A Room Design
That's So Divine

Developing a room design can sometimes be an overwhelming process. Where should I start? What style do I like? What's my budget? How long will it take? Unfortunately there are no clear answers as our situations are all different. Budget is a huge part of the design equation. Some may have plenty of money to play with while others may be slowly saving for those long anticipated granite countertops.

Do you rent or do you own? This could also affect how far you are able to go with your design plan. No matter your personal situation, these room design tips affect us all and may offer some guidance in establishing that high-end look you desire without the high-end cost.

In Which Room Do You Need Help?

The "blank canvas"

Empty Rooms
An empty, move-in ready home allows easy opportunity to determine furniture placement and develop a design plan.

Where should I start?

Whether you have just bought a new home or you are renovating an existing one, it's always good to take inventory of your furnishings. Why? Well you want to develop a room that best showcases your belongings. If you have nice furniture that you will be reusing, you want it to "work well" with your new design. In fact, your furniture may dictate your design direction, giving you an easy starting point.

If you are purchasing new furniture, your design direction is wide open. This is good news if you want a totally new look but sometimes it can be overwhelming since you are starting from scratch. Look at photographs from design magazines for inspiration. Take a day to drive around to furniture showrooms and look at what's on display. Take photographs so you can recall all the pieces you have seen. Pick a set you like. It could even be a couch or a chair. Perhaps even a coffeetable you've fallen in love with. Make a decision and go with it. One piece can help guide the direction for all future pieces you choose for the room.

What's your style?

The easiest way to build a cohesive look in a room is to choose a specific design style and stick with it. Choose pieces and accessories that appropriately correspond and push the point of your chosen style. Again, look for inspiration in magazines or online. You may not be able to completely replicate a room design you see, but you can get very close by choosing similar pieces and decorative accessories.

Can't find what you need? Create it. Develop a customized look that fits your aesthetic. These headboard ideas for example, give you unconventional alternatives to consider when designing a bedroom.

What colors should I choose?

I see this asked frequently by people redoing a room. They know they want to repaint or redecorate with new colors but do not know what colors they want, or are afraid of their choices. First, try to determine a few colors you like. Do they make sense as a room color in your home? Do they coordinate with the other existing rooms? Is there flow from one room to the next or will the new color stick out too much?

I always tell people to pick an inspiration piece; an item with color and visual interest they want to use in the room. Can you pull a color from your inspiration piece, be it a throw pillow, a bedspread, or some drapery fabric? Can you build a nice color story around that one item? Look for something to inspire your colors. You found furniture to inspire your style direction, now pick an appropriate accessory to develop your colors.

Frugal Tip Remember, you can always repaint. Paint is the most forgiving change you can make in the room design process. It is also the most cost effective.

Accessorize Smartly

You've determined a style and your colors. The room is taking shape. The large furniture has been placed. Now comes the fun . . . accessories. The decor and accessories you choose will emphasize the overall room design.

See some accessories you like? Grab em' and start building upon them. Are you seeing a lot of straight lines in your chosen pieces or lots of curves and spheres? Any design motif that keeps popping up? A fleur-de-lis or an image of a fern? What about materials used? Lots of wood or metal? Too much of one and not the other? Find a common element among your pieces to unify them. The style, the color, the materials, etc. If it's too "one-note" or too much of one thing, add in some other elements. Will a glass vase or piece of pottery round out the look? Just remember to keep in mind your design direction, your style and your colors. You will do fine.

Quick Tips

  • Develop a preliminary furniture layout to establish a general idea of what pieces you will need for your room.

  • Measure your space for your furniture. Buy the correct scale to fill the space nicely without "cramping it".

  • Choose accessories in the same color family. Pick an accent color and dot it throughout your room for more excitement.

  • Stick to a chosen style when in doubt. Don't buy items on impulse unless you are making some initial room design purchases for your inspiration.

  • Buy items in groups of three for decorative impact. It could be three varying heights of the same candleholder or three various, yet related, figurines to use in a grouping.

Do you have a specific room that needs some design help? Visit the sections below to get some ideas for those rooms in your home. I will show before and after images when able and explain what was done to each room, how much was approximately spent, and the reason for some of my decisions.

These examples will show the types of transformations that can be achieved while remaining budget-friendly. Hopefully they will enlighten you in developing your perfect room design.


Need help with a specific room? Ask in the Frugal Design Workshop.

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