Decorating: Where should I start?

Watching Maggie become a first-time homeowner has definitely been an enlightening process for us. Although Mag was super excited for her first place, she also shared how overwhelmed she felt at the idea of decorating that space from scratch. The girl has serious style, loves fashion, wants her place to look great but isn’t really sure where to look, what to buy, and how that style would even translate into home decor.

It’s like if someone put us in a commercial kitchen and told us that we have the next 12 hours to serve a gourmet Thanksgiving meal from scratch. Holy moley, someone pull the fire alarm so we can get the hell out of here!! HELP!!!!!! Where do we even start? What’s the freakin’ recipe? Are grilled cheese sandwiches part of that menu?

We have good news and we have bad news people. The good news is that we’re here to break down some of the tips we gave Maggie in helping her start from scratch to decorate her place. The bad news… well, there’s no specific recipe to make this happen, but we’re pretty convinced we have some of the ingredients down.

I feel overwhelmed, where should I look for inspiration?

– Pinterest (Make a board or two with strictly inspiration pictures. And write under each photo what you love about it. The paint color, the pillow designs, the carpet — be specific! Then look back and see what trends or similarities you see between your collection of pins)

– Magazines

– Retail Store Decor (forget the clothes for now… focus on the decor inspiration). When you walk into a store like Banana Republic the decor has a very different feel than the decor in Vera Bradley or the decor in Guess, use these stores as inspiration for the colors, wood tones, or accents you love.

– Same for restaurants (the feeling of Potbelly’s is different than Maggiano’s, but both could provide you a “direction” or inspiration using color schemes, wood tones, art ideas, tile etc.)

– Family & Friends’ Homes

– Anywhere really! Even your fashion choices can translate to decor inspiration. Do you love quirky graphic tees like me? Maybe a quirky graphic pillow could provide room inspiration?

Okay, I feel like I have LOTS of inspiration, how do I narrow it down?Modern-Music-Mood-Board

-Okay, this is when we instructed Maggie to create a Polyvore. This website is ah-mazing and so easy to use (however you do need to make a name/password). We know nothing about Photoshop but were able to learn how to work this system in about ten minutes. We have made all of our mood boards using this simple program ever since then.

Maggie's Makeover

We instructed her to look back at her Pinterest pins and then take this inspiration to create her own mood board on Polyvore so that she could see (and we could see) the direction she wanted to go. This is actually harder than it sounds but definitely a great exercise to help tag your “look”. Not that this look is set in stone, it just helps while you’re shopping around. Don’t over-think it though, it’s just a mood board. Colors, fabrics, actual furniture or accessories — add them to the board, print that board out and carry it with you as you shop. Again, you’re not married to it, but this board will definitely keep you moving in the right direction.

What should I buy first?

– Large items first. (Large scale artwork to pull inspiration from or build a room around, couches, dressers, beds, rugs, etc)
This is just our opinion, but we would not suggest buying cheap staple items. We’re not saying that you have to overextend your budget (we don’t believe in that), we just think we should put your budget toward a few staple products that will last. (ie. couch, dresser, etc).

Where should I shop?

– Your price point will most likely determine where you should start shopping. Here’s where we helped Maggie shop….
– We bought staple furniture items at Wayfair, HomeGoods, West Elm, Crate and Barrel, World Market and even IKEA.
– We bought accessories at those places as well as Target, Goodwill, JoAnn Fabrics, Michael’s, and really anywhere we found something inspirational. No place was off limits as long as it wasn’t too expensive.

Is it weird to shop online for decor, since I can’t see it first?

– No, but we do understand the hesitation. We bought everything for Maggie’s apartment at Wayfair, an online retailer where we couldn’t physically touch, feel, sit-on, color compare, etc. We found that reading and re-reading the dimensions of the furniture and reading the customer reviews was extremely valuable. We would also encourage you to review the online store’s return policy so that if you aren’t happy, you have the option to return. Here are more tips to shop online

I still can’t figure this out, any advice?!

First and foremost, don’t over think it! We too still feel like we are finding our own style and still second guess some of our design decisions. Heck, there are even times we look around our homes and think, “can we just start over? This is so not my style anymore”. It’s part of the process, which brings us to our second piece of advice.

Enjoy the journey, because yes it is just that– a journey. Shopping around, hunting for the perfect side table, dreaming up plans for your space… it’s all part of the journey and all part of writing your story. Embrace it. Have fun with it. Do NOT rush the journey.

And last but very not least, be confident! There’s no right or wrong. Whatever you LOVE is fair game, and what you love is exactly what you should bring into your space. Your decor should reflect your unique story, so do what is best for YOU and you will love the look. And in the end, if you’re in love with your home sweet home… that’s all that really matters. xo



The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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