Where To Start

I often get emails from people who have been in their homes for a while, but have done little to no decorating.  Not because they didn't want to, but because they just didn't know where to start--and were afraid of possibly making a mistake.  Maybe you have a similar problem and just need some guidance to get you going in the right direction. 

So, where to start? 
Although I don't think there's a real right or wrong answer, here's my best advice. . .

Don't pick your paint color first.  I'm always surprised when I hear someone say they're going to paint their living room avocado green, but they haven't picked anything else.  To me, paint color should be the complement to everything else (the perfect backdrop), and I try to always choose it last.

Work from the ground up.  Haven't got a clue what colors or patterns you want to bring into your room?  I would start with the area rug.  (And, yes, I would use one even if the room had carpeting.)  The rug will be the foundation of the space and can give you a good selection of colors to pull from.  Find something that appeals to you, and don't be afraid of pattern.  Having a patterned rug doesn't mean everything else in your room has to be solid, just as long as you do it in the right doses.

Suzie via DecorPad

Go with no-fail neutrals.  While bold pattern on a sofa is lots of fun, I realize this post is not necessarily for those who are most decisive.  So, if you were my client, I would encourage you to go neutral on the bigger pieces.  An off-white or tan sofa is a really safe option and can work a hundred different ways.  And, since upholstery will probably be one of your biggest investments, it's a smart move to go with a sofa in a classic color and style that will stand the test of time. 

Emily A. Clark

Mix it up.  While the easiest and quickest solution might be to go out and buy a matching set of tables (coffee table, end tables, console), I wouldn't recommend it.  A mix of different pieces is what gives a room interest and depth.  So, what if you already have a matching set and can't afford to replace it?  Work with what you have by choosing a piece or two (maybe the coffee table) and painting it a different color to break things up.  Also, shop your home for other items that you can incorporate.  A garden stool or an old trunk, for example, make great accent tables.

House Beautiful

Take a risk with your accessories.  Once you have your basics (a place to sit, a place to sit a drink, etc.) in place, it's time for the fun part--accessorizing.  Although it can seem overwhelming, it's really a great chance to try new things in small doses, and usually, without a major financial commitment.  If you've always considered yourself a traditionalist but want to go a tad more modern, throw a fun chevron pillow in with your florals.  Add texture with faux fur throws.  Have your kids create a colorful masterpiece on canvas.  You'll be amazed at what you can use together.  Layer and mix.  Buy and try.  Accessories can breathe new life into your room.

And, my last piece of advice?  Relax.  Have fun with the process, and don't take yourself too seriously.  It's your home, and decorating it shouldn't stress you out.  Take chances, and buy what you love instead of what everyone else says you should have.  And, if you're still at a loss, don't be afraid to ask for help along the way.  A good decorator can get you going in the right direction and help you identify the style you want.  Good luck!

Need more help getting started?  Contact me for information about my local and online decorating services.


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