want to make. We just bought a new sectional for our family room, which means we also need a new coffee table and end tables (the old ones won’t fit) and a new stand for our aquarium since that had to be moved as well. I’d also love to repaint and get new window treatments.
Knowing what our firm budget was before shopping helped us prioritize our purchases and time-line of what we’re changing. The end tables will wait for another month or two, and we ended up choosing a fabric color that will go nicely with our drapes, carpeting, and paint for the time being.
Shopping for Furniture
You’ll want to invest in the big pieces of your room first. Think of these as the bones of the room that will give you a strong structure to layer your accessories and design accents upon. Invest in as high quality of pieces as your budget allows for rooms that will get heavy use. You can scrimp a little on accent pieces that will only be used occasionally.
Shopping for a family room or living room? Don’t step foot in a furniture store before checking out our sofa buying guide. I don’t recommend buying extended warranties on anything with the exception of fabric protectant. It’s a very small purchase compared to the price of an upholstered piece and I’ve used it twice in my lifetime, receiving brand new pieces of furniture in exchange for fabric that didn’t hold up well!
Don’t forget to measure doorways and hallways before purchasing a large piece of furniture. You don’t want to have the extra expense and hassle of home repairs such as re-installing a door jam that had to be removed to get something in the room!
Accessories: The Fun Part!
This is my favorite part of interior design, but is often the biggest challenge. Trying to get that designer look with accessories without having the staging of the room feel forced is not as easy as you might think. Too many accessories in a room can make it feel cluttered, and too few feels un-lived-in and sparse.
Start with a couple of larger accent pieces and layer in other objects of various sizes. It helps to arrange items in odd numbers, such as groups of three for a more casual look or pairs, arranged symmetrically, for a more formal feel.
Pillows and rugs (even over carpeting) can add softness to a room as well as help deaden the sound and tie different furniture pieces together.
Layering in different textures will make the space feel more rich; don’t forget to add a little bling in the way of mirrors and metallics! “This year, don’t be afraid to mix your metals which adds depth and interest to your space. Light fixtures and hardware do not always have to be the same finish and can look fantastic when mixed,” says Beth Hunter from Home Stories A to Z.
Bringing in some lush emerald green with plants can add life to a room, and a touch of black and/or white can add pop to room that feels too blah.
Remember when hanging artwork to not hang it too high or too low. Instead hang it so that the top of a lamp overlaps the bottom corner of a frame, or so that the piece is eye level or slightly below. Cindy from Your Decorating Hotline has some Tips for Hanging Art at Home.
Position mirrors so that they’re reflecting more light into the room. Remember that they’ll be framing what they reflect, so make sure it’s something you want to see more of, instead of something you want to hide.
All in all, have fun with your decorating and let your style shine through. Remember to plan your room according to how you live, instead of planning your room according to how you wish you could live. If your like me and fall in love that white sectional and imagine how beautiful it will look in your home, don’t forget about the three kids you’ve still got living at home, who will be eating and doing home-work in the family room. White furniture may not play well with sippy cups, pens, and gold-fish crackers, unless it’s a slipcover you can bleach!