Simplifying the Design Process

Source: Creative Commons


Decorating a new apartment or home can be an overwhelming process. There are a ton of decisions to make. What’s the best furniture layout for the room? What shade of gray should you paint the walls? Where should you store everything? Should you keep your grandmother’s dining set or get rid of it?

Having a clear plan can prevent costly mistakes and save you time in the long run. Here are simple tips for tackling a decorating project that will eliminate unnecessary returns and prevent you from getting stuck with furniture that doesn’t work in your space.

The first step in the design process is to establish a budget. All design projects begin with a budget. In fact, I don’t start a project with a client until the budget has been finalized.

[ Related: How to Decorate an Outdated Apartment Like a Design Pro ]

Money can be a touchy subject for most people. I find clients typically have no idea how much things cost until it’s time to go shopping. The design process runs a lot smoother when both parties are on the same page regarding cost.

If you’re not sure about pricing, I suggest visiting the websites of some of your favorite retailers and doing some preliminary shopping.

While you’re e-browsing, pinpoint items that you intend to purchase and note how much they cost. Pricing a few items in advance should give you a general idea of how much you will need to budget for your project. Be sure to factor in costs for supplies, materials and subcontractors’ fees as needed.

Once you have established a budget, the next step is to decide where to start. Things tend to get complicated during this stage because renters and homeowners either focus on too many things at once or opt to make small purchases first.

After you have mapped out the room with a floor plan and taken inventory of the furniture that you plan to keep in the space, you can begin shopping for items that you need.

One thing that will drive you crazy is settling on a wall color. Then purchase furniture to coordinate with the walls. As a rule of thumb, prioritize furniture shopping in the following order:

  1. Furniture
  2. Floor, Windows and Lighting
  3. Walls
  4. Accessories

Purchase large furniture items first. For example, if you’re decorating a living room, buy the sofa first then get a rug to go with it.

[ Related: The Anatomy of a Well-Dressed Bed ]

After settling on your main purchases, select a paint color for the walls. It’s much easier to match your paint color to your sofa rather than the other way around.

The last step in the process is styling the decorative accessories. Most people skip this part to save money but later realize that their place doesn’t feel polished. Look at it this way — if window treatments are the earrings in a room, then the accessories are the makeup. Don’t leave the room bare! Invest in decorative accessories to complete the look.

People hire interior designers to avoid making costly mistakes or to fix costly mistakes. When in doubt, hire an expert. Contact Gray Livin’ to book a design consultation. Happy decorating!

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Danielle A. Gray

Danielle A. Gray

Washington, DC based interior designer, blogger and creative force behind Gray Livin', a home interiors brand inspiring cool people to live soulfully with style. To schedule a design consultation, please visit:

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