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How to Start a Decorating Project

By Jan Soults Walker

You know you're ready to change the look of your room, but how do you begin? Here are some tips on how to start your decorating project.

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Andrea Schumacher

Dream

Your imagination often serves as the catalyst for change in a room as your mind's eye captures a glimpse of what could be. You ask yourself the questions: Could this room be better? More efficient? Refreshed? My style? Go ahead and dream about the possibilities and then write down your wish list. At this starting point the sky's the limit, so dream big.

See our guide: Design Styles, Defined!

Gather

Search for looks you love—peruse this website and other home-related online resources, walk the aisles of home improvement stores, and visit design centers. Flip through shelter magazines and decorating and remodeling books and go on home show tours. Snap photos, tear out pages, and assemble images of your favorite designs. Styles, themes, and colors will begin to emerge, and you'll have a clear understanding of the look that really makes your heart sing.

Research

Now dig a little deeper. What specific elements create the look you love? Check out specific surfaces and products you could use to pull together the refreshed style you're most drawn to. Pay a designer a flat or hourly fee to review your plans and provide valuable feedback and suggestions. Designers make a living knowing the latest products and can quickly spot ways to improve your plan. A designer can also help you capture the look by suggesting affordable substitutions for pricier elements.

Read our 5 Tips for Working with an Interior Designer.

Inspire

Start with one element you love that contains the color palette you want to bring into the space: a piece of fabric, artwork, or dishware, for example. Then use this inspiration piece as your springboard for selecting paint, fabrics, furnishings, lighting, cabinetry and storage, surfaces, and accessories.

Shop

Know your budget and stick to it. With the Internet at your fingertips, you can more easily compare prices and find the best deals. Read product reviews and talk to experts about the products you're considering.

For more home design ideas and advice, check out:

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