Interior Decorating – DIY Beginner Basics

1Decorating a space is a personal and sometimes painstaking endeavor. For the novice who decides to plunge ahead with a DIY project, there are many cable television shows that cater to every area of decorating and design that can offer helpful and insightful tips. But, what about the neophyte who wants to attempt decorating a space in their home for the very first time and require more guidance than an HGTV cable show can offer? For them, decorating can be a daring and daunting undertaking. Often, the most intimidating part of decorating for a beginner is choosing a paint color. Just imagine how overwhelming it must be to venture into a paint store and see hundreds of colors available (with the most creative names, I might add). Sure, the pros make decorating look easy; and to a pro it is. But for the amateur who desires a personal blueprint of sorts to get them started, there are basic tips that can be followed to point them in the right direction. Following is a brief overview of basic key areas to consider when attempting a DIY interior decorating project for the first time.

Determine the style for the space:
Resist the urge to jump right in. Begin by asking yourself a few questions about the space.


  • What will I do in the space?
  • How do I want to feel in the space?
  • Who else will use the space on a regular basis?


If necessary, ask other members of the family the same questions. The answers to these queries will help to decide if the space is to be decorated formally or casually, for instance. Of course, there are other styles to be considered. The style chosen will determine many of the subsequent decisions such as the type of furniture placed in the room, the fabric chosen, as well as the type of window treatment that is installed, to name a few.

For example, the casual style typically has simple details, textured elements and lots of horizontal lines. The furniture tends to be large in scale and upholstered or slip covered. Whereas the formal style is inspired by period homes with elaborate architectural features and special attention is placed on symmetry and lines.

Choose the colors for your space :
As previously stated, this can be a great source of angst for the DIY decorator. Color has the ability to evoke emotional responses in people so consider the style and mood of the room and choose the color accordingly. For instance, red is a stimulating color well suited for family rooms. Green, on the other hand, is a calming color that would be a good choice for a space dedicated to relaxing. Because there are countless colors to choose from it is helpful to utilize what professional decorators call the rule of three. That is, use only three colors, excluding neutrals, in their various values, intensities, and textures to avoid a space that is overwhelming with too many colors that may or may not be complimentary.

Generally, the stronger or primary color is used for the accessories or perhaps an accent wall. Once a few colors are identified, preview them on small, inconspicuous parts of a wall so it can be observed in all types of lighting. Lighting will change how the color appears. Also, remember that paint always dries darker and seems more intense when an entire wall is painted as opposed to a small test area.

Pay attention to the paint finish. The shinier the finish, the easier it will be to clean. These high gloss finishes are perfect for high traffic areas like baths and kitchens. Good sources of inspiration for a color scheme are an area rug, fabric, or art piece to be used in the space. Select three colors from your inspiration piece and use them in the space.

Choose fabrics carefully:
The style you choose to decorate in and the purpose of the space will strongly dictate the kind of fabrics you choose. For instance, if you are decorating a family room that has a southern exposure in the casual style, fabrics that do not stand up to constant use (perhaps by children and pets) would not be a good choice. Additionally, a space that receives a great deal of sunlight would make using silks and other delicate fabrics prone to fade not cost effective options.

Be budget minded:
No matter which style you choose, always shop within your means. If you have to choose between an expensive piece of art and an economical sofa for the living room, purchase a really good sofa first. The sofa will need to withstand years of use. It would be wise to invest the larger part of your budget on a soundly constructed sofa that will end up saving you money in the long run. It is far easier to obtain budget friendly accent pieces that are aesthetically pleasing to balance out your décor. In time, those accent pieces can be replaced with more expensive ones, if necessary.

Choosing wall art:
Be creative when it comes to adorning your walls. Think outside of the box and consider a wrought iron sculptured piece or a wall vase with quality faux flowers cascading down. If you are putting together a gallery of photos, use the same color or metal finish frames as not to detract from the subject matter. Remember to measure twice to avoid turning your newly painted walls into Swiss cheese. Whatever you hang, the center of it should be between 62 – 65 inches from the floor.

There are a myriad of other factors to consider during the decorating process, such as implementing the elements of design, balance, harmony. The finished product should be both stylish and functional. Many of my fellow decorators enjoy consulting on DIY projects. I also enjoy assisting someone in the creating of their space. The bond that is established with a DIY client is as strong as when I take on a project on my own with little to no input from the client. It is rewarding to see the look of satisfaction on the face of someone who has embarked upon a DIY project and emerged on the other side with a space they can be proud to have decorated themselves. While it may be less stressful to hire a professional interior decorator, it is can be very gratifying to do it yourself. For those who feel up to the challenge, these basic guidelines will help immensely.

©Rena Bullard 2009
This article may be reprinted, in its entirety, with copyright information.

Rena Bullard is a Certified Interior Decorator and a professional member in good standing with Certified Interior Decorators International and The Society of Decorating Professionals. Although she is naturally gifted to be an interior decorator & home stager, she prides herself on staying abreast of the most current decorating and design information available to industry professionals.

Rena is qualified and trained to assist with space planning, artwork and accessory selection, color consultation, identifying furniture styles and periods, effectively using the elements and principles of design, and so much more. Rena has the reputation of getting the job done and done right.

Rena works collaboratively with her clients to ensure that when she is done the end result is the space desired.

Rena hosts a blog talk radio show on interior decorating and home staging topics and interviews industry professionals. Rena can be contacted via her website: []

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