We’ve had what seems like an extra-long closing time on our next house. The clock is torturing me as it drags out every tick of its hand. All I can do is plot and plan what I’ll do when I get my grubby little hands on it. Here’s my interior decorating plan for moving into our new house:
Define your style.
It doesn’t make sense for the living room to be traditional, but the kitchen ultra modern. Taking the time to define and refine your style gives unity to the house. I go more into exploring my eclectic modern style here and link to some quizzes to find your own design personality. My style changes and adapts, so it’s good to revaluate before getting started.
Think about one room at a time.
I get frazzled thinking about all the decisions we’ll have to make when we move. A common train of thought for me: “I think I would like the master bedroom white. But should the master bath be the same color? But I was going to paint the guest bathroom white and add a bright shower curtain. Then what color should the guest bathroom be? Light blue. No, I was going to do the boys’ room a turquoise blue and that would be too much …”
Now my imagination has traveled across the house without making any decisions. Instead of my nonsensical approach, I’m trying to spend some time thinking about one room and then move onto the next. For me, I’m starting with the master bedroom because that’s my relaxation spot. I’ll design it to my heart’s content and the guest bath can deal.
Find a room inspiration photo.
I look for the photo that I would love my room to look like. I dissect it to figure out the elements that appeal to me — color palette, furniture, fixtures, style, etc. Of course, in the end I’ll pull ideas from other sources and add in my own ideas, but at the beginning I gravitate toward one picture to give me a clear focus as I choose elements for the space.
For example, maybe I have a pretty olive green lamp that doesn’t have a home yet. I consider putting it in my bedroom, but when I think about whether it fits in my inspiration photo, above, I see that it doesn’t. So, I’ll have to find it a spot in another room.
To find your favorite interior shots, I suggest pinning quite a few rooms on Pinterest. Looking at lots of different spaces will help you find patterns in your choices. By separating my Pinterest boards into folders — bed, bath, kitchen, living, office — I notice that I even tend to choose certain things repeatedly for certain rooms. For example, I choose navy blue for office walls, geometric wallpaper for bathrooms, and colorful kilim rugs in the living room. (I didn’t know I had such an affinity for boho rugs until I looked back in my folders. It looks like I’m obsessed!)
Think about the floor plan.
I use online software to see how my existing furniture fits the new space. Home Styler is my favorite, which allows you to upload your floor plan and build from there. You can switch the view to see your room in 3D, even change the wall color. Pretty impressive for a free tool!
For each piece of furniture I own, I find one similar in Home Styler’s furniture library and place it off to the side of the floor plan. Seeing the floor plan from a bird’s eye view, and all of my existing furniture off to the side, gives me new ideas about putting furniture from different rooms of our old house together in a new way. Planning the layout ahead will also hopefully save some sweat on moving day!
Here is another helpful planner by Jordan’s Furniture.
Choose a color palette.
Next, I look for color inspiration — a photo, a piece of art, a pillow, a rug — something that combines colors I love.
For my boys’ room, I still love the leafy green curtains with red and teal from their old room, so they’ll guide the colors in their new room, as well. Having an object in the room with your color palette will 1) give you a color combination starting point and 2) pull the elements with complementing colors together once they’re in the same room.
To find your favorite colors, again I suggest pinning quite a few rooms or clipping tear sheets from magazines. Even if you’re certain you know your faves, give it a shot. On my boards, I’ve noticed that I chose black and white over and over. Now, if you were to ask my what my favorite colors are, I definitely wouldn’t say black or white, but apparently they are.
After I’ve gone through each room and have an idea of what I’d like to do, I combine my color palettes from each room to create a color palette for the whole house. When I have all the colors together in front of me, I can edit them and combine similar colors. Do I really need a powder blue and gray blue blue? This is especially helpful for wall colors. Having a consistent color palette for the whole house creates cohesiveness and flow.
Design Seed is a great resource for color palettes and combinations. I use it for home decor, as well as my graphic design work.
Mixing patterns and prints in with solids adds depth and interest. Pair a small print with a large print or two very different patterns for contrast. Keeping the colors within your defined color palette is what will make them go together well. Possibilities include florals, checks, stripes, ikat, floral, geometric, herringbone, houndstooth, dots, and animal prints.
With curtains, rugs, pillows, blankets, chairs … the options are limitless. Keep in mind, though, that two similar textiles together can compete instead of complement. But there are no rules set in stone. If you like it, that’s what matters! That’s what makes decorating fun and personal.
Live in it awhile.
I plan on living in the house for period of time before I buy new furniture or make any major decisions. I understand this is not an option for some fixer-uppers, but if the space is livable, I’d see how my family uses the space first.
For example, before we buy a new, larger dining room table, maybe we will experiment using the formal dining room as another sitting area. Or before I hire a carpenter to construct the built-ins of my dreams across a wall for the TV, I better make sure that it’s the best wall for the TV.
Purge what doesn’t fit.
Don’t keep furniture that doesn’t work anymore.
Sometimes furniture from your old house doesn’t fit the scale of your new house. Taller or shorter ceiling heights and smaller or larger room sizes can limit the function of a room. The example we’ve all seen is giant, oversized furniture in the bedroom. The one where you squeeze around the four-poster, king-sized bed and slide by monstrous heavy wood dresser with attached mirror to get to the bathroom.
Or maybe the room layout is different. In our old house, we had a corner desk that was a perfect fit for the wall between the living room and kitchen. But in our new living room there just simply isn’t a space for it. (The buyers of our house actually asked to keep it. I’m glad we said yes, otherwise we would have moved the giant thing for nothing!)
And sometimes your style has simply changed. I have a girly shabby chic dining room table and chairs I bought in my early twenties. It’s not really my style anymore, so I’m going to put it on Craigslist and put that money toward something that jives better with our newer furniture.
Remodel and renovate.
Time to put some of those plans into action. Brush the paint on the walls, add the crown moulding, change the backsplash, whatever is on the list that fits in the budget.
In with the new.
After living in the space for awhile, purging furniture, and a bit of remodeling, it’s time to add some new things. And that means shopping! (Finally!) Time has been my friend in the way of allowing me to change my mind 20 times before I actually buy and also gives me some time to save a few pennies.
By this point, I’ve accumulated a pretty specific list of what I’d like to add to the new set up — an armchair for the master, a dresser for the nursery, a few new throw pillows … Adding the textiles and styling the room is my favorite part!
Because I plan to do so much white in our house, I’m looking forward to painting my husband’s office navy blue. I chose this as my inspiration photo because I already have a white couch and similar artwork. The bookshelves, sconces and wood tones in this photo also appeal to me. It will take time to evolve the now empty space into something layered and cozy like this. Designer: Ashley Whittaker via Ashley Whittaker Designs
By this point the house lookin’ good. But is a room every really done? I can’t help but continue to switch things around from one room to another and daydream about my next project. The possibilities and styles are endless, and that’s the fun of it.
Moving part 1: Sell your house faster with these home staging ideas
Moving part 2: Change of address, services to stop, organizing checklist
Moving part 3: Problems to look for when buying a house checklist
Moving part 4: Interior decor process for a new house
Moving part 5: Family’s first night in new house checklist