For the writer, it’s the tyranny of the blank page. For the artist, it’s the white canvas. And for the home decorator … it’s the empty room. Where do I start? How do I make all those creative ideas a reality? And, what if I make a mistake?
Don’t worry, you are not alone. Getting started is always the hardest part of any creative endeavor – whether it’s a poem, a painting, or an interior décor.
While everyone has their own way of working, here are some suggestions that may well help you make your interior cottage style decorating projects easier – and more fun. It’s based on our years of experience helping our customers design rooms that work.
First and foremost – start by providing a structure. Before you even think about colors and fabrics and all those nice touches, you need to lay the foundation.
- Begin with careful room measurements. It might sound obvious, but start with the overall dimensions of the room. Be sure to include window and door locations, windowsill heights, stairs, fireplace, unusual wall locations or anything else that will affect furniture placement and flow. Good measurements are the first and most important step to plan your room and avoid costly mistakes.
- Take pictures. Keep a record of every room for future reference. Bring them along with you when you start to shop. Be sure to include any pieces of furniture you may want to keep. Before and after photos can serve as a valuable reference for future decorating projects.
- Design a rough layout. You can do this on the computer, as we do. There are many computer programs available that enable you to create a layout, ‘drag and drop’ actual photos of furniture and move things around with the click of a mouse. You can access our software program here. Or, if you prefer, you can use graph paper to hand-draw your layout. Use the grid lines to make a layout to scale. The rule of thumb is one box on the grid equals one foot of space. Sketch in where you want to place furniture for each room including the dimensions.
- Take an inventory. Not everyone starts with an empty room or house. There may well be pieces of furniture you want to keep and some you wish to discard. Take a good hard look and decide which ones are the ‘keepers’. Can a sofa be reupholstered or recovered with slipcovers? Can a table or chest be refinished or painted? Is this really something that you want to keep? Is it worth keeping? Oftentimes, unless you plan on reworking a piece yourself, the cost of refurbishing an existing piece can be almost as much as purchasing a new item. Once you have decided what to keep and what to replace, draw up a furniture inventory of items you will need for each room. Include dimensions – even though these may be just ‘guess-timates’ in this phase.
- Think about your personal style. Are you the country cottage type, traditional or sleek modern? Don’t forget you can mix and match styles in today’s eclectic design. Look at the architecture of your home – and its surroundings to create a natural fit with your environment. And don’t forget to consider your lifestyle. Is it casual and easy-care or is it more formal? Are there kids and pets to consider? Start to envision your ‘dream house’ – a house that works for everyone involved.
- Scheme about color. Now is the time to start thinking about your color scheme. Get creative. Scour websites and magazines for ideas. What colors do you love – and which ones do you avoid? Pick a color combination that works best for your environment – and fits with items you may already own. Create harmony. Think about the flow of color from one room to the next. Start with an important item that will be the focal point of your room – a sofa, a rug or a piece of art.
- Consider your budget & timeline. This is the hard part. Take a good look at your finances and try to come up with a rough figure for what you plan to spend. Look at prices – particularly for ‘big ticket’ items — and decide where you may want to splurge and where you can economize. In addition, not every piece has to be purchased at the same time. Once you have a plan, you can always “fill in” a room when your finances permit. Consider investing in, and waiting for, high quality furniture a decision that will serve you well into the future.
- Browse online or in stores. Okay, now you are ready to start looking around. The possibilities are endless. Look at catalogues, magazines and websites. Browse through local stores. Ask for opinions – get design assistance. Bring along all the elements you have put together as part of your foundation – dimensions, photos, layouts, product inventory and color schemes. If you have any fabric swatches, bring those along too.
You are now ready to shop! In the months ahead, we will take you on a room-by-room tour to help you design your own distinctive home.
Brought to you by Cottage Home – specializing in cottage furniture & farmhouse tables