There are a million and one ways to style and design a room. So today, I want to share a few tips on how I like to get started in a space, to save time, and money along the way. I wish when I started out, someone had sat me down and said, “Hey cutie, that’s a great idea but that gorgeous couch ain’t’ gonna fit in your space if you have 2 armchairs across from it. Let’s do a floor plan first.”
Let’s just say I made a lot of mistakes along the way. But, never fear. Below are my top 5 tips, (although I have more ) on how to kick off planning your dream living room while ensuring that your final space looks as gorgeous as you have envisioned in your mind. Sometimes, just a little nudge in the right direction (in the right order) can make all the difference. Let’s dive in:
- Make a list. Everyone lives in their space differently. Perhaps you want the roar of the fireplace as a focal point, but your “other,” wants the room to be all about their 56” flat-screen TV while insisting that they have to face directly into it. Make a list of what is most important for you and your family in the space and prioritize those asks. It will take some compromise, and that’s okay. Maybe the TV doesn’t need to be the focal point above the fireplace, but rather on a console framed by beautiful art instead. Make that list first and hash it out with your loved ones.
- As mentioned above. One of the biggest design challenges for space is deciding on if the TV needs a seated view. Be honest with yourself and your loved ones about this. If watching TV is the primary function in the space, versus direct conversation with others in the evening then so be it. But if you have to, I suggest that you grab our favorite frame TV. Your TV can look like a piece of art when not in use. The decision on whether or not the TV must be front and center will dictate a few other decisions you will want to address in the next important step of the process…
Make a Floor plan
- Please do this before you make a mood board. I know it’s tempting to jump right into selecting a beautiful rug and throw pillows. But, it can get super distracting to pick out pieces of furniture before you know how space can actually accommodate furnishings from a flow and measurements standpoint. Many items won’t make sense and I find it best to work on getting the room measurements both length width and height first. In doing this you will want to see if there is enough space for foot traffic while assessing how the room elements work together. I think it’s also good to ensure windows and electrical sockets are accounted for. You want to know this for lamp placement. Once you get these measurements right you can easily lay in the sizes of different pieces in a notebook or a program like SmartDraw. I love this step! Experiment and keep in-mind the bullets above as you decide where things should go.
Make a Mood board
- Okay! You are clear for take off. I love making mood boards and create them in PPT most often. I even use photoshop from time to time. I also highly suggest using this site to remove backgrounds from your finds so you can quickly and easily throw them into your mood board. But really you can use anything including good old fashion cut outs of prints from your printer or even magazines. Of course, Pinterest is a great place to get ideas too. What’s important is that you can see how patterns, shapes, textures, and colors read together as a whole. Remember that a mood board isn’t meant to be a precise plot of the pieces, but rather a way to see how the room will feel as a complete design. You want to assess how the colors and textures all “jive,” together. Just make sure that you include most of the key foundational pieces such as a couch, rug, coffee table, art, lamps and chairs. I like to make multiple versions showing different options of rugs and art etc. Have fun and make sure to reference your floor plan along the way as needed. But really, this should be loose and casual. Once you have the pieces you like you can begin shopping!
- Super specific right? I know. But, here’s the thing. In the end, if you select a rug first it will help you figure out what colors and vibe you want to use in the rest of the space. It’s harder to nail a mood starting from a piece of art or even a couch. The rug takes up a ton of visual language so it’s worth getting this right up front and early. Just make sure that your rug is big enough to have all your furniture kissing the inside edge, about 2’“- 6″. But, you don’t want all four legs of your furniture pieces inside the rug either. Again, have pieces just kissing the inside edge or have all of them off to avoid visual tension. But don’t skip this step. Not sure where to start, you can grab my perfect look good anywhere rug in olive/charcoal. Get a great rug, in the perfect palette at just the right size and the rest of the space will come together quickly. I promise.
- Now it’s time to shop. I thrift a lot and I go over a solid strategy for piecing together affordable finds here. Be sure to check out your local thrift stores, online options (my favorites here) and big box stores to furnish your space. But, before you head out make a list of what you need along with their measurements. Tackle the big ticket items like the ones mentioned above and keep in-mind which have the longest lead times for shipping as needed. Remember when budgeting to take into account fees for tax and shipping! It can add up fast if you are on a budget. Ordering and shopping is a really fun part of the process, so enjoy it!
- Okay, this is arguably my favorite part of the process. As you begin creationg your are making your mood board try to envision the little things that you will want to adorn your new coffee table, nightstand, or walls. Believe it or not – less is more. Sometimes it just takes a few stand-out styling pieces, carefully placed (not too cluttered) together in a stunning vignette to take your room from ordinary to extraordinary. Here are some of my most popular styling pieces – that y’all love. Not sure how to style? That’s okay, ya gotta start somewhere. Here are Some tips for ya.
- Mix materials – that means woods, stone, brass, and metals. You will get a deeper more enriched look – try not to be too matchy-matchy.
- Negative Space – Don’t overcrowd. You want each piece to feel special. Even a beat-up old globe placed on a mantle with some room to breathe will feel like a million bucks. Just give it some space to shine
- Place in Odd Number – if you are grouping things be sure to place them in off numbers – it looks more intentional that way. Don’t forget to leave space between bunches of objects. That reminds me….
- Create Layers – place things behind, in front of, and to the side overlapping. This creates interest. Things placed too perfectly will create tension in your eye
- Design Asymmetrical – Speaking of. Place things slightly off-center or in thirds. The triangle is your friend too. Scale-up then down and always slightly askew. I promise this works!
Want some styling recommendations? Of course, ya do. Here are just a few of my most popular recommendations for work almost anywhere pieces:
- Grecian Bust Pot
- Fox Art
- Swimming Hole Art
- Distressed vessel
- Oval Lamp with Pleated Shade
- Faux Cherry Blossoms
- Vintage Breadboard
- Loloi II Rug Antique Moss
Remember, that less is sometimes more in a living room. Especially, when styling a space. Don’t over crowd your room and don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by having to get it all done at once. Home takes time. Enjoy the process and if you have questions or want to discuss more about how I make mood boards or floor plans reach out on instagram. Good luck and e joy the process.