Why didn't I get a map? Oh yeah. I was smart enough to get there. What kind of idiot doesn't know the way to _____? Or, more likely, I was in a hurry and too busy to prepare with a map. I was anxious to get there and skipped my preparation. You can bet that the next time I set out to a new area I got myself some directions, both from the cell phone and a printed version, in case I had no cell coverage. Smarter the second time around.
Decorating without a plan is a lot like setting out without directions. You stop into a furniture store or on a website, maybe just to browse or get ideas. Then you start purchasing blindly. Like going without directions, you’ll end up lost, and with a hodge-podge of stuff that kind-of, sort-of works together. And probably a side helping of disappointment.
I’ll teach you to be your own client. Listen to yourself and your family and be honest about what works. What’s all this about honesty? Here is an example: I love velvet. It’s rich and luxurious. I have a penchant for glam design in my own home and velvet fits right in. I also have an adorable 60 lb dog, who is allowed all over the furniture. Velvet is an absolute magnet for fur. So, will I change the rules for the dog? No. Do I want to battle the fur on velvet? No. Is a velvet sofa a good choice for me? No. I’ll have to consider another option. Perhaps a velvet ottoman or pillows will be a more practical solution.
Let’s get started with your own design plan. Below is a mini version of the design questionnaire I use with my clients before I start designing or decorating their homes.
Not planning and assessing your life and needs results in spending money on things that don’t work for you, or that you’ll have to replace sooner than you anticipated.
- How long do you plan to stay in this home? This helps you determine how much time and money you really want to put into a redesign. Will you be focused on your long-term comfort or resale value?
- Who lives in your home and what are their ages? Do you have children that will be off to school soon or an elderly parent living with you and need to incorporate Ageing-in-Place principals?
- Do you have pets? Think about the finishes you want to install in your home and whether they are adequate for those furry friends in your life.
- Do you entertain quite a bit? Is your home functional for your entertaining needs?
- Write a list of your family’s regular activities. Does Bobby like to do puzzles in the living room, or does Missy like to paint in the kitchen? Defining where you need to make rooms dual purpose or where to relocate these activities help you determine how to best use your space.
- Is there enough storage space in your home?
- What colors do you like? What colors do you dislike? What colors do your family members love and hate?
- Does everyone in the house have the same design taste? If they are different, have you figured out how you are going to reconcile the differences?
- What style do you want for furniture and accessories? Modern, traditional, formal, casual… the list goes on.
- What is the style of your current home? If your house is very Traditional, but you like Modern styles, how will you bridge the gap?
- Do you have a favorite piece of furniture or artwork you absolutely love? This could be the perfect starting point for your design.
- How much are you going to invest in this project? Add an extra 20% to that number to cover the incidentals that always pop up. Is this based on real prices or total guesswork? If you haven’t done the homework to see what items really cost, you may be unable to complete this project once you start or you may have to downgrade your selections.
- Is anyone in your home a handy person? If so, you may be able to save yourself money if you can do things like painting yourself.