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Last week, despite the heavy nationwide emphasis on Earth Day (it’s about time!), the most read decorating article on HGTV.com was “10 Steps to a Well-Designed Room“. Conclusion: No matter how green we get in our interiors, the problem of actually designing them still remains.

Lori Dennis dining room
Design by eco-friendly designer Lori Dennis

Here’s how to get that designer look by answering 10 quick questions. Answer each of these honestly and you’re well on your way to decorating bliss.

1. How will you use the room?
Try not to get stuck on labels. Just because the builder called it a dining room, doesn’t mean you can’t use it as a game room instead.

2. Who will use the room?
List the family members – and guests – who will be spending time in the room.

3. Find inspiration for the room’s design.
Make a “look book” for your room from designs you liked in magazines or even things you saw in your friends’ homes. I get lots of inspiration online at Designers’ Portfolio and Rate My Space.

4. Draw the floor plan of your room on graph paper.
Doing your measuring now will help determine which scale is best for furniture, artwork and lighting in your room. Don’t worry about being super accurate, unless you know you’re Type A.

5. Consider the design in the rest of your home.
I’m not a fan of matchy-matchy, but if the room you’re decorating is part of an open floor plan, you’ll want to create some sort of flow to keep the space feeling, well, open.

6. Pick a favorite thing and design around it.
Especially helpful for people who have no idea where to start. Top designers usually have one or a few inspiration pieces that serve as jumping off points for the rest of the room.

7. Compile your plan in a portable notebook.
Once you start shopping for decor, you’ll love the fact that all your ideas are in one place. Plus, carting around fabric swatches and small tile samples will let you know right away if the lamp you’re eying is right for the room.

8. Don’t buy everything from one store.
It’s alluring to walk into a furniture store, purchase an entire room and be done with it. But if your style or room’s function changes, you’ll have to start all over.

9. Beware of fads.
Designers do incorporate design trends into rooms, but they do so smartly. For example, area rugs, accessories and art are great places to inject your latest zebra-print obsession, and just as easy to remove when you’re tired of safari.

10. Good lighting is essential.
The most important step to getting a designer look is investing in great lighting: ambient, overhead and mood lighting. Just make sure you’re using CFLs so you can still be green.

What designer tips do you use when decorating your home? Post it in the comments!


Decorating Guides

12 Responses

  1. Doris says:

    I've painted a guestroom a very pale yellow (the color of butter). The bed is a four post black wrought iron with a half wheel design. What color would look best on the bed? I also have an armoir (cherry wood) in there. It can stay or go.
    Thanks for your advise.


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