Last year when we moved into our apartment I could not wait to decorate. I was constantly scouting home decor stores around Atlanta gathering inspiration and planning our living room. I spent a ton of time putting together mood boards, pinning and shopping online. When I started out I put together a mood board of what I wanted the room to look like Wit & Delight’s home tour on the Everygirl (as you’ll notice her home screenshots in my inspiration board).
And then a few months later, after shopping around our apartment looked like this…
I found this navy couch at the ADAC sample sale in Atlanta for an amazing price and convinced myself the navy sofa would fit our lifestyle much better than a neutral one. So I went back to the drawing board to figure out the rest of my design plan.
And then another few months later, I decided I wanted a different style and the living room ended up looking like this.
While I really loved how the apartment turned out, I learned a lot about how to decorate. A labor of love for sure living through indecisiveness, style clashes, lugging three different rugs into our apartment and around to different rooms, etc. Each time when an item didn’t work it ended up being sent to another room impacting the design of our other rooms too. So here we go – 101 How To Decorate.
I’m working on decorating the living room in our new house so check back soon where I’ll be going step by step through this process!
1. Choose Your Style
This is probably the most important thing you do throughout the process. I like a lot of different styles as you can tell from the three looks I put together, so this was the biggest deterrent for me. I wavered throughout the decorating process and really forgot what look I was going for as I picked up pieces. A good way to determine your style is to look at your Pinterest for common themes. If you’re still not sure there are a lot of great quizzes out there. I like the quiz from Laurel and Wolf (even though they make you sign up with email to see your results) and Houzz.
2. Make a plan and stick to it!
Something that was said to me when we were planning for our wedding is so applicable here. Our wedding coordinator told me to pick my table, linens, flowers, etc. and GET OFF PINTEREST. And she was so right. The same is true for when your decorating. Pinterest is an amazing resource for getting inspiration and ideas for your plan but once you’ve set it don’t tempt yourself with new ideas that confuse your vision.
When your building your plan the first thing I’d recommend you do is something Domino The Book of Decorating taught me, take a picture of all of your decor individually and start to group them together in rooms. If something doesn’t fit in any of your rooms from a style of size standpoint give it away. This is the hardest part for me! (with clothes too) I always make up an excuse for why I should keep the item just in case I have a purpose for it later.
Once you’ve identified what you have for each room you’ll realize what pieces your missing to fill gaps. Measure and build a floor plan with a free tool online to get a feel for the room and how the pieces are fitting so you don’t order pieces that don’t fit, and set a budget.
3. Focus on the Big Items First, Then Accent Around It
I am so guilty of this. I pick up accent pieces at stores like Anthropologie and Home Goods before I’ve focused on the larger items in the room like big furniture pieces (couches, beds, cabinets), rugs or artwork. Adding accents to your room should be the absolute last thing because they can be harder to pre-plan on a mood board of birds-eye floor plan. Also, these are the pieces that will be easily changed in and out as your style evolves.
4. Mix and Match Quality and Budget Friendly Pieces
This is a tactic I believe works in anything when it comes to style – home decorating or fashion. Mixing expensive items with budget friendly ones can give the appearance of an expensive room without the price tag. Once you’ve built your mood board and figured out your floor plan you can start to identify which pieces you can skimp on and which you really want to invest on. Do you live in an apartment where you need an apartment sofa now, but that you’ll need to sell in a year? Go budget friendly. Are you settled in your home and are looking for a classic rug to keep in your dining room? Invest in a quality piece. Budget friendly decor has really evolved over the past few years. Target and IKEA are definitely go-tos, and IKEA has even announced they will start selling kits for hacking their pieces – AWESOME! Home Goods is a great go-to, but one you might not have thought of is TJ Maxx. It’s owned by the same parent company as HG, but not as well known for decor, so you can find some more steal pieces that haven’t been picked over yet.
5. Watch Sales
It’s hard to find a time of the year when a sale isn’t happening on furniture whether it’s Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day Weekend, Black Friday, Christmas…you get my drift…stores are constantly knocking 10-20% off items. This is where having a plan comes into play. Once you know what you need you can watch for a deal to hit. Sample sales and outlets are also a great option and even they have sales as well. If you’re in Atlanta, check out the Tanger outlets up 400 like Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn or local Facebook groups.
Estate and garage sales are also a great way to find a deal or a piece to DIY to your liking. Plus the treasure hunt is fun and adds a story to the piece you pick up.
You can also check for local antique markets like Scotts in Atlanta that bring in furniture vendors across the south and by Sunday are willing to haggle to not have to bring items still left back home.