The 3 Step Plan to Help You Design Your Next Room Like a Professional
After living in over 15 homes over the last 15 years, and leaving no space unstyled, I have slowly worked my way into a very organized system for planning and executing my room design plans, through years of trial and error. Here’s the tried and true process I follow as I plan each of my rooms. I will be using our master bedroom project (currently in progress!) as an example of a real life project.1. Budget: Decide on a budget, and think about what the major costs might be. Repainting the room? With high quality paint and a good tools, that will likely run you about $70, depending on the size of the room. Are you looking to buy new furniture, or work with what you have? Will you be needing rugs? Storage of any kind? Think about how much you are comfortable spending, and roughly break that out into your priorities with estimates of how much you can spend. Here’s mine for our master bedroom project: Paint: $70 Bedding: $80 Lighting: $50 Decor: $50 Total: $2502. Inspiration: Decide on a few keywords that describe what you are looking for in your final product. It could be as simple as “colorful dining room” or as specific as “dusty pink and grey bedroom carpeted with chandelier.” Search for these words on Pinterest, and pin whatever is appealing to you. The reason we do this AFTER we set a budget, is because some of the priorities from your budget will be reflected in your keywords; in our case, I knew we didn’t want to invest in a bed frame, and we were ditching our dresser in favor of a nicely organized big closet, so my keywords were “relaxing bedroom minimalist bed on floor.” After you pin 5-15 images that appeal to you from your keyword search, look back through for trends in what you’ve saved- do they all have white bedding? Is oversized art a constant theme? Do you secretly love brass faucets? Going back through the images to look for patterns is a great way to figure out what you didn’t know you were looking for. You likely weren’t thinking about those elements when you chose each image, but when you look for themes it helps you figure out what exactly you liked about them in the first place. When I was gathering inspiration for our new master bedroom, I pinned these two images, which told me a lot about the overall look I was going for:
This lovely room from Instagram user @ styledbyemmahos
And this thematically very similar room from Leva & Bo.
So now I know I am look to create a minimalist space with layered, solid, neutral bedding, and a blue green neutral wall color, geometric lighting, and at least one plant. 3. Goals: Now that you have your inspiration, it’s time to identify your goals for the space. In our case, we wanted a relaxing, uncluttered space, that really leaned into the mid-century styling of our 1965 ranch. Two more major priorities for us were that the space be very easy to keep clean and dust free because my husband has asthma, and that we have big fluffy comforters because this is the chilliest bedroom in the house. We also wanted to bring a little bit of a romantic feel to the room, as a respite and retreat from our exhausted life as parents of a toddler. From here, the steps will vary depending on what you have decided on, but here are some common ones:
Paint selection: If you’re painting, I highly suggest you get samples of a few shades that are close to what you think you’d like, and paint large swatches on the walls of the room, and give yourself at least 24 hours to look at them in all different lights. It’s amazing how different colors can look on a wall than they do on a swatch card! The blue-grey color that we chose sometimes looks like three different colors all at once, depending on where you look in the room. I have two more important tips when it comes to paint: I would really, really, really recommend this fancy paint roller. That’s an affiliate link, and honestly I would gladly do infomercials for the Paint Stick EZ Twist, because it just makes painting so much easier, more efficient, and less messy. The handle holds enough paint to cover a 8×8′ square of wall, which means no messy paint tray, no constantly needing to coat the roller again, and a super even coat the first time. Here’s a video that shows how it works. I can’t really tell you how much I love this thing. My final painting tip is to always buy high quality paint. It costs a lot more per gallon, often $45 vs $25, but you will likely need half as much of the $45 a gallon paint, and you will save yourself a lot of work if you can skip the second coat. Two brands I have used and really like are Colorhouse, available at Home Depot, and The highest end Valspar, the Lowe’s brand of paint, Valspar Reserve. Both are Zero VOC, and cover even dark colors in a single coat. Buying lesser paint just ends in frustration and a lot more work.
Don’t love your furniture? Sell it: Do not underestimate the power of Craigslist and the Facebook Marketplace feature. Sell what you have, and stalk listings to find something you do love. For this project we have some mid-century modern side tables I thought would make great nightstands, but they are too high for the bed on the floor, so they are going to be listed for sale, and we will keep and eye out for something that does work, as well as consider our DIY options. Don’t feel like you need to spend thousands of dollars to get a room you love. Unless you are totally remodeling a kitchen or bathroom, you can likely end up with a space you love for anywhere from $50-350.
DIY is your friend, even if you think you aren’t crafty: Ever watch one of those HGTV shows where they remodel a space, and there’s always a DIY project the homeowner is skeptical about but ends up totally bringing the space together? It works in real life too. Grab some supplies with a 40% off craft store coupon (all craft stores have amazing coupons, never buy stuff at full price) and paint yourself some large scale art, build a headboard for under $40, or repaint a dated light fixture to turn it totally glam. You don’t have to be that creative, tons of people on the internet already have been, and they’ve written you detailed instructions. For our room, we are taking a faux mantle my dad built for a previous house, and we are going to be creating a tile back for it so it will reflect the light of our candles, giving us the romantic touch we were looking for.
If you love being organized, create a moodboard: I made this in Canvain about four minutes from images I had pinned, using one of their photo collage templates. A moodboard gives you a cohesive vision of what you’re working towards, that you can check each decision against. Does this lamp look like it fits the mood? No? Then it’s not the right lamp. Once you create your mood board, try to really stick to it, unless you get inspired to go in a totally different direction, in which case it’s time for a new moodboard. Alright, I’ve restrained myself until this point; did anyone notice my planning system forms an ACRONYM?!?! Budget, Inspiration, Goals; I hope this guide helps you make a B.I.G. plan for your next room project. Okay, that’s enough being proud of myself, but seriously, try it out, and let me know how your next project comes out, I’d love to see photos over on Hey Jillian’s facebook!
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