How to Get Started Redecorating

Decorating, Home & Family, Living Green
on April 20, 2003

The most frequent question in decorating a home is, “Where do I begin?”

If your living room needs a new look, or you want to turn that guest bedroom into an office, the best place to start is before you choose paint colors. A little preliminary work can make the project—whether it’s one room or several rooms—go much smoother.

Get ready to redo. Create a folder to contain information such as room measurements, color and fabric samples, photographs, and your own ideas. Sketch the room’s doorways, windows, electrical outlets, telephone and cable jacks, vents, and other “vital statistics.”

Measure each room. Record window widths, spaces from floor to sill, mantel to ceiling, wall areas, air vents, and so forth. Keep these in the folder to refer to them easily while shopping.

Brainstorm. Browse through interior design magazines, ask family and friends, and think about features you’ve liked in others’ houses. Combine the best of all these ideas and think about how you’ll work them into your room. Without compromising the overall plan, work around what you already have, especially if you like a particular painting or chair. Also take into account solid colors such as flooring, tile, and countertops when you’re considering patterns and color.

Arrange. Try several furniture arrangements to find what works best for you. Place large furniture pieces before worrying about small ones. Arrange tables or flat surface areas near each major seat and avoid putting all the furniture against walls. Make sure lamp heights are higher than your eyes (when seated) to prevent shadows.

Choose patterns and colors. Unless you’re set on a particular color or pattern, shop around for a wallpaper fabric, piece of art, or area rug you can’t live without to help determine other patterns and colors in the room. Consider patterns with both warm and cool colors to re-enforce warm tones for winter and cool ones for summer. Select patterns that match activities. For example, a living room may have a lighter carpet than the dining area, where things get spilled. Carpets with several colors camouflage stains and wear and tear.

Do a room analysis. Decide where the center of interest will be and view it from the main entrance. Use contrasting colors and textiles for items to show up or, for a more spacious appearance, blend colors.