Do your homework before deciding on furniture, color scheme


Last time, we talked about some things you need to think about before you start your next decorating project. These included your budget, your time frame, and whether you plan on purchasing right away.

Once you have answered those questions, you are ready to move on to just a bit more preliminary work before you can really dive into your project. Trust me, all this work you do in the beginning will save you a lot of headaches in the end. It should save you some money, too.

The next step is to decide what you are keeping and what you are getting rid of in the room you are decorating. Just because you want a new look in your room does not mean you have to get rid of everything. Consider painting or refinishing wood pieces to save money.

Next, map out your room on graph paper. Use quarter-inch scale graph paper and use one square for each foot. Make sure to include all doors and note whether or not they open into the room or not. You should also mark electrical outlets, cable hookup and windows, as well as any other items that need to be designed around.

Chances are it has been a while since you have purchased furniture and the new pieces are probably going to be a lot larger than your older ones. You want to make sure the furniture you are choosing will actually fit into your room. You must allow a minimum of 3 feet for any walkways. You should also leave up to 2 feet between a coffee table and a sofa. In the bedroom, make sure that you have enough room for dresser drawers and closet doors to open properly.

Now you are ready for the fun part, picking a color scheme and style for the room. If you really do not know where to start, then begin reading decorating magazines and catalogs. Tear out pages of rooms you like and rooms you do not like. Then take a moment to look for the similarities in the pictures. Are all the pictures of rooms you like the same color or the same style of furniture? What is similar about all the rooms you do not like? Or look for inspiration elsewhere.

Keep your color scheme to three colors. You can use softer and brighter versions of those three, but no additional colors. If you use more, you run the risk of having your room look busy or childish.

By now you should be really prepared to start shopping with confidence. You know what kind of furniture you need for your room, what will fit into the room, and the colors or theme you want to use for the room. This should make the project fun and eliminate the overwhelmed feeling that comes with being unprepared.

Julie Chrissis is a professional home stager and interior decorator based in Nashua and Malden, Mass. She can reached at