Moving into a new house may be a wonderful experience, but it can also be a stressful time, particularly when it comes to decorating. How can you make your place appear its finest while also expressing your own particular style? If you do it well, you’ll end up with a cozy, happy house. If you do it incorrectly, you’ll end up with a mishmash of furniture, textiles, and paint colors that never come together to form a pleasant whole. You’ll have a far better chance of success if you prepare ahead and follow the same processes as expert interior designers.

Before you can get to the finish line, you must first figure out where you’re heading.


Don’t Begin Your Search at a Furniture Store

Many people have heard that going grocery shopping while you’re hungry leads to poor decisions. In the same way, don’t go furniture buying in a rush just because you have an empty house. Yes, you will require a sofa. However, if you choose the pink-striped sectional only on the basis of its appearance at the store, without collecting measurements or considering the rest of the space, you’ll be stuck with it. The remainder of the room will have to be created around that sofa, and if it’s too big for the area, it’ll appear out of place for the rest of its life.

Armed with a measuring tape and a notepad, begin in the space you want to furnish.

Be Aware of Your Measurements

It’s crucial to match the scale of furniture to the scale of a room. A large sectional sofa may easily overwhelm a tiny space, while slim chairs might get buried in a spacious loft. Measure the length and breadth of each room you want to decorate, as well as the ceiling height and any obstacles such as stairwells, columns, radiators, and other obstructions, before you start planning. To prepare for window coverings, it’s also a good idea to measure window openings, as well as the wall space below, above, and to the sides of each one.

“The first mistake most people make is buying the wrong size furniture – sofas that don’t fit in the room, sofas that don’t fit through doorways, tables that are too small, desks that are too big, nightstands that hang into the doorway,” said David Kleinberg, founder of David Kleinberg Design Associates in New York. Avoiding such issues can be as simple as carefully gauging your area.

Make a floor layout.

Once you have your room’s measurements, you can use them to create a floor plan that offers you a bird’s eye view of the entire home. “Every project should begin with a floor plan,” said Alexa Hampton, head of Mark Hampton, her father’s New York interior design business. “You must be familiar with the area.”

One alternative is to sketch a floor plan with paper, a pencil, and a ruler the old-fashioned manner. Most professional designers, on the other hand, utilize drafting software such as AutoCAD. Between those two extremes are programs like Magicplan, Floor Plan Creator, and RoomScan Pro, which promise to make it simple for homeowners to produce simple floor plans (some even automate measurements using your smartphone’s camera, but double-check those numbers).

Start experimenting with furniture placement after you have the space’s layout, making sure that the footprint of each piece is sized to fit the size of the drawing.

Make a decision on how you want to live.

This is the most difficult phase, since there are no correct or incorrect responses. Traditional or modern, formal or easygoing, and aesthetically warm or cold, rooms can be created. “To the best of your abilities,” Ms. Hampton added, “you must attempt to understand how you would like to live in a specific environment.” “How will you spend your time?” How many people do you think dwell there? Is there a family? What are your goals in terms of how you want to live?”

A home for someone who routinely throws huge dinner parties, for example, should be decorated differently from a home for someone who eats out every night. Someone who thinks of collapsing in front of the TV should have a different living room than someone who dreams of hosting costly fundraisers.

Follow in the footsteps of the experts

To hone your personal style, go through design books and publications, as well as online sites like Houzz, Pinterest, and Instagram. “Develop a dossier of preferred photographs based on the style that you respond to the most,” said Brad Ford, an interior designer in New York City.

Mr. Kleinberg said that once you’ve found photographs you like, you should look into the specifics. “Look at where pattern is employed vs solids, and whether or not color can be used well,” he added. It will also assist you in deciding on everything from the style of furniture you want to a possible window treatment approach.

It Should Be Taped

Use painter’s tape in the real space to define where furniture will be placed on floors and against walls to take floor plan ideas a step further.

“We use blue tape on the floor to block out different aspects,” Anne Maxwell Foster, owner of Tilton Fenwick in New York, explained. “How will the rug be placed?” Is it necessary to clip it? How far does the coffee table extend? Even though we have everything on a furniture design down to the sixteenth of an inch, visualizing everything in the room and being able to move around helps.”

Make a financial plan.

There’s no way around it: if you spend too much money on an unusually pricey chair, you’ll have less money to spend on the rest of your house. “You want to make sure you’re spending your money strategically,” Mr. Ford remarked. “A budget provides a road plan for dividing the expenses of items amongst rooms.” You can still make an exception if you locate a one-of-a-kind dining table, he said, but you’ll have to think about where else you might save money to pay for it.

Phases should be planned.

Drywall finishing, hardwood floor restoration, and ceiling painting are all nasty jobs. It’s preferable to do this sort of work before putting any furniture or accessories into the room, if at all feasible.

If it’s not possible to avoid it, cover large furniture with plastic drop cloths and tape accessories in boxes to safeguard them.

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