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  • Writer's pictureClare @CDR Design

Oh, Where, Oh Where do I Begin a Design?

Kicking-off a design can seem mind-boggling. Follow below and I'll break it down into fun, easy and effective steps!

I want to start a design project, but how do I begin?

Whether you are a DIYer or working with a designer, projects should always begin with a healthy dose of ideas.

Jump-start by collecting inspiration photos. Oh yes, plan on your project being unique. But, let’s face it, all creative ideas are inspired by others. and are two of the more popular sites to collect inspiration photos. And yes, if you prefer to tear pages out of your favorite design magazine, that works also.

Don’t be afraid to collect as many photos/ideas as you want. Just be sure to note what you like about any given photo. Once you’ve collected a few, choose a couple of special photos that really speak to you.

Should I choose photos that look like they are more geared toward my budget?

Nope, you should be dreaming “big”. This does not mean you will be exceeding your budget……only that you will be looking for big ideas and quality spaces. Later, you can tailor lofty ideas to whatever your budget is.

The ability to think “big “ is the first step to break out of your bubble of self -imposed limits, channel your energies to explore stellar designs, and map out the path ahead to make it possible.

What is my partner and I have totally different ideas?

If you and your spouse have a totally opposite take on design, I recommend each of you launch an idea book. Commit to a defined time frame for each of you to collect photos. Then, on “reveal” day, trade idea books. You will be identifying anything at all you find appealing in your partner’s idea book and vice versa. Yes, you WILL find something that both of you like. Here, dark tones paired with florals create a seemingly divergent, yet stunning result.

How do I know how much to budget?

Once you’ve refined what your dream space will look like, you can start budgeting: you might choose the highest-end pieces, something on the lower end price-wise or smack in the middle. Your dream can shine at any price level.

Take a look at prices at vendors that you think fit your quality and style and budget. You can choose some sample items from that vendor to get an overall feel for what redesigning the room will cost. Since most people underestimate the cost of a space, I recommending adding 20% to whatever you calculate. For my clients, I offer a budget chart that breaks costs down to each item.

How do I know what type of design changes are right?

It depends on whether you are renovating or simply changing up your furniture and décor.

If you are implementing architectural changes, it is important to make choices that reflect and meld with the original style of the home. On the other hand, in choosing furnishings and décor, you can “go for it” and saturate your home with your own style, even if it contradicts the style of the home.

For example, with a renovation, ensure any changes work with the original design genre of the house. Example, in a traditional home, don’t transform a conventional square box fireplace into a modern, linear one. It's going to feel awkwardly out of place.

On the other hand, in choosing furnishings and decor, the style of the home and your design style can differ wildly. Example, modern furniture in a traditional home works. The disparate styles actually play well off each other.


To kick-off your successful design project, collect inspiration, dream big while choosing products you can afford, and finally, while décor and furnishings do not have to match the home’s style, ensure any renovations are in tune with the original design intent of your home.

…..and have a fun with the process!!

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