How To (Not) Fail At Designing your Room


How To (Not) Fail At Designing your Room

There are SOOOO many messages out there on designing your room. The magazine racks are full at the grocery checkout aisle,-  your cable TV has loads of reality shows for you to watch, and – YIKES! – you can barely scroll your Facebook feed without an Elle Decor post popping up, telling you designing your room is easy peasy.

You know the ones – they have titles like, “Decorate Your House This Weekend for $100” and to be perfectly honest, they’re usually full of totally obvious or outdated ideas (“25 Cheap DIY Ideas to Make Your Living Room Look Expensive” Uh, hello, that coffee table made out of a pallet does not look expensive) or useless fluff (“Amazing IKEA Hack You’ve Got to Have.” OMG, so that’s what I’ve been doing wrong all this time?!?!?)

Well, this message is different. Instead of telling you “how to be a HGTV celebrity rockstar/design guru/ decorating diva, when designing your room, I am going to give you seven easy steps to follow if you’d like to FAIL MISERABLY.

Here we go!


Fail #1 – DON’T measure your room

When designing your room, this is the biggest mistake design rookies make – not knowing what will fit in your room. Go ahead and go shopping without knowing the measurements of your room. You can squeeze in that sofa that is 6 inches too long for your wall. You won’t be the first one to make this costly mistake. If this is making you scratch your head and say, “Well, I was GONNA dig out my measuring tape from the kitchen junk draw, but I got distracted and decided to put all the toothpicks back in the box they fell out of,” then CONGRATULATIONS – you are already failing at designing your room.

What, you don’t like hearing this? WELL THEN – you know what you’ve got to do. Find your measuring tape and pencil and started measuring your room. Not sure how to do this? No worries, next week I’ll have a full blog post on exactly this topic.

It’s easier to set up than you think – block out an hour and GET STARTED.


Fail #2 – DON’T sketch out a plan

You don’t need a plan! Nah – just pick up one of those magazines the next time you grab a gallon of milk, and copy it. Right? That will be easy. Or better yet – that IKEA catalog that came in the mail last week – yeah, that will do it, just emulate those pages and you’ve got it made.

It really doesn’t matter if there is adequate seating or enough light. And proper flow or functionality, all that stuff will come naturally, because the last time you did your own design it was perfect (well, maybe the fact you couldn’t get to the kitchen from the living room was no big deal) What is the sense of thinking how you actually intend to use your room?

If you’re trying NOT to fail, and you’re really sure that step 2 isn’t for you, take the time to think about how you’re going to use the room. Do you entertain a lot? Is optimal TV viewing important to you? Long lingering conversations with a bottle (or two) of wine your idea of the best date night ever? Then you want to make sure that all the pieces and parts fits together to function the way you want to live.

Believe it or not there are actually tried and true formulaic lay-outs to make planning your room straight forward and no fail. In my upcoming blog series “Unleash Your Inner Designer – The Secrets to Designing Like a Pro” Part I will give you four optimal plans you can choose from. It’s gonna takes a little math, but it’s well worth it.


Fail #3 – DON’T figure out your design style

A big helping of Pottery Barn Basic Slipcovered Sofa, a side of Restoration Hardware Deconstructed chairs, a second course of Ashley Furniture’s Veldstra coffee table and oh so pedestrian looking shutters on your windows and you’ve got a pot luck dinner straight from the church social, that LOOKS LIKE EVERY OTHER HOUSE IN YOUR CUL DE SAC.

Are you thinking, “Holy Jeezwow – I don’t want a mashed potatoes room!”

Well, you’re not going to like this answer – it involves work. Yes, the dreaded W word.

You cannot just bounce from one mass produced store to another and get a pull-together cohesive room. You have to create a strategic plan and this involves figuring out your distinct design style. Are you traditional? Transitional? Modern? You need to know before to stop off at Home Goods after soccer practice and get seduced by the cute french demilune table with gold leaf finish. It may look cute in the moment, but will it go with the acrylic Ghost Chairs you picked up at auction last month – no!

That’s ok – we’re trying to FAIL, so you can go online to the Pottery Barn website and let it all fall apart if you like. (Do not despair, I’ve got you covered in this department in my upcoming blog series)


Fail #4 – Pick every color in the crayon box

I know, I know, you just can’t settle on three colors. That is so boring. You want orange in the family room, red in the kitchen, and pink, oh pink is your favorite color, so let’s put some pink in the bathroom.

Man, oh, man – the quickest way to fail at designing your room and look like a rookie designer is not picking three main colors and sticking to it. So to make sure you fail, pick a different color scheme for EVERY SINGLE ROOM in your house and voila – mega fail.

So remember – if you want to fail, don’t and I mean for the love of paint, DON’T figure out your color palette. Please, oh please, pick as many different colors as you can.

Color theory is a BIG topic, in my March blog series, I’ve condensed the most basic of the theories you need to understand and explain three simple methods to get a color palette that will get your design in perfect harmony.

Fail #5 – NEVER consider the finishes

To be certain designing your room will be an epic failure, be sure you pick your finishes based only on what the popular crowd are doing. Yup, run down to Home Cheapo and buy the flooring, carpet, tile and appliances they are displaying most prominently. This guarantees you are in with the popular kids. There is no better way to bolster your street-cred as a self-taught designer than to pick finishes without considering the latest in technology, the best in functionality, or the most value for your dollar.

Remember ten years ago when dark, dark hardwood floors were all the rage? The poor DIY designer with three kids under ten, a golden retriever, and two cats, didn’t think about spilled food, dog hair and nails, or cat claws. I hope she invested in Swiffer, because she was cleaning that floor all damn day.

On a mission to fail? Go load up your SUV with $.99 travertine tiles!

Want something MORE than a total fail? You’re going to have to do some research. I’ll give you my favorite picks for finishes that will work perfectly for you and how your family lives. I’ve seen all the mistakes and I won’t let you make them.

How To Fail at Designing Your Room (1)

Fail #6 – DO nothing

Here’s the easiest way to fail. Your new house came with standard recessed can lights and a few hideous ceiling fans. The best way to fail is to do nothing more with lighting.

Well that was easy. Do nothing. Leave it exactly as it is.

But, if you want to shine like a star (you know that interior design star you have in you), then you’ll have to bling it up with the lighting. Lighting is best in three layers. Using just the right percentages of ambient, task, and focal lighting is your stairway to celestial design stardom.

It may seem a bit daunting when you are standing with a crook in your neck from looking up at the fixtures at the lighting showroom, but I’ll tell you exactly what the layers mean and how to get precisely what you need when it comes to lighting.

Fail #7 – All save and no splurge

The most overlooked area when designing your room are the window coverings. And the best way to fail is go call those blind people (you seen their ads all over the newspaper and internet) and put up some fake horizontal wood blinds and then run to the red bulls-eye store and get some flimsy curtain panels. And oh, make sure you get the curtain rod that is a reed-thin slender stick with teeny finials on the end.

Yup, you’ve passed the ultimate test as a bonafide design failure – ignoring the most important element of the room – the window coverings. I mean, this IS the one area naturally at everyone’s eye level – maybe it should be treated like a last minute after thought and get the least allocation of designing dollars.

On the other hand, you could decide to give the windows the attention they deserve and do the one thing that will put your design over the top (and make the mean design divas green with envy). Decide right here and right now that your window coverings are going to get the attention and a big budget they deserve.

Done and done.

All right, my confident designing diva, that’s the seven BEST ways to fail when designing your next room. What happens now is totally up to you – you can choose one or choose them all!

As your next design project looms in the air and you take misstep after misstep, keep this stuff in mind. Fire Sale failure? Or Uniquely Your Own Allstar? YOU DECIDE*.

Until next week!

P.S. if you haven’t liked my Facebook Page, go HERE to do so right away. You don’t want to miss the blog series that will change your life when it comes to designing your room!

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