In Inspiration, Room Makeovers

How I’m Planning My Downstairs Makeover: Part 2

Note: Before you get stuck into the below, check out Part 1 of how I plan a makeover to see the six vital questions I think everyone should ask themselves before they so much as think about picking up a paintbrush…

How To Plan Your Home Makeover

When we left off, we’d answered the Six Big Questions, we knew what was wrong with our space as it stands, how we want it to be, and what our budget and timelines look like – as well as what we’d change or sacrifice if we had to.

Now let’s do the fun bits!

It’s probably about time we ask what this place is going to look like, right? That is, after all, largely why we’re here.

Start by looking in the usual places for what you like: scroll through Pinterest, explore some hashtags on Instagram (some of my favourites are #houseenvy #interiormilk #apartmenttherapy #showmeyourboho #midcenturymodern#myhousebeautiful), flick through some magazines (Living Etc is my current favourite).

Whenever you see something you like – collate it in one place. I save images to a board in Milanote, but you could keep them on Pinterest, in an Instagram collection or a physical scrapbook.

Planning Layouts, Furniture and Configuration

This step is a bit laborious, so if you know for certain where you’re going to put furniture, skip it. But if not, it’s super useful.

Measure your room and draw it out on dotted paper, using roughly one dot for each 10cm (or 10 dots to a metre). This doesn’t have to be neat or beautiful, just accurate. Add in a guide for windows, doors and any other non-negotiables like fuse boxes or boilers. Include the furniture you know you’re keeping, and know where it’ll be placed (for sure).

Next, measure your existing furniture, draw it on a separate sheet and cut it out. Now you have a scale model that allows you to see where furniture would and wouldn’t fit, without having to move it.

Even better, when you’re browsing for new furniture, you can add models of that and see if it really fits in your space.

Remember: you don’t want to squeeze past furniture in your everyday life. Consider that dining chairs need to be pulled out and still navigated around. Think about what happens when you come through a door – do you have to take a hard turn to get round the end of a sofa? That’s awkward, try to give yourself another foot of space to move around.

Choosing A Colour Scheme or Palette

There are lots of different ways to do this – so many that I wrote a whole post on 10 different methods for settling on a colour scheme. Go and read that, then we’ll meet back here. I’ll have a KitKat Chunky while you’re gone.

Read it? Settled on a colour scheme you love, or at least a few possible options? Excellent.

Creating a Mood Board For a Room Makeover

Everyone loves a mood board, right? No, not really. If you aren’t inherently visual, don’t love crafts or aren’t proficient in design software, they can feel like a real pain.

At their worst, they’re a bit self-indulgent and unhelpful.

But I’m here to tell you that a moodboard for a room makeover can really, really help you. They can ensure that all the different ideas you have tie together successfully, which is a big confidence boost when you’re about to put paint to plaster, or drop hundreds of pounds on furniture.

So, how to make an easy moodboard? I really like Milanote – I actually use it for all sorts of creative tasks, but it’s particularly good for moodboarding. You can even directly input the hex codes of your chosen colours to automatically create a palette of swatches. It’s also free, obviously.

Create an account, hit ‘Templates’ in the left-hand navigation and scroll down to ‘Moodboard’. Drag the icon onto your workspace then double-click to enter it. Now you’ve got a template moodboard to work with (it’s for branding rather than decor, but the principles are the same).

A window will pop up asking if you want to work with the stock content, or clear it to add your own. Choose ‘clear’ to create a skeleton and start replacing with your own colours, screenshots and inspiration.

What should I add to my moodboard?

Anything you like! But that’s not a helpful answer, so here are some suggestions, and the moodboard I created for my dining room makeover…

  • In the middle, one or two central inspirational images of rooms that capture the style and feeling you want to convey
  • Your colour palette – if you haven’t matched them to particular paints yet, just add some swatches. If you have, use an image from the paint brand you’ve chosen and caption it with the name so you don’t forget!
  • Furniture – if you’re keeping your own furniture, take photos on your phone and add these in here as they’re just as important as anything new. If you’re buying some new pieces, add anything that’s caught your eye, even if it’s out of budget (you can trawl for a cheaper version a bit later!)
  • Textures – paint finishes, wooden floorboards, carpet, brickwork – any textures that are or will be prominent in your room should be on here
  • Fixtures and fittings – if you’re replacing your electrical fittings, what finish will they be? What about light fittings? Textiles, window dressing?
  • Finally, finishing touches – don’t start with these! If there’s a print or a cushion or a plant that you love, that’s fine. But don’t put it up there first!

Now you’ve got a completed moodboard. Take a step back and really look at it: does it work for you? Does something stick out like a sore thumb? Have you gone off that mirror in the process, realised that all your furniture is super angular with no soft lines to break it up? Does that paint colour actually look a lot cooler against your chosen dark wood, when you wanted a warm finish? Play around until it feels right – cohesive, beautiful and representative of what you’re trying to achieve.

Planning A Room Makeover

Phew! Still here? Great. Let’s take stock. So far we have:

  1. Answered our six key questions to establish where we are and where we want to go
  2. Decided on our timeline, our budget and where our room to manoeuvre is
  3. Figured out a vision – what we’re drawn to and how, broadly, we might like the space to look
  4. Worked out where to put our furniture to maximise movement, efficiency and mood
  5. Created a mood board that shows exactly the sort of tones, finishes and furniture we want to achieve

What could possibly be left??

Oh right, we need to…do the work. But where do we start?

Make a List of Jobs To Be Done

We’re going to borrow from design thinking for a minute.

Right now you have a list as long as your arm but nowhere near as neat, beautiful or linear (am assuming you have neat, beautiful and at the very least linear arms). In fact, it’s a bit of a swarming mass of tasks without a clear order, and we’re very much in danger of being overwhelmed by it.

Overwhelm is proven to make us less efficient, less effective and less confident. So let’s resist the overwhelm.

Instead, we’re going to make a list of everything we need to do, in absolutely no order whatsoever. You could do this on post-it notes (one task per note, please), in a speadsheet or – my favourite – back in trusty Milanote. Even a Word document would do – just don’t handwrite them on a single piece of paper because we need to move them around.

Right, what sort of things go on this list? Well, here’s mine:

That was surprisingly quick to write because a) it doesn’t have to be in order and b) it doesn’t really matter right now if I’ve missed anything. Just throw down as many thoughts as you can, in as much detail or granularity as you like.

How to Prioritise Home Makeover Tasks

To get going though, we do need an order. So, now that we’ve got all our tasks in front of us we’re going to look for some obvious relationships, or dependencies.

This means any two tasks that have to be done in a certain order. For example, I can’t lay carpet in the dining room (or refurbish floorboards, TBC!) until I’ve painted the ceiling and walls – that would be madness as I’d drip paint all over it.

So I re-order those tasks in another area of my workspace, my spreadsheet or my wall of post-it notes. What next? Well, I definitely can’t paint the walls until they’ve been plastered, which requires me to find my plasterer and book the work in. I move tasks around, adding a coloured tab once they’ve been joined up with other tasks.

Continue until most – or all – of your tasks are in an order. Congratulations, you’re so close! If there are any tasks that are hanging around because they can be done at any time, fit them in wherever feels most logical.

And that’s our process!

We’ve gone from uncertainty to a clear to-do list, via clarifying the purpose of our makeover, through defining a vision, testing it via mood boarding and finally card-sorting our list of jobs.

Now you’re ready to get going – simply pick off the first task on your list, and officially one step closer to realising your makeover dream!

And on that note, I’d better go and sand down some skirting boards…

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