Inside Design: The importance of a plan

Inside Design: The importance of a plan

By Stacey Wiedower

Friday, August 16, 2013

Are you getting set to tackle a big project in your house? Redecorate a room,renovate a kitchen, add some built-in shelves? Here’s my No. 1 piece of advice: before you start, plan.

I know, I know, that seems like common sense. But you might be surprised to know how many people jump headfirst into the excitement of building a new space without taking time to lay the foundation — and doing it that way almost always leads to unnecessary spending and disappointing results.

So ask yourself, what type of planner are you?

Maybe you’re a list-maker. Maybe you jot ideas on Post-it Notes. Maybe you collect magazine photos, bookmark Web pages or create boards on Pinterest. Maybe, like me, you measure a space, draw it to scale and sketch your ideas out on paper. Or maybe you hire somebody to do the planning for you.

Any of these methods can be useful. The important thing is picking a method and, well, using it.


Say, for example, you move into a house with a kitchen that’s a little dated. The countertops are in the worst shape, so you replace them first. Down the road, you really wish you’d replaced the cabinets, but you’re stuck with them because you installed new countertops.

“Oh well,” you think, “I’ll just replace the old flooring to spruce things up.” Out comes the vinyl, in goes ceramic tile. A few months later, the dishwasher dies. You head to the home improvement store to replace it, get the new one home and realize you’ve “tiled in” the old appliance. To remove it, you have to rip out a section of your new floor.

This piecemeal, “money-saving” approach just wound up costing more than you bargained for — and probably bought you some stress along the way.

Not all projects have such dire potential outcomes, but even on a small scale, buying without proper planning can have unexpected consequences. I know somebody who measured a room for a new sofa, bought it and had it delivered — only to realize it wouldn’t fit through the door.

Whether you’re updating your whole house, one room or a single piece of furniture, think through all the ways that change might impact the spaces around it. In my last column I talked about the domino effect of decorating, how changing one thing in a room kicks off a chain reaction that leads to more changes.

If swapping out your sofa means you’ll want to or need to replace the rug, lamps, artwork or chairs that surround it, think about whether you’re ready to make that kind of investment — and whether you’ll be happy with the results if you don’t.

“Redesign and decorating should be fun,” said Michael Taylor, interior designer and owner of Michael Taylor Interiors. “If it’s not, you’re going about it in the wrong way.” Here are Taylor’s tried-and-true tips for planning a great space:

Have at least some idea of where you want to go. You may not know what you like, but you can find it to some extent in what you already have. If you’re all over the map, you can get very overwhelmed.

Make a list. Never go out empty-handed when trying to buy for your new space. Always carry room measurements and what you’re searching for, including color, size, quantity.

Stay focused. Focusing on what you want to achieve helps you stay on budget and keeps you from making costly mistakes.

Hire a designer, who can help you attain your vision.

Stacey Wiedower is a Memphis-based freelance interior design writer. Contact her

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *