Guide to Starting a Home Design Project

Jun 23, 2024

Commencing a home design project with space planning is paramount. Similar to devising a business strategy, establishing an effective furniture layout sets a solid groundwork for your space. This layout not only provides direction but also ensures coherence as you start selecting furnishings for your home. 

brown pencil on white printing paper

Step 1: Make a Floor Plan

Crafting a scaled floor plan can be done simply using tools like a ruler and 1/4″ graph paper. By manipulating paper cutouts representing furniture options on the floor plan, you can experiment with different arrangements until you find the optimal layout.

Accuracy in scale is crucial for assessing furniture size compatibility accurately. Alternatively, there are various room layout apps available for creating digital floor plans, albeit often for a small fee.

 Step 2: Find Inspiration  

Narrow down your inspiration pool to just one or two key photos. Overloading with too many images can overwhelm and cloud your vision. Select those photos that truly resonate with you, noting precisely what elements captivate you for later replication. These chosen visuals should encapsulate the overarching aesthetic you aim to achieve in your room. Keep them prominently displayed where you can easily reference them during your project’s duration.

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As you progress through your project and make decisions, periodically revisit your inspiration photos. Ensure that your choices align with your initial vision. However, remain open to the possibility of your design evolving and adapting as you proceed. Flexibility in your creative journey allows for organic growth and refinement of your space.

Step 3: Decide The Color Scheme

four orange, green, blue, and red paint rollers

Begin by establishing a color scheme, but refrain from assigning specific materials or colors to individual items just yet. Allow your color palette to evolve gradually as you make decisions on particular pieces. For instance, if you’re drawn to a stunning Persian area rug, use it as a starting point to shop and construct your color scheme around it. Identifying key focal pieces early on, such as this rug, can serve as foundational elements for your design. As you navigate through your project, periodically consult your inspiration photos to ensure that your choices remain in harmony with your initial vision.

Common Color Schemes:

Monochromatic: A refined palette comprised of variations in lightness and darkness of a single dominant hue.

Complementary: A vibrant palette featuring two colors positioned opposite each other on the color wheel, creating dynamic contrast.  

Analogous: A harmonious palette composed of two to six colors adjacent to each other on the color wheel, offering a cohesive and fluid aesthetic.

Triad: A balanced palette derived from three colors forming an equilateral triangle on the color wheel, ensuring visual equilibrium and interest.

Step 4: Initiate

To initiate your design journey, select two foundational pieces of furniture around which you’ll build your room’s aesthetic. Consider the specific room you’re focusing on and identify the two essential elements that either contribute to your comfort or occupy significant visual space within the room.

For instance, in a bedroom, these key pieces might be the bed and the area rug, while in a living room, they could be the sofa and the area rug. 

Alternatively, if you already possess a standout furniture piece, it’s perfectly acceptable to begin with that item. The crucial aspect is to take that first step. Once you have these initial pieces in place, the rest of the room’s design will naturally unfold and evolve around them.

**Tip**: Start with the largest pieces of furniture and the ones you can purchase in person.

 Step 5: Map Your Space

Take the time to physically map out your furniture layout by taping it out on the floor. Using masking tape or painter’s tape, create outlines that match the exact dimensions of the pieces you’re considering purchasing. While a scaled floor plan is a great starting point, physically taping out the furniture provides a tangible perspective that paper drawings can’t capture. By maneuvering around the taped outlines, you’ll gain a genuine understanding of how much space each piece will occupy in your room. Remember, measure twice to ensure accuracy before making any final decisions.

**Tip**: Extend this visualization technique to the walls by taping out the dimensions of furniture or arrangements of artwork. Utilize only painter’s tape or masking tape to prevent any damage to the surfaces. This method allows you to gauge the height of furniture pieces or the placement of artwork accurately, providing a comprehensive understanding of how they will interact within your space.

DOs and DON’Ts of Interior Design

brown wooden table and chairs

**Do**: Incorporate an accent color like blue or green into your rooms at least three times to maintain a deliberate accent color scheme. If you prefer neutrals such as creams, whites, browns, and blacks, vary the shades to add depth and prevent the room from appearing flat.

**Don’t**: Limit your room to just one or two colors. Layering different shades of color enhances cohesion, visual interest, and style.

**Do**: Test paint colors in your room to ensure compatibility with your flooring and furniture before finalizing your choice. Utilize large peel & stick paint samples for accurate visualization, as I do with my interior design clients.  

**Don’t**: Rely solely on paint store samples or small paint chips, as they may clash with the existing elements in your room.

**Do**: Arrange your furniture around a focal point in the room to create a cohesive layout and inviting atmosphere.

**Don’t**: Push all your furniture against the walls or cluster it at one end of the room, as this can lead to a disjointed and uninviting space.

 Step-by-Step Checklist


Close-up Photo of Checklist on White Paper 1: Establish Your Vision

Identify the core style elements that resonate with your personal taste.

Select a color palette that mirrors your personality and preferences.

Compile a vision board comprising images and concepts that reflect your ideal living space.

Define precise elements you wish to integrate, balancing aesthetics with practicality.

 2: Conquer Overwhelm

Identify brief intervals within your daily schedule for home-related tasks.

Address one small project at a time to prevent feeling overwhelmed.

Reserve dedicated time slots in your calendar for home-related endeavors.

Prioritize these blocks with the same diligence as work or personal commitments.

3: Economical Home Revamp

Browse thrift shops, vintage boutiques, and online platforms for distinctive and budget-friendly items.

Explore upcycling or repurposing techniques to infuse your space with personalized charm.

Discover straightforward DIY projects that complement your design vision.

Allocate time for hands-on creativity to impart a unique flair to your surroundings.

Stay vigilant for sales, discount promotions, and clearance deals to stretch your budget.

Strategically plan your purchases to capitalize on cost-effective opportunities.

 4: Achieving Balance and Harmony

Experiment with blending two or more décor styles that reflect your preferences.

Maintain a cohesive appearance by carefully balancing contrasting elements.

Infuse the space with your individuality by incorporating meaningful items and cherished memories.

Consider integrating elements that narrate your distinct journey and personality.

 5: Celebrate Success

Take time to acknowledge and celebrate every completed project, regardless of its size.

Share your progress with friends or on social platforms to inspire and uplift others.

Tune into the ambiance your revamped space creates.

Make necessary adjustments to foster a joyful and cozy sanctuary within your home.

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