Do you ever feel overwhelmed with where to start when designing a room? If you want to give a room a refresh, here are the first four steps I usually take to get started, to organize my thoughts, needs and style preferences so I can move forward with a plan!
1. Assess the Space
First I look at the space I have. What do I like about it? What do I not like? Do I like the colors, the arrangement, the furniture? Most importantly, how does it feel to be in here? Consider the current mood and what you’d like to change about it. Are there any cluttered spots that need to be addressed? Are there certain corners or particular angles that don’t inspire you? Do any initial ideas come to mind? I don’t have to solve it all…I just use this time to observe what’s working and what isn’t. You can write down your observations in a notebook if you’d like!
2. Gather Inspiration
Next I begin to gather inspiration! I start by looking for anything and everything that inspires me. I don’t worry too much yet about the practicality of the idea or the why behind my inspiration…I’ll get to that next! If an image, idea or art or piece of furniture speaks to me in any way, I save it. If I use books I flag them with little sticky notes (I shared my favorite home design books HERE). If it’s online inspiration, I will pin them to a Pinterest board, or if it’s on Instagram I use the little flag button on the bottom right to save them to a specific folder.
3. Observe and Find Takeaway Tips
Now that I have some inspiration saved, I try to analyze my photos and take note of what elements I like (I’ve done several posts about this called Takeaway Tips, see all here!). Sometimes I find I will save an inspiration photo but don’t know why it was that I gravitated toward it. Look closely and observe what specifically you like. Maybe you saved a photo of a kitchen that looks nothing like the style of your home. Upon observation, you note that it is a bright white kitchen with colorful cookbooks on built-in shelves. The takeaway from that might be that you feel inspired by bright white spaces with pops of color on open shelves.
4. Look for the Patterns
Next I look for patterns in the inspiration photos I chose. It could be literal patterns (like stripes or plaid!) but I’m mostly looking for color schemes, furniture elements or room styles that I seemed to choose repetitively. Did I save lots of photos with moody dark walls? Do I seem to love the look of a room full of antiques? Do I like the streamlined look of built-ins? I also refer back to the takeaway tips, because that can help refine the specific elements I want to incorporate. I might have saved several photos of white rooms, but once I look for patterns I realize what I really was inspired by was the architecture of white paneling, or maybe I really like the way vintage wood furniture looks against the white walls, for example.
Also I find it helpful to ask myself honestly if any of the patterns are mostly driven by current trends, rather than what I actually like for my own home. I might save a lot of moody earthy toned rooms, but it’s helpful to remind myself that while I might love them in photos that doesn’t mean they will be the right choice for my home. It’s OK to discover that you love a certain look in photos and yet not choose it for your home.
After completing those four steps….I start to feel much more equipped to begin making the specific plans and design decisions for my own space!
In my next post I’ll share some of the inspiration photos I’ve started to gather as I brainstorm ideas for my new kitchen remodel!
I’ll also give you an update on my bedroom and plans for that for “A Lovely January”. If you missed the details about that challenge, you can catch up and join us here.
More inspiration on The Inspired Room:
Find decor advice in my books The Inspired Room, Simple Decorating, and But Where Do I Put the Couch + Answers to 100 Other Home Decorating Questions.
Check out my “How to Decorate” page to find decor inspiration room by room.
You can also follow my new Instagram @theinspiredroomstyle for style advice and our thoughtfully curated selection of timeless furniture and charming accessories!