Time Frame for a Decorating Project

How much time do you need to put together a new decorating project? It depends upon many factors. In a “perfect world” this is what you might plan for…
Three Months (13 week) Time Frame
Weeks One – Three

  • Give yourself 3 weeks to actively dream your project and collect samples
  • Be on alert wherever you go, looking at your surroundings and taking pictures of styles that you like.
  • If you can download your pictures daily or every other day, you will find that they give you inspiration about what to do next.
  • Start building your Project Book
  • Take a “Before” photo
  • Dream BIG! Gather more than you need because you might change your mind once it all starts to come together

Week Four

  • Organize your shopping by visiting the store on-line.
  • Make note of items you want to “test drive” and go try them out
  • Start pre-shopping – with each item you find and want to purchase make a note of all the purchasing details so you can come back and purchase it easily.
  • Except for with small accessories, I don’t recommend you engage in any spontaneous shopping.
  • Take pictures instead and do “virtual shopping.” It is much easier to “return” items that have been virtually purchased than actually purchased. You will be living with your decisions for a long time, so give yourself all the time and space you need to make the best choices you can.
  • Once you have checked out all the furnishings you are considering for your room I recommend that you take a day or two away from your project.

Week Five – Make Your Purchases

  • Revisit your project notes and return to the stores and begin placing your orders.
  • Make note of the estimated deliver date. Ask the sales rep to call you when the order has “gone through” and no issues have surfaced like out of stock colors etc.
  • Create a new Vision Board for your room including all the items you have purchased, Use real color samples if you can. Waiting 6-8 weeks is difficult and you want to keep the memory alive so you won’t be confused when the items come in.

Week 11- 14 Delivery Day(s)

  • With each item delivered, match the color with your sample to be sure you got what you ordered.
  • If possible have your walls painted first, then install flooring, then furniture and accessories
  • When complete take your “After” Photo and add this to your Project Book

I hope your project times out perfectly! 🙂

’till next time,
Your Personal Space Coach©

Don’t Be A Holiday Decorator!

If it is at all possible, try not to be a “holiday decorator.” Most specifically the winter holidays of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years. The other holidays such as Presidents Day, July 4th can be excellent times to decorate because the stores have great sales. But everyone and their aunt wants new decor for THE holidays and oh boy does this create some major upset for both the homeowner and the furnishing industry.

Backorders, delays, and mix ups are all part of a normal decorating project. You can plan your way around many of them but you just can’t avoid the inevitable. Truck strikes, embargos and a million other things occur in the 6-8 weeks you are waiting for an item to come in. When I worked for JC Penny as a custom decorator they estimated that for each individual order at least 19 different people from start to finish had been involved. That’s a lot of room for human error to occur!

Since many people want to redecorate before the winter holidays arrive, you will do yourself a big favor if you schedule your project before or after this “season.” Stores can get back-logged as early as Halloween. Also beware of Easter which changes dates each year. If you can arrange your project during the summer you will have less time delays and glitches to deal with.

How To Time Your Project

For fast decorating, select the items already in the store or are in stock. If it is a showroom with a stocked warehouse ask what their delivery time is and make sure the item is in stock when you make your purchase. Have your sales rep call the warehouse while you wait and put a “hold” with your name on the item. Do this especially if you are shopping when there is a big sale going on!

If you are ordering any custom items for your decorating project you will have to wait about 8 weeks from the time you place your order before the items are installed. So if you need this project finished by a certain time like a holiday, or before the weather changes, then start at least 10 weeks ahead of this date. Remember the word “estimate” and stay flexible. Your sales rep is trying to give you the best estimate for delivery and installation. If they give you a range, tell yourself the longest time is the due date, and then if it comes in early you can be happily surprised.

Think about this; if just one custom window covering order has a minimum of 19 people handling the order, then how many people are involved for your total project of say 6-20 items? Be patient and use your Project Book to help you hold the vision of your finished end result. You will have greater success if you allow yourself more time to enjoy the process and get into the feeling of what you are creating. Remember, you live in this space and most likely won’t be redecorating it again for a few years. So give yourself time to choose wisely.

Happy Decorating!

’till next time,
Your Personal Space Coach©




Decorating Project Checklist

What kinds of furnishings do you need to consider and include in your personal Project Book? Well it depends upon your decorating project and what appeals to you. Here is a check list to use as a guide to be sure you don’t leave anything out of your master plan.

Name of Room   ___________________________________
For each room use this checklist to be sure you considered all items you want in your room:

Seating in the room

  • Sofa, couch, sectional
  • Upholstered chairs
  • Ottomans
  • Wood chairs (rocking)
  • Floor pillows
  • other

Window Coverings

  • Shutters
  • Horizontal or vertical blinds
  • Fabric shades
  • Drapery
  • Other

Floor Covering

  • Carpet or area rugs
  • Wood flooring
  • Vinyl flooring
  • Ceramic tile
  • other


  • Table lighting
  • wall lighting
  • ceiling track lighting
  • floor lamps
  • other


  • Coffee table
  • End tables
  • Desk
  • other
  • Shelving or Wall Unit (list what they will store- TV, stereo, library books etc)


  • Candles
  • Silk flowers
  • Plants
  • Knick knacks
  • Throw blankets
  • Pillows
  • other


  • Paint Colors
  • Wallpaper
  • Wood Molding
  • What wall art will you use in this room?
  • If your sofa and chairs have a print design make sure your wall art won’t clash with the design.
  • Try iron molding instead of paintings
  • Candle arrangements
  • Photos in black and white
  • Wood molding designs
  • Shelves with sea shell arrangements

If you can’t find or make a photo of an item you intend to purchase, make a note about it with a sketch if you want and add this page to your book

Make a note on this checklist of what you already own and intend to use in this room. Take photos of these items to add to your Project Book and list the dimensions; length, width, height and any other important details such as if it rocks or reclines and what is the amount of the space it needs to move.

You can see why it is important to put your whole room together on paper first. This way you can be certain that you remembered all necessary items and that all parts work in harmony with each other and if you find a mistake, it is so much easier to make the correction in the book than it is to do once it is in the room. There is nothing worse than carting home a large painting only to find it clashes with the rest of the room.

I hope you are finding the Project Book fun and helpful to you and your decorating project. Let me know how you are doing.

’till next time,
Your Personal Space Coach©


Putting The Project Book Together

Once you purchase all the office supply items for your Project Book (see How to Organize a Decorating Project post) it’s time to set it up for easy use.

The 3-Ring Binder

  1. The 3-Ring Binder will be kept in your home and is used to help you keep your project, ideas and thoughts organized. It will also assist you in making your final selections.
  2. Start by sorting the samples you have collected by category
    1. Walls: color-design ideas
    2. Furniture ideas
    3. Flooring ideas
    4. Over all style/room feeling ideas
    5. Other (lighting, accessories)
  3. Label your divider tabs with the category titles you are using and insert them into the 3-ring binder. Add a plastic pocket page to each divided section.
  4. Add your collection of ideas and samples to the book under the correct category (the idea is to mount all your samples for easy viewing and page turning)
    1. 3-hole punch your photo samples
    2. Mount your paint chips on paper and 3-hole punch the page
    3. For fabric and carpet samples choose either to glue them to paper with 3-hole punches or else insert them into the plastic pocket pages in the appropriate room area.
  5. Print a full 8 ½ x 11 page copy of your favorite room-poster idea photo and add this to the binder front pocket.
  6. Label the side of your binder with the name of the room you are decorating

The Portable File FolderMisc 017

Once you begin purchasing the various items for your room (carpet, wallpaper, upholstery) you will want to keep large samples of these items in this folder. You can order them upon purchase and ask for any extra remnant pieces.

I also use this file folder to organize my entire home.  I label the divided sections with the name of each room. Remember to include “halls” and “garage” for you will be purchasing items for these over time. This makes a handy storage spot for appliance warrantees as well. This folder is easy to carry in your car and when you need to match colors just grab the large samples with you as you go into the showroom.

The Mini-Notebook 5×7 with pockets and elastic strap

This book is to keep a record of what you purchase along the way. Use it to store all the important details of your purchases.

  •  Date of purchase – delivery due date – sales person contact information – Store location/phone number – Name of item and its store inventory number
  •  Mini photos and Mini sample colors

This mini-book allows you to easily carry samples of all that you have actually chosen for your room/home and enables you to pick up additional accessories without wondering if “that blue candle is the right shade.”  You will have the matching color with you at all times. Keep it in your glove compartment if you wish until you need to use it.

Now that you have your systems in place you will find your decorating project flows smoothly. Enjoy!

‘till next time,
Your Personal Space Coach©


How To Organize a Decorating Project

It can be a tricky business organizing all the details involved in a decorating project. I have a practice that I use for my personal projects which is similar to what I did for my design clients – just on a smaller scale. As an interior designer I would create large presentation boards full of renderings, floor plans and colors. They were perfect for presenting the design plan to a group of people but not practical for the Do-It-Yourself home decorator. This personal Project Book will help you stay sane while handling all the details involved in creating your decorating project.

The Project Book is actually step three of the Personal Scavenger Hunt you have already begun. For those who already basically know what they want, the Project Book will be their first step. While you are out doing your “virtual shopping” and narrowing your selections for your new room stop by the office supply store and get these items.

There are three parts to the  Project Book:

  1. A White 2″ three-ring binder (with a clear pocket on the front and back cover) 3 Part Project Book
  2. A portable file folder – accordion type with a handle works best
  3. A mini-notebook 5×7 with pockets and elastic strap

Additional Items You Will Need

  • Camera
  • 3-hole punch
  • Heavy duty 8 1/5 x 11 paper
  • Elmer’s Glue
  • Glue Sticks
  • 3-hole divider pages
  • 3-hole pocket pages (plastic are best)
  • Double stick tape
  • Scotch tape
  • Business card insert page
  • Large paper clips
  • Ink pen or magic market

I recommend that you start your Project Book as soon as possible.  Once your ideas start flowing you will need a place to collect all this data in a portable manner. The posters you made in “Personal Scavenger Hunt -Part Two” are great for determining the feeling you want for your room but you won’t want to carry that large of an item with you as you visit furniture stores.

Take a photo of your favorite idea board. If you have copies of what you posted on it gather them as well. Now that you have a better idea of what you want to create continue your on-line and in-person search for the “ideal items” and start adding these photos, samples and sketches to your Project Book.

Be sure to carry your “touchstone” item (or photo of it) with you as you shop.

For this phase of your project you can’t have too many samples of pictures, paint colors, fabric colors or carpet samples. As long as they appeal to you in the store add a sample to your collection. The Project Book will help you to organize all of this once your Scavenger Hunt-exploration phase is complete. Happy hunting!

‘till next time,
Your Personal Space Coach©

Decorating – Photo Tips

We all love “before and after” photos. They give us a much needed perspective on our progress whether it is our latest diet or our home decorating project.

I highly recommend at the start of your decorating project that you make a photo journal of your room(s). In fact as you develop your new style it helps to look at the photos versus looking at the room itself. This is because our photos give us distance from the energy of the room and improved perspective. Suddenly we can see things we missed when in the room itself.

How to Photograph A Room

  1. Open the room to natural light as well as turn on any interior lamps
  2. Stand in the entrance (if there is more than one, choose the one you use the most)
  3. Turn left, and while moving left-to-right take photos; making sure to connect the shots with some overlap of space so you don’t miss any details.Then finish with the wall to the right of the door you are standing in.
  4. Next stand in the room and take a photo of the entrance you were just standing in
  5. Take a photo of the ceiling and all features
  6. Take a photo of the floor

Upload your photos right away to your computer and begin labeling them with details so you will remember what they are for.
Make a file for them in your computer

The Photo Journal

  • Create a Word document that you label with the name of the room you are decorating (do this for each room)
  • Copy and Paste each photo in the document, re-sizing so one photo fits per page with room to write notes.
  • Once you have your Photo journal set up, begin to review each picture and type in any thoughts that come to mind.
  • List what you see in the room that you want to keep
  • List what you want to remove
  • List what new items you are looking for
  • You can then print up these pages and add them to your Project Book to help you organize all the details of this decorating project.

Now that this is done you not only have your project well organized from the start; you have the “before” photos done as well.

‘till next time,
Your Personal Space Coach©

Design Like a Pro

If you want to decorate like a pro you will need to organize your project.

Start by taking a big, deep breath and relaxing. This is a process, not a quick fix and every step is an adventure. There really are no hard and fast rules to follow, and perfection is a trap so toss it out the window. Repeat this phrase whenever the perfection craze pops up…”progress, not perfection is what matters.”

Also keep it fun! Learn to laugh at setbacks, shipment delays, discontinued colors or styles and especially laugh at other people’s good opinions. In design school we are taught the “proper order” of things, such as installing tile before carpet, but in the REAL WORLD you can’t always get it done in the “proper order” so let order be your guide but not your master. Stay flexible, keep an open mind and your inner creative genius will solve any challenges. Interior Design is such a fancy word for the making of a home, which is why I like the phrase “Personal Space” better. You are making a home for yourself and no one gets to judge you or your choices!

Besides a flexible open mind, a detailed action plan is your best friend. Having this will allow you to remain patient and focused on the ultimate goal. Even if you don’t think you are an organized soul, you do have inherent orderly traits. I’ll bet you get ready for work in an orderly fashion every day. I am willing to guess that you put your pants on before your shoes, put your shirt on before your jacket, and grind your coffee beans before you brew them. If you will take just a little time to stop and visualize in your mind the way you want your decorating project to look when you are finished, you will begin to see the order to follow as you begin taking action. Even though the actual steps won’t all happen the way you visualize them, this process will keep you clear-headed and more able to adapt as changes occur. Visualizing before you begin helps you understand the big picture. Handling the big picture is what a professional designer is paid to do but I can show you how it’s done and stay sane in the process.
In a “perfect world” this is how you want a remodel or complete room decoration to flow:

  1. Paint the ceiling and walls (or wallpaper) and install any details like crown molding
  2. Install new built-in cabinets or mirrors
  3. Install tile flooring
  4. Install wood flooring
  5. Install laminate flooring
  6. Install wall to wall carpeting

You can see from this list that we go from messiest to cleanest installations. Always protect was previously installed.
If you can’t do it in the “perfect order” then do it in the order that is “perfect” for YOU – and relax it will all work out in the end just fine, I promise.

’till next time,
Ginger- Marie
Your Personal Space Coach©

Time To Play “Goldilocks”

The next step of your decoration project will be to see how the items you have picture feel. This is just like trying on clothes. You see a style you like but you have to try it on to discover if it “looks good” on you and if it feels comfortable to wear. We need to do this same thing with furniture.

Playing Goldilocks
Remember the children’s story of The Three Bears? Well now it’s time to do what Goldilocks did in the story. You did your on-line and magazine research. You made a poster of what you might like (this is called a Design Board or Color Board.) You have your list of places to shop, now it’s time to go “test-drive” the furniture you think you’d like to own in your home.

  • Be sure to wear comfortable clothes
  • Give yourself plenty of time – at least a half day is best
  • Bring your Personal Space Journal, a pen, a steel tape measure and your camera
  • If you have a whole day planned be sure to take breaks – visit a Starbucks and journal how your test is going, treat yourself to a nice lunch, keep the whole process fun!
  • Sit in everything you are considering.
  • Notice how easy or difficult it is to get up and down
  • Notice if the piece fits your body or if you will need to add pillows for comfort
  • Run your hand over the surfaces and note the textures you like. Such as cool marble – warm wood – slick silk

Once you locate the pieces you find comfortable and love the look of; take pictures of them and write down all important details: Store, SKU number, style name, fabric name and price.
Get out your tape measure and measure in this order: length x width x height. It will help if you make little sketches using geometric shapes and naming the furniture areas
Length on a sofa is end-to-end
Width on a sofa is front-to-back
Height on a sofa is three parts

  1. Back: floor to back of sofa
  2. Arm: floor to Arm height
  3. Seat: Floor to Seat height

Once you are done playing Goldilocks for the day take a break and review your notes. Determine if you need another day of virtual shopping; if you do schedule it in your calendar.
Next, put your notes away for a day or two, then look them over again. By now you will most likely have your selections narrowed down and know the availability of items you want. Check to be sure they come in the color you want and double check  the price and ask about future sales. Once you have all the information you need your next step will be to make your final choice. In order to do this you will need to be sure everything you want will fit in the room. In a future post I will show you how to do a simple floor plan.

Let me know how your project is going.
’till next time,
Ginger – Marie
Your Personal Space Coach©

Personal Scavenger Hunt – Step Two

Now that you have located your good feeling “touchstone” the next step of Your Personal Scavenger Hunt can begin. Be sure to carry this “touchstone” with you if it is small enough and if not; keep a photo of it with you to keep you connected to the good vibrations it sends.

Step Two:
Begin Your “Hunt”

  • Go to a bookstore, a news stand or a discount book store. Locate the design magazine section and gather a pile to check out. Sit at a table and begin to browse through them. When you find items you like, jot down the magazine name and any other key information. Often in the back they will list where you can buy items they feature.
  • Purchase magazines that have what you like and maybe subscribe to a few as well. The point here is one of self-discovery where you give yourself time to discover what you love. This may take time, so be patient and enjoy yourself.
  • Visit the HGTV channel or website to see what they have to offer. Make note of any styles that you love. Write down the shows that have what you like and see if you can get purchasing information on their website.
  • Keep your decorating project in the back of your mind as you go through your daily life. You’ll be surprised how many different styles you will be exposed to on a daily basis. If you do remember a place where you felt really comfortable such as a restaurant or resort see if you can visit them and take photos of what you liked there. Ask the staff who their decorator was.
  • Begin “virtually shopping” on-line. Surf the websites of companies you wish to shop at. When you see something you like, bookmark that page. When you narrow it down to a list of 3 possibilities, go ahead and “print screen” or “cut and paste” and print up a copy. Be sure to list the important details in case you want to purchase later.

Test Your Ideas

Make posters of your selections and put them on the walls of the room you are decorating. Live with them for at least a week and then choose your favorite. If you have determined other factors such as color or carpeting, add these to your posters to get the feeling for the completed look your room will convey.

Now that you have chosen the look of what you would like to have in your room, and an idea of where you can purchase these items, you are ready for the next step; “Playing Goldilocks.”

’till next time,
Your Personal Space Coach©

Make “Friends” With Your Room

Instead of just moving stuff into a room because it “fits” I recommend that you first take a moment to “make friends” with the space you want to decorate.

Step One-Visualize:
Sit quietly in the room you are planning to decorate and ask yourself the questions below. As you review these questions write down your answers in your Personal Space Journal (see blog post for details.) While you answer these questions be sure to make note of any other questions that come to mind and jot them down. The clearer you are on what you want and why you want it, the easier it will be for you to find success.
• What purpose was this room designed for originally?
• How would I like to use this room?
o List the activities you will do in this room. (Such as watching TV, cooking, reading etc.)
• Do these activities require any specific furniture or floor plan design?
o Electronics may require special outlets, or art may need to be protected from sun or shelving is needed for books or a pool table needs extra space.
o Are there any special lighting challenges?
• Who will use this room the most?
o Get feedback on your design ideas from anyone who will be using the room but make the final choice yourself.
• What colors would I like to have in this room?
• What textures do I like? (Such as glass, crystal, wood, stone, brick or iron work.)
• What do I want for the flooring? (Carpet, wood, tile, vinyl)
• What do I want for the walls? (paint, molding, wallpaper)
• What is the style I want to have in this room?
• What do I already have for this room?
o List what is there
o List what is needed
• If this is a redecorating project make a list of “keep” – “release” – “need new”

Step Two: Rough Sketch of Your Vision

• Using your list from above create a rough sketch using simple circles, rectangles, and squares to position where you want your furniture to be.
• Label each item with a simple name – “new sofa” “green chair” etc
• Remember to consider room to walk around so leave space where needed in your sketch (I’ll teach you how to do a simple floor plan in future posts)

Now that you have a general idea of how you want to use the room and what items you need to purchase our next step will be to clarify your vision. Check out next Tuesdays Tips for doing a “Personal Scavenger Hunt.”

‘till next time,
Ginger- Marie
Your Personal Space Coach©