Home Decorating: PLANNING–Step By Step, Start To Finish

(Part 2 Of A 4-Part Series)

Part 1 of this series was about Finding Your Preferred Decor Style.  This part describes PLANNING For Decorating Your Home. It’s presented in Steps, from Start To Finish.

This article strives to provide a resource for those who are starting out in home decorating, or those who want a new look for their home.  This article is intended to help you: determine your decor style preference, create a decorating plan, then make it happen with modest investments of time and money.    This article will not likely be of value for someone: who is a seasoned home decorator, seeking to add multiple layers of additional decor, or has a large budget.

We have included many links to additional resources that will make your Home-Decorating Journey: Informative, Interesting, Enjoyable, & Easier.  The linked resources come from many well known & respected sources such as HGTV (Home & Garden Television).

The Steps you see below are a summary of this article: “This Is How Interior Designers Decorate a Room From Start to Finish”, by Gabrielle Savoie.  To see the entire article, click here: How to Decorate A Room 

Step 1: Time To Get Inspired  

If you want a great end-result, start with a great planning.  The first thing you must do is determine the style of home decor(s) you want in your home.

  • For years, it’s been recommended to to look at home-decorating magazines and clip photos of what appeals to you at first glance.
  • Visit Home-Builder Model Homes
  • Watch networks like HGTV
  • In this article, WE go into great detail to assist you in getting inspired to plan your home decorating journey..
  • GO DIGITAL!  Check out HGTV’s Rooms Viewer at this link: HGTV Rooms Viewer.
  • With this tremendous resource you see only what you are interested in from their library of nearly 52,000 rooms photos!

The HGTV Rooms Viewer Lets You Choose Which:

  • Room
  • Decor
  • Colors
  • And, you are allowed to copy their photos into a word-processing document.
  • Plus, it tells you where to buy what you see!

Sample Photos From HGTV’s Rooms Viewer

hgtv rooms viewer transitional living room with neutral colors

hgtv rooms viewer traditional living room in blues

hgtv rooms viewer contemporary living room with multiple colors







Transitional Decor with Neutral Colors                       Traditional Decor with Blues                      Contemporary Decor with Multiple Colors

Step 2: Finding the Commonalities

After having gathered representations of what you like, look for the commonalitiesCommonalities tell you want appeals to you the most.   Once you have gathered enough photos, you should be able to determine (or confirm) your preferred: Decor Style, Colors, Furniture Style, Furniture Finish, and some nuances.  For instance, you may determine that: you prefer beige over gray color-palates (preferred colors), prefer transitional-style furniture in dark woods (furnishings), and want punches of color from the red color-palate (nuance).  Finding these commonalities is important part of the planning process, and will help you avoid making purchase-decisions that don’t look good together once you have assembled all the items in your home.

Step 3: Take Inventory Of What You Already Own

Once you have determined your preferred looktake inventory of what you own now, and decide whether each piece has a place in your new or newly decorated home. Do you have furniture that doesn’t fit, or work with the look you prefer? Only you can judge whether each individual piece will add to, or distract from, your overall look.

Our Tip:  Don’t buy home furnishings on their individual merit.  It can look fabulous in the store, but when you place it in the room, it’s as if a sign pops up over it saying “What Did You Do?”

minimalist decor

purple high back chair







Example:  This is your preferred decor style.                           This looks great in the store, but does not work with your minimalist decor style.

Step 4: Consider Your Lifestyle & Your Home’s Size When Selecting Furnishings

Ask these questions before buying furnishings: 1. Does it make sense for your lifestyle?  2. Does it fit the space?

  • Your household’s needs must be 1st in influencing furniture purchases.  What recurring activities typically take place in your home (example: large family gatherings)?   Your lifestyle is the 1st guide to furniture placement, size, & capacity.
  • Your home’s size comes in 2nd.  The larger or smaller the home, the larger or smaller the furniture needs to be.

If there are 2 people in your home, is a breakfast table that seats 6 right for you?  Perhaps…  If the breakfast-area space is large, it may need a larger dining set to properly fill it.  If the breakfast-area is modest in size, it’s likely a set that seats 4 is enough.

breakfast area with dining set too small

breakfast area with dining set too large









On the left, the dining set is too small for the space.  There’s an empty space (designed for a larger set) behind the furniture.

On the right, the dining set is too large for the space.  It’s forcing some of the seating into a traffic-pattern, and providing a great way to knock a knee into the corner of the bench.

If the home needs seating for only 4, the bench can be removed and the existing furniture works much better within the space. Removing the bench also allows the table to be pulled outward to align with the walls.  This allows more room for the chairs that back to the window.

Step 5: Identify What You Need To Add (or perhaps need to get rid of)

Once you have done your planning, start taking steps to achieve it.  Make a list of every furnishing you would like to have (examples: side tables, sofas & chairs).  Next, it’s time to determine what you can have (at least for now).  1. How much you can spend and  2. The size of the spaces you want furniture in will ultimately dictate which pieces you can afford, and have a place for in your new home.

Do you want a lot of seating in your family space?  Will it fit?  Are there more appropriate ways to provide the seating (example: a sectional-sofa versus sofa & love seat)? The first steps when planning to buy new home furnishings are: 1. Measure the size of the space where it will sit.  2. Get the furniture’s dimensions to determine if it’s the proper size.

Our Tip: When considering two sizes — when in doubt, choose something that’s a little smaller than will fit.  The bigger piece can overwhelm the room.

sofa too large for the room

large sectional sofa that fits the space











This is a great sofa, but it’s too big for the space.                                                 This sofa is even larger, but fits well within the large space.

Step 6: Measuring & Furniture Placement

  • After selecting what you can buy at this time, proper planning dictates that you ensure it fits.  Buy grid-paper to create a to-scale floorplan of your room.  Here is a free link that provides what you need to manually create a to-scale room layout with same scale furniture. Room Furnishings Layout Planner (to scale)
  • GO DIGITAL with an app that creates a floor plan to scale.  Next, add the furniture (in the same scale as the room) to see if it will fit.  Tip: Add 3 feet of space for major traffic-patterns.  Click Here: Free Online Virtual Room Apps.  Their first choice is, here is a link:

grid paper with to-scale furniture placement

software generated room and furniture layout diagram








Step 7: Planing Lighting

Once you have a furniture plan, plan for lighting.  Consider all sources of light (example: pendants, recessed, table, torchiere, up-lights, floor lamps & more) — being mindful of lighting requiring an electrician.  Add table & floor lamps near frequently used seating, and on side tables. A room should have at least 3 sources of light at eye level — it needs to be positioned around the room in a triangular shape.

various accent lighting styles

living room with a lot of artificial lighting

Portable lighting comes in many forms.        This room has ample lighting from several sources.

Our Tips:

  • Task-lighting is used for a task such as reading (task-lighting).
  • Ambiance-Lighting is to adorn the room, or call attention to certain aspects within the space.
  • While a single source may do both, it’s typically best to provide lighting specific to each need and decor goals.

end tables on each side of sofa

all in one table + lamp by a chair

table lamp + floor lamp on ends of sofa






Task Lighting

uplighting showcasing architectural feature

lighting to highlight a fireplace

outdoor ambiance lighting



Ambiance Lighting

Ambiance-Lighting Often Highlights Special Features Within The Space.  Ambiance-Lighting can be inside or outdoor.

uplighting for interior plants

general electric stained glass light bubl

light & colors cast from G.E. Stained Glass Light Bulb

light & colors cast from G.E. Stained Glass Light Bulb






Ambiance-Lighting doesn’t have to be white.          Lots of color for a small price.  G.E. 25-Watt “Stained-Glass” Light Bulb

While while light is typically used for ambiance-lighting, adding color can enhance its effect.  There are many types of light bulbs that produce colored light.  It can be purchased in incandescent, led or string / strip lights with small led bulbs.

This multi-colored 25-Watt “Stained-Glass” Incandescent light bulb is available at Target, click here: GE Stained Glass 25-Watt Incandescent Light Bulb

clear red glass 25-watt incandescent light bulb




This link takes you to where you can buy either clear or frosted light bulbs in: red, blue, green, and yellow. 25-Watt Incandescent Color Light Bulbs

Step 8: Budgeting

Once you have identified and located the items you want to buy, proper planning requires you to determine if they fit within your budget. Start by planning how much you can spend, and how much you are comfortable spending.   For each item, list its price. If you don’t know, list the price you are comfortable paying for it.   You will likely discover the total for everything you want is more than your budget.

Next, subtract 10-20% from the total budget (the percent is determined by the dollar amount of the budget) for unforeseen events and costs. Next, determine the priority you place on each piece. Then, starting with the highest priority piece, add the next highest, 1 by 1, until you have reached your spending-limit.

Step 9: Buying Furnishings

Start shopping for pieces you love, starting with the most costly ones.   As you select each piece, add its price to your spending-summary. Assume you will go over budget, and select a less expensive 2nd choice for each major piece of furniture. Most items and styles are available at a variety of price-points. Also, visit budget retailers to determine if they have an acceptable piece for less money.

Our Tip: Furniture comes in all price-ranges to fit your budget.  On-line shopping allows you to see a seemingly endless selection of furnishings at all price levels. Here are two sofas, each on one end of the price spectrum — links are provided to each.

expensive sectional sofa with chaisesectional sofa from amazon








$7,000.00 Sectional w/chaise (as shown) Sectional Sofa With Chaise

$800.00 Sectional w/chaise + ottoman (as shown) Sectional Sofa + Ottoman

Our Tip:Save a lot of steps with some clicks — You can typically do a lot of this on-line first.  If you are starting without any knowledge of where to shop, do an internet search for furniture-retailers in your area.  Chances are, you will be able to get: a photo, dimensions, identification information, and the price from their website.

In most cases, you can copy the image from the website into a word-processing document.  This allows you to see all your selections together.  Seeing everything at one time can help you visualize what they will all look in the room.  It may also help avoid items that look great alone, but not with the other pieces you have chosen.


Step 10: Pick One “Anchor” Piece

Chances are you will find items you truly want, but don’t within your budget.  Keep a record of these pieces, so you can quickly find them when down the line when you can buy them.  If you are on-line, you can typically copy the URL / website-link into your file for quick & easy later reference.  If you decide you have to have the piece now, determine what can wait until later, in order to get back within budget.

Our Tip:  Home Decorators often call a big & expensive piece an “Anchor Piece” for the room.  Often, this piece will bring the appearance of the entire room upward due to its obvious cost and commanding visual-presence.  An Anchor Piece calls enough attention to itself so that less expensive pieces sitting near it look more expensive too.

anchor piece of furniture is one that draws the eyes to it and dominates the room

This Dining Table serves as the “Anchor Piece” for the space.  The eyes naturally go to it due to its Commanding Visual-Presence.

Our Tip #2:  When all is said & done — It’s not what you spent that matters.  It’s how much it appears you spent.

Step 11: Pick Your Paint Colors Last

Waiting to pick wall color(s) is a great idea, because you can then choose the colors that go well with your furnishings.  There are endless paint colors to choose from.  It’s easier to pick a wall color that complements your furniture than the other way around..

A paint color that looks great in a matchbook-size sample may seem overwhelming when everything is that color.   If you are unsure, paint one-foot squares on your wall, to get a better representation of what they look like as more area is covered.  Also, look a the color during: morning, evening, and once it’s dark outside and your lighting is on.  Each paint color may appear different at various times, and especially one it’s dark and natural light gives way to to artificial lighting.

SUMMARY:  The goal of this section (Part 2) is to provide an outline of How To Plan Your Home Decorating Journey.  With proper planning, the following steps (completed in the order of the plan) will make your decorating journey: easier, more enjoyable, more productive, less expensive, within budget, and with less possibility of having to do something over once you see the end-results.



Al’s Plumbing, Heating & A/C provides repair or replacement of every plumbing component in your home.   Additionally, we: maintain, repair, or replace all brands of Central A/C, Heat Pump, and Gas & Electric Furnace.   We install new HVAC Systems from American Standard (made by the same company as Trane).  Ameristar (a product of American Standard HVAC) and Coleman (made by York).   Call Al’s today to discuss any needs or concerns you have.  We’re here to help, and also provide 24/7 Service.