Decorating from Scratch, or nearly Scratch

Let’s say you have a blank slate; you just added on a family room to your home, you’ve moved from a traditional home to a modern Condo, or you just bought your first home.  

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Maybe you have inherited a few furniture pieces or want to bring a few things with you from your last place.

How do you make your new space perfect?

Here are a few basics:

Start by photographing and labeling images of things you want to keep; everything from accessories to entire rooms will help you define what you would love to live with.  

When we work with a new client we create what we call a “Style Book.”  After seeing their new space in person or in floor plans, we make a book of tear sheets that hopefully represent every possible style that would work well in the home. We include images of anything that the client wants to keep. We go over it together.  This step is a real time-saver to help rule out any real “no no’s” and to establish a direction.

   Photo: Elle Decor                              Photo: Architectural Digest 

   Photo: Elle Decor                              Photo: Architectural Digest 

Keep in mind that consistency is important in home style, so if it is a new addition to your home, you’ll need to take off from the already established style and color scheme.

Next establish a furniture floor plan.  If you don’t have the budget to have a designer help with the design of the entire room, it might be smart to at least have them complete this step.  If you want to measure your room yourself and take tons of photos of the space, most designers would be happy to work with that.  Having a floor plan that works for you and provides furniture sizing allows you to do your own shopping with far fewer errors.

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Develop a color scheme that has contrast. Any color palate will fall short without the benefit of black and white added to the scheme.  An easy way to take it from there would be to find a fabric, a piece of furniture, or an accessory that you like and develop the rest of the scheme around that.  Alternatively, you can use one of the images that had a scheme you admired as your inspiration.


Add texture: a plush, like velvet or a handsome flat weave; and shine, such as a glass tabletop. All are great possibilities.  Other options are a rug with tons of texture or window treatments with a touch of shine; either will make a room far more interesting.

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Lighting can make or break a room.  We always make sure seating has a reading lamp nearby (and a place to set a beverage). But don’t stop there. You should vary your sources.  You’ll want general room lighting like a center fixture or recessed can lighting, lamp lighting, and accessory or spot lighting.  Floor lamps can be a great-added touch.  

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Make sure you add accessories to your space for more interest and texture.  Even if you are going for a minimalist look, a plant, a stack of coffee table books, etc., make a room more interesting and personal.