Prepping your home for a design overhaul can be just as gruelling as the redecorating process itself. Before going too crazy with that IKEA catalog, follow these eight simple steps to get your home ready for a new look:

1. Establish a budget

Budget Photo: GotCredit/Flickr

Catherine-Lucie Horber, principal designer at Toronto-based firm Royal Interior Design, said that the first and most important step to take before redecorating is to figure out a realistic budget. That way, you can allot a certain amount of money for each purchase and avoid going overboard on something you can’t afford.

“The first thing to do is establish a budget. Without knowing how much you have to work with, it’s really hard to establish a plan. You don’t need to win the lottery to redecorate, you just need to plan your space efficiently and effectively and spend your money wisely,” she said.

2. Gather inspiration

Inspiration Photo: Ray Smith/Flickr

Once you know your price range, it’s safe to look through some blogs and magazines without being tempted to splurge. Lara Cupido, project designer at Toronto-based firm Lux Design, suggested starting small with some non-committal browsing to find out what you like and dislike.

“Walking around and doing a little window shopping and seeing what’s out there can be super helpful. Or you could check out a design magazine or even some blogs like Design Sponge just to try to get your ideas flowing,” she suggested.

3. Build a concept

Board Photo: Geneva Vanderzeil

Next, gather a more structured collection of ideas, themes, colors and textures. Cupido said choosing three or four key words or images as a basic plan usually does the trick.

“With my clients I always pull together about four images and four words that I always go back to during the process, so if I find a piece that I love so much but it doesn’t relate to the four words, it’s not going to work. I always make sure that the concept is running through the whole room,” she said.

4. Find a focal point

Focal Photo: Heritage Hotels and Resorts/Flickr

From there, you can narrow your focus even more by selecting one piece or object to anchor your design concept. Both Horber and Cupido agreed that this step helps to develop a clean, cohesive look for any space.

“Find a piece of artwork or drapery and base everything else off that one piece. It could even be jewelry or a scarf, anything with a pattern or color you like,” Horber said.

5. Measure your space


Aside from your budget, the measurements of your space are the most important numbers to know before you set out to buy furniture. Cupido said many homeowners make the mistake of shopping at stores geared towards condo-owners and vice versa.

“You always have to measure, that’s huge, huge, huge. Taking into consideration the proportions in a room and scale is super important,” she advised.

6. Toss or refurbish old items

Old Photo: Sandra Cohen-Rose and Colin Rose/Flickr

From there, look within your home before heading to the shops. Going through old items can be surprisingly freeing, and you never know what hidden gems you’ll uncover in your basement or storage locker.

“Go through everything you currently have and see if it’s a yea or a nay, just so you can kind of understand where you’re going. If there are pieces you don’t want, start getting rid of them or selling them so you can have a fresh slate,” Cupido said.

Horber also suggested giving old pieces a makeover if they’re tired but still usable. For example, an old couch can easily be reupholstered for a fresh, new look.

7. Resist the urge to clean (too much)


While it may seem counter-intuitive, doing a big clean-up before you redecorate will only hinder the process in the long run.

“In terms of cleaning, I would hold off on that only until you’re finished painting or wallpapering because that can get pretty messy,” Cupido said.

Instead, she suggested doing two major cleanups: one when the room is 80 per cent finished and one when everything is completely done. That way, it’s easier to see what needs some last-minute tweaks and what’s looking good to go.

8. Track down a designer


Finally, once all these steps are complete, it’s time to begin searching for a designer (or start designing on your own if you’re feeling independent!). Cupido had a few suggestions for finding a designer who understands your taste and vision.

“A lot of our clients are friends of people who have already come to see us and are really happy with what we’ve done. A good thing to do is walk into a lobby or a restaurant or a friend’s house and ask who designed it. That’s something I always do because you never know where it will lead,” she said.

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