Tips for designing your home slowly, over time

If TV shows have convinced you that a magazine-ready home can be done in the blink of an eye, professional designers will quickly rid you of that idea. “There’s this fantasy of an HGTV style reveal, walking into a house that’s 100% made — either by you or by a decorator — but in reality, that only happens for very little,” says Colleen Simonds, a Pittsburgh-based designer.

And, really, who wants a space that looks like it was put together in one fell swoop, giving off a furniture showroom vibe? Simonds and other designers agree that thoughtfully conserving a space over time yields more satisfying results. So don’t treat the process like something you need to cross off your checklist. Resist the urge to have your house – or even a room – done. Instead, embrace the idea of ​​letting the space evolve gradually, which can save you from having regrets later.

Need help getting started? We spoke with several design professionals about how to take your time when decorating, including the main pitfalls to avoid. Experts have also wondered if impulse buying has ever do logic – and what to consider before bringing home this one-of-a-kind vintage find.

Make a plan. Developing a design strategy is an essential part of preparing your space for purchases you might make later, says Karen Rohr, interior designer at Mackenzie Collier Interiors, which operates in both Phoenix and Portland, Oregon. . the key to successful aesthetics in your interiors,” says Rohr. “If you’re doing things on your own, you have to take the project slowly and think about all the little things before you start buying, because you’re your own designer.”

That means keeping layout, color palettes and budget in mind, she says. “As your piece comes together piece by piece, it will begin to look like a reflection of who you are, making it the best intentionally designed piece.” Having trouble defining your style? Thinking about your interests and passions can provide valuable insight. Rohr asks customers about their favorite hobbies, travel experiences, musical artists and more to find inspiration.

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Designers agree that large pieces such as sofas, beds, chairs and rugs should take priority. “The centerpieces are often what carry a room because they are large and focal,” says Simonds, so let their fabrics and textures determine the direction of the rest of the room.

Ordering samples is useful for evaluating textiles and can even inspire the creation of a mood board, says Ashley Ross of Muse Noire in Charlotte. Making a spreadsheet with desired items and their prices — something you can reference when shopping — can also help you keep track of what you have and what you need.

Explore providers. When it comes to choosing furniture, designers recommend filling your home with pieces from multiple retailers, rather than just one or two places. “Matching sets are undesirable,” says Simonds. “Rooms need mixed elements to feel alive.”

For example, buy bedside tables from a different retailer than where you bought your headboard, she says, and buy accent chairs from a company other than the one that sold you your sofa. Also consider adding a tiered piece to each space. “Every room should have at least one vintage piece, reworked or not,” says Simonds.

Plus, exploring various vendors — rather than filling an online shopping cart and calling it a day — can be a financially sound approach. “Taking the time to save for quality purchases works when you have a plan and a vision for your home,” says Maggie Stephens., a designer from Bainbridge Island, Washington. “Better to invest in well-made pieces that you’ll have for decades than chipboard that breaks the next time you move.”

Carefully gather the accessories. Designers are also deliberate about acquiring accessories and other small items. New York designer Isabella Patrick collects many of her small pieces on her travels. “Pillows, frames, trays, candles, and small sculptures are so versatile, and the right assortment needs to be carefully curated over time,” she says. “I would say 90% of our artwork and accessories have a story behind them.”

Simonds agrees that hoarding special items is an ongoing process. “Most people aren’t born with instant collections,” she says. And it doesn’t have to be an expensive process. Try displaying framed children’s artwork, books and magazines, she says. “Instead of rushing to buy all the new things, think about what you already have that can bring personality to a space.”

Check your impulses. As much as designers believe in decorating a home over time, they understand that it can be tempting to make an impulse purchase, whether you’re browsing an estate sale or visiting a favorite thrift store. But stick to pieces that are “somewhat practical,” says Patrick. A set of chairs can be perfect for a living room or an office. Illustrations, on the other hand, are more delicate, especially if they are vibrant or large.

Before buying home items on a whim, Patrick says to visualize where the piece will fit in your space — the more possibilities, the better — and figure out why you like it. “If it’s unusual and it appealed to you, is it too strange? Or is it unique, a conversation starter and something that will bring you joy? »

Sarah Lyon is a freelance writer and stylist in New York. Find her on Instagram: @sarahlyon9.