Again, I am working on my den, so my "plan" is reworking an entire room...but the "rules" apply to any DIY project, large or small!
When designing a room, I wish I could tell you to pick a couch first...or use a rug to pull your colors from...or pick your wall color first, then pick everything else.
I can't. Again, I think you need to do what YOU love and honestly, what you can afford. Maybe you are stuck with your couch at this moment. That is okay...pillows, throws and slip covers can mask a color or style that might not fit into the over all plan right at the moment. Maybe you have a treasured rug you want to use...great...you can always pull colors from the rug and work from there. Everyone's needs and budget are different and sometimes the best thing you can do is work with what you have to keep.
That being said, I would like to point out that for 12 years I tried unsuccessfully to decorate WITH the ugly brass colored shower doors I had installed when I bought this house. That was a mistake. Sometimes you have to work "around" a decor ick rather than "with" it...in other words, do what you LOVE...not what you think you have to do just because you can't change one element.
Let's be brutally honest....few of us can afford to do a whole room project ALL at once, so sometimes we have to keep and work around a few elements that we just can't afford to change right now (maybe a piece of furniture or flooring.) Still doable.
For example, let's say you have a brown couch...and you want light, bright and blue. Trust me, you can "mask" (and even enhance) the color of a couch with throws and pillows. An undesirable floor? Try a colorful rug or even a neutral outdoor rug (yes, you can put a rug over carpet!) Do a search on Pinterest and I would bet you will find your "undesirable" camouflaged by someone else's "craftiness."
Remember too, if budgets are tight, you have to be willing to shop resale, garage sales, thrift stores and consignment shops....even your own home or the home of friends and family! You have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and paint a table or reupholster a chair. Maybe sew a few throw pillows.
One important cardinal rule ...DO NOT put any element in a room you do not love just to "fill space." Empty space is better than having something that causes you to grit your teeth every time you look at it! Trust me...someday you will find the perfect piece....and you might miss it entirely if something is already cluttering up the space.
So....let's put together the entire plan.
Again, you should have a file of inspiration and a drawing of your space with all your measurements and a detailed list of things you WANT to do! (Again, doesn't matter if it is a dresser or an entire room!)
Now we can actually start looking at style and colors.
Look at all your inspiration pictures...what are the common elements. What do you love about each picture? The color? The style? The hardware? The lighting?
Now is the time to take a hard look at each photo and draw out what you love. Ignore what you DON'T like and focus only on what you DO like.
Can you incorporate that element or color in "your plan?" No, I can not turn my little 16x16 den into a gymnasium sized lounging room. But I can find the common elements in each of my inspiration pictures and incorporate those elements into my plan.
Maybe you have three pictures that all have different styles of furniture...but the COLOR scheme is similar in all of them. Maybe you have three entirely different dressers...but all have similar hardware. Maybe you have three rooms, all different, but they all have a furniture style you love. (mid century, classic, transitional) See a pattern emerging?
This is where a "design board" may come in handy for some people. I know REAL designers use them because it helps customers visualize the space and all the elements. If you are one who desperately needs a visual, by all means, go for it.
Don't feel like you can't do this just because you don't know how to use Photoshop. Putting together a "design board" can be as simple as cutting out the elements you love in your "inspiration" photos and glueing them onto a piece of plan paper. It really is THAT simple.
The site doesn't give you sources for the color, but it gives you combinations that will work together. If you have trouble coordinating colors, it is a great resource for just that. Let's say you love blue, but don't know what other colors you can pull in with the blue....awesome site for just that! Or again, you have a brown couch, love "blue" and need other colors that will pull those colors together...they have it!
The Dreaded COST!!!!
Back to MY plan.
First thing on my list is the fireplace. I know it needs to be repainted the trim color I am now using and I want to get rid of the black marble surround. After looking at my "inspirations" I knew I wanted a "cut face" travertine. But I liked the "smooth" finish travertine vs. the "rough" cut.
So I found what I wanted online and ordered it....
Honestly, I didn't just order it from a picture online...I actually shopped around locally. The only thing I can't find online is a travertine I can use on the floor. I know what I want so when this tile comes in I will just have to take a piece to the local tile shops and find it (yes, that is harder than it sounds!)
Since I am removing the old marble in order to put up tile, I need to strengthen the wall backing by replacing the sheetrock with durrock (cement board). While I have the sheetrock off, I want to add a little insulation around the fireplace. Note, all these changes are on my list...so I know exactly what I want to do and what materials I will need (fortunately I had both durrock and insulation so I didn't have to buy any!)
I pretty much know what all the elements will cost me because I can figure, in my head, what I need and how much I need and what I can do myself. And I know what the materials and labor will cost....on average.
If you don't have a clue, take your "paper plan" to a home improvement store and shop around. Let them figure out how much you need of all your "wants." Look at different elements and get an idea of what each element of our plan will cost!
Shop your local stores and look online. Read reviews.
And next to every project on your list, write down what it is going to cost! ALL the materials and labor costs. Installing tile...don't forget the mastic. Painting...don't forget the rollers, brushes and pans. New flooring...can you DIY? No...how much is the labor? And if you are installing new flooring, how much will it cost to remove and dispose of the existing floor. Do you have to replace trim...don't forget the cost of paint, caulk, and even simple things like nails and putty!
Sadly, this is where we start trimming! Don't take the things you can't afford off the list right now, but highlight the things you CAN afford to do right now, and mentally set the other items aside for a later date.
My plan? The fireplace "update." New flooring...a must, and the reason I started all this. Paint the walls. Changes to some of the decor elements and additional seating.
And yes, I am going to have to wait on a few things, even though I am able to do all the labor myself. I know the fireplace tile is going to cost me around $300. And the new flooring around $900. Paint...around $100. So the new furniture will have to wait for now. As much as I would love a new couch and a couple of side chairs, it is just not in the budget at the moment.
And that is okay...kinda. Well, not really, but I am doing what I need to do and the changes will be enough to tide me over for the time being.
Part of my plan for my master bedroom was to reupholster the two club chairs. That project will be time consuming and costly...and it is not on my "priority" list right now. So it can wait...someday I will do them, but not today...and that is okay. It is still in my "plan!"
AGAIN, A TIP! Sometimes what is there clouds our mind. If you can, take EVERYTHING out of the room. Set aside the things you intend to keep and GET RID OF THE THINGS YOU DO NOT NEED OR NO LONGER WANT! Seriously, put them on Craigslist or drop them at your local Salvation Army (And don't forget to get a receipt...it is worth money on your taxes!)
"Empty" the canvas. If you aren't going to use the pillows, rugs, furniture, etc...get it out of the space! Same with furniture makeovers...if you don't like the hardware that is on it, take it off! If you are going to paint a piece, but you don't know what color because you can't see past the orange stain, prime it white.
It is always easier to visualize new hardware and a different color if you start at "base neutral."
If you have dark walls and you can't imagine them "lighter and brighter" go ahead and prime the walls...take them back to "base neutral" and start from there.
Soooo...what is the secret to making a good plan?
Know what you love...and want....and need! And of course, what you can afford!
Find your inspiration.
Know what you have to work with by drawing a plan and making a detailed list.
Shop around, pick your materials and assign a cost for every project!
Decide what you can do NOW and what will have to wait!
And roll up your sleeves and get busy! YOU CAN DO IT!!!!
Over the next few weeks I will share a few of the DIY projects in this room...tile, flooring, painting. So stay tuned!