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Decorating a Room from Start to Finish: What to do When

Decorating a room is exciting. It can be a time to explore new aspects of yourself and find out what you really like. Whether you’re doing a remodel and redesign of a room that’s been needing it, or you’re in a brand new space and decorating for the first time, we’ll share everything you need to know to be able to decorate from start to finish.

When decorating a room, start with the messiest and largest tasks first. Drilling, drywalling, painting, and other remodels should be done first to help control the mess and build a solid foundation to decorate on. Afterward, other aspects such as color, style, theme, and design can be determined.

Below, we’ll explore why it’s a good idea to start with the largest tasks and how to determine your priorities and budget when decorating a room.

Choosing the Best Order of Tasks When Decorating a Room

While there are many ways to decorate a room, and it’s possible to switch up the order, we recommend doing the hardest and messiest jobs first because it simplifies things in a few key ways.

First, cleanup will be significantly easier. Let’s look at this using an example. If you’re going to paint the walls, replace the carpet, and rearrange the furniture, you’ll want to paint first. This way, you don’t have to worry as much about spilling paint on brand new carpet, and you only have to move all the furniture out once.

Otherwise, you either have to have extreme caution with the paint so you don’t damage the new carpet, or you have to move the furniture twice if you rearrange before painting.

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Second, it gives you more of a base to build on. No matter what color scheme you go with, the carpet and wall color will be major components. Doing them first will help guide your decisions for furniture and other decorations.

Also, it’s easier to move large things when other things aren’t in the room. Find a place for the big, heavy desk before bringing in three office chairs so that you don’t have to fight the office chairs while you’re moving the desk.

Finally, it’s just a smart way to use your energy. Getting the biggest things done first (when you have the most energy) can help you be efficient. It’s easier to do small things on low energy levels than big things, and while small things may not drain your energy levels quite as much as large things, you get diminishing returns on willpower as you go.

Most remodeling and decorating likely won’t take place in the span of a single day or even a single week. And most of the time it doesn’t need to; feel free to spread your project out over multiple days or weeks to help save energy.

As you do this, you may find it more efficient to switch back and forth between large and small tasks, and that’s okay. Just remember, don’t spend too much time on a small task without hitting a big task along the way!

Decide on Your Priorities

Your real first step when decorating a room is to decide on your priorities. Priorities can be wide and varied. Is it more important to you to remodel a kitchen and get new appliances that work great, or are you looking simply to spice the kitchen up a bit without spending a lot of money?

Does comfort matter more than aesthetics? How functional does the room need to be? Will the room serve multiple functions? All of these questions and more are important to ask yourself before you start decorating.

When determining these priorities, we don’t offer any recommendations as far as what these priorities should be for you—that’s completely dependent on your room, desired project, and budget. However, we will make some suggestions and considerations that we hope are helpful.

Determine Your Color Scheme or Style First

This will help ensure that the room ends up looking wonderful no matter what you do. Plus, it gets something easy out of the way so that you don’t have to worry about it. You have to have some sort of style, or at least a color scheme for a room, so you can’t avoid this step.

Determine Your Level of Functionality

By “level of functionality,” we’re referring to what the room should do or what you should be able to do in the room. Some of this will be obvious – in the bathroom, you should be able to brush your teeth, shower, and do your business.

But some will be less obvious, like how much functionality you need from your kitchen. Sure, everyone wants a microwave, but do you need space to cut, fry, season, store, and grill, all at the same time? If so, then your design process will look a lot different than if you don’t.

How do you decide on the levels of functionality that you want? Usually, more functionality is better, right? This is where some other constraints come into play, like budget and space.

If your kitchen doesn’t have space for everything you want to do, you’ll have to consider what your greatest needs are. You will also want to look for ways to use your space more efficiently, like by installing a pot rack, or by getting a cutting board that fits over your sink. Make sure to look into different tips and tricks to save on space and money so you can do more.

Determine Your Level of Comfort

This one is a very personal choice. Remember that “more comfortable” does not necessarily mean better. For example, an office that is too comfortable may appear overly casual or lead to too many naps. That’s not to say that an office shouldn’t be comfortable and that you shouldn’t have quality furniture.

It just means that comfort is something to consider with a critical eye. In this sense, it may be helpful to consider comfort and functionality as related, although it is possible to have a space that is both very comfortable and functional at the same time.

Determine a Budget

This is (unfortunately) likely the most difficult and disappointing part of decorating or remodeling. Your budget will guide your decisions.

Our biggest tip with the budget is to plan out all of the costs beforehand. You don’t want to get halfway done then realize you don’t have enough money to cover new furniture because the paint job took twice as much as you planned.

Alternatively, you also don’t want to get done and realize you have extra dollars that could have been used on higher-quality furniture.

Start your budget by figuring out exactly how much money you have. This will help ensure that you won’t spend money that you don’t have. Next, get estimates of how much each aspect of the remodeling will take. You can play around with the numbers here until you find a good balance among everything that you want.

You may find yourself having to make some sacrifices as part of your project. That’s okay. The best projects are those that balance-wise financial choices with good aesthetic choices. This is part of why deciding your priorities early on can make it easier down the road, because you won’t have to spend as much time deciding what you may need to cut out of the budget.

It’s also important to look up money-saving tips online. We can’t go into all of them here, but a quick Google search can help you find tricks and tips that may save you enough to help you complete the full project.

When considering budget, many people wonder if they should start now and finish when they make the rest of the money, or if they should just hold off entirely so that they can pay for it all at once. Our short answer: it depends.

There are good arguments on both sides for starting now and waiting. Personally, I’d say start with what you have and work as you go. That way you can enjoy small steps and make continual progress along the way. You also get to enjoy what you’re planning on buying without having to wait as long to reap the rewards.

Whatever the case, you should see your budget as a growing ability to do what you want, rather than simply a barrier holding you back!

Doing Something Non-Traditional

A Google or Pinterest search for “room decor ideas” will yield hundreds of results with varying designs. However, you’ll notice that most of them fit into a similar mold. But what if you want to try something non-traditional or novel?

Even searching for “non-traditional room ideas” gives you images that fit pretty tightly into the mold, unless you already know the terminology of something specific that you’re looking for. But what if you don’t? What if you want to explore other non-traditional options?

One option is to search for different cultures or time periods. A search for “Japanese room decor” will show you rooms with fewer chairs and furniture that is close to the ground. On the other hand, “Brazilian room decor” may inspire you to put a hammock in the corner for lounging!

While these are technically “traditional” in their culture, by incorporating other cultures’ traditional decor into your own room, you can create something multicultural and unique!

Another good option may be searching for fantastical room decor ideas. You can be inspired by movies such as Harry Potter, the Hobbit, and more! Keep in mind that you’ll still be living in this space, so you don’t want to sacrifice functionality or comfort; these ideas are more for design inspiration than anything else.


How Do I Find a Good Color Scheme/Style When Decorating a Room?

The ways of accomplishing this are endless.

First, I’d recommend just searching for room decor ideas and finding rooms that you like, then seeing what colors they have in common. Most decor idea pages do a good job of coloring, so you should be fine as long as you don’t mix colors.

Second, feel free to try your own! Your intuition is better at identifying good and bad patterns of color than you think. The only risk here is trying to do something a little too far out of the way. If your gut tells you you might be doing too much, or pushing it a little hard, you probably are.

Finally, if you’re not up for ideas or you just want to check and see if a few colors go together, you can learn more about the color wheel and color theory. While this may seem complicated (and parts of it truly are), Adobe makes it easy to find colors that go together with their very own color-wheel functionality, where you can explore new color schemes or confirm that your original one wasn’t that bad.

How Do I Create My Own Style When Decorating a Room?

Creating your own style is bold, elegant, and scary. What if it goes wrong? What if it’s so bad that even you don’t end up liking it?

That’s part of the risk of creating your own style. If you do want to create your own style and not copy somebody else’s, it’s a good idea to learn some basic principles of design. This includes not only color theory, but interior design as well.

One good way to explore your style with low risk is by rearranging things that you already have. See what kind of color combos and decor that you can come up with by using only what you have on hand.

If you can do that and feel good about it, then you could probably design your own room and be fine. If not, there’s a reason that so many home decor pages exist! Don’t feel ashamed to use or even copy any of those ideas.

What If I Want to Try Something New, but I’m Not Sure I’ll Like It?

There is no easy answer to this question. Often, it can be difficult to know if you’ll like something until you’ve had time with it. At first, the best way may be to simply experiment. This is unfortunate, as experimenting may cost you a lot of money for something that you don’t like.

If possible, try to find something similar to what you’re hoping to do that you can look at in person. This will give you a much better feel than an online image would, although it is much more difficult to find.