Once you have planned your decorating project with a specific focus and set a budget, you'll want to begin the actual design process -- finding inspiration and ideas for your room. Here you will select your color scheme and theme -- as well as work out the basics of your space.

♦ Finding Your Inspiration

If you don't already have a color scheme or theme in mind, it's time to find your inspiration. Design centers, furniture stores, magazines and internet home decor sites can be fantastic resources to help you pick a theme or a color scheme.

If you find a picture of a living room you like -- let it be your inspiration and starting point. Or maybe you found a fabulous piece of art that has a theme and color palette you love -- you can use that as the center of your design, too.

With a stated purpose, a collection of ideas and a basic budget, you're ready to start. Continuing with the example from my article entitled, How to Plan Your Next Home Decor Project, this article will use an example for working a living room project.

♦ Working Out the Basics

Working out the basics means deciding what you need and how to get. Decide on the basic elements required and draw a couple of quick sketches of how the room could look for furniture placement. You can also find room planning software for this purpose. Don't over think the plan -- just try to get some ideas together. Your goal is to fulfill the purpose of the room within your budget in a look you will enjoy.

If possible, clear the room. A blank slate allows you to move away from your current design. Use what you have available and build from there. In this example, we'll begin with a great geometric area rug found at a garage sale for $50, an existing neutral tan color sofa and the family TV. Around the rug, we'll place seating, tables and the TV.

Area Rug (31937)

The area rug is the inspiration for the room -- it has a geometric pattern in brown, red and tan. Picking a multi-color piece like an area rug or piece of artwork is a fantastic "center" to the room and if you pick all of the colors for everything else from that piece, you're guaranteed to have a coordinated color palette. And, in this example, since the pattern of the area rug is geometric, it sets a contemporary or geometric design theme.

Let's further define the project plan -- moving the $150 saved on the area rug to the furniture budget.

The Living Room Project -- Total Budget: $1,000
Purpose: Create a living room for family/friends to socialize and watch TV
Color Palette: Brown, red and tan
Theme: Contemporary or geometric design

Basic Elements
$50 Wall Coverings; Plan: Paint
$50 Flooring; Plan: Brown, tan and red geometric area rug
$550 Furniture; Plan: Seating for 6 people (existing tan sofa 3; additional seating 3), 2side tables, coffee table, TV table
$150 Lighting; Plan: Ceiling fixture, 2 table lamps
$200 Accessories; Plan: To be purchased after furniture placement

♦ What's Next?

Using a budget plan as guidance for your project will help you to not sabotage your own efforts. In this example, it's easy to see that with a $1,000 budget, buying an $850 floor covering would leave you without funds to complete your room. Try to work within your budget – moving allotted amounts from one category to another as you go along. Remember, if you find a perfect area rug for $50 at a garage sale, you can move $150 to your furniture allowance, etc.

Now it's all laid out for you. You've got a budget, a plan, a theme, a color scheme and a list of everything you need with target prices for each purchase category. It's time for the fun part -- it's time to start shopping. It's usually best to purchase your larger items (like furniture) first and accessories last. You're ready to go on to the next phase of your project.

♦ ♦ ♦

This article is part of my Home Décor series. To read them in the order of a typical home décor project start with How to Plan Your Next Home Décor Project and progress through Finding Inspiration and Ideas for Your Home Decorating Project, Furniture for Sale – How to Find the Perfect Pieces for Your Room, Lighting for Sale – How to Find the Perfect Pieces for Your Room, Shopping for Low Cost Accessories and Selecting the Right Artwork for Your Room.

You'll get a wealth of ideas on how to put it all together and be well on your way to successfully completing your project.

Check back for my coming mini-series with quick decorating tips and projects you can work over a weekend.