The ONE Thing you Need Before you Decorate, Renovate or Build


I see homeowners at every stage of work in their home.  Sometimes, they bring me in early in the house to home process. Sometimes, I’m brought in for a rescue mission. It doesn’t matter where in the process but it’s always the same issue. They don’t know where to begin, what to do now or how to get the desired end result.  Sound familiar? You are not alone.  How can you avoid that?  What is the ONE thing you need before you decorate, renovate or build. It’s pretty simple folks.


Use physcial samples of materials to create a design plan


The very first step before you embark on any design or decorating journey is creating a plan for your home. Whatever you do please create a plan before you decorate, paint, renovate, or build your home.

There are different types of plans depending upon what type of project you are working on. Most plans need to relate to each other. For example,  if you have construction drawings for a basement renovation, you would also want to have a floor plan(that you can read), furniture layout plan,  colour palette for all your finishes and furniture aka Design Plan. 

For the sake of today’s blog, we are going to discuss a Design plan. Or as us Interior Decorators call it, Design Concept. Design concepts can be done for whole homes or focused on specific rooms, even kitchens and baths.

This plan typically involves space planning,  floor plans, if applicable furniture layout, finishes and fixtures, overall colour palette . The plan can be shared digital and/or physically with samples of all finishes, fabrics and paint that will be in your space. For rooms like kitchens or for large renovations, many clients find 2D or 3D renderings helpful.

Without proper planning, costly mistakes happen.



The most common and costly mistake I see when I go into homes is related to COLOUR! 

Know this -everything in your home is related to colour!  Yes, yes you can buy the wrong size sofa and things can be out of scale. But time and time again I see issues related to colour.  Sometimes, homeowners inherited the colour mistakes and sometimes they are sitting in a whole pile of their own colour mess.

Let’s talk colour and how to avoid some big colour mistakes.


buy sample cans of paint to test before you paint your walls

An initial plan is a necessary evil folks. Without it you will find yourself in colour hell.  In a sea awash with a mix of clean & dirty colours and waves of clashing undertones What’s the best  way to avoid colour confusion?



Consider the furniture and finishes that will be staying in your home for a while and use a paint deck to help find the best paint match. Actually match a paint colour for reference to your furniture and finishes taht will remain in the space.

Use this for all your fixed materials like flooring as well as furniture and art.

Keep those paint chips with you whenever you go out. When you find something you think will work, check your samples. You’ll never have to guess about about whether they go together or not.

use paint samples and match them to your fixed materials to get the paint colour right.




 Are you just looking to freshen up a current room with paint? Great, that’s easy! Paint colour should ALWAYS be chosen last so if everything else is staying, all you have do is select your paint colour to compliment your current finishes

Don’t pick your paint colour for the sofa you are “going to get” in a few years or the new flooring that will happen in five years.  Before you decorate take a good look at your finances and change what you can. If you can’t then decorate for what you have now. Trust me- your tastes will change, and the paint colour won’t work with your “now”.



Are you embarking on a one room renovation with no plans to update any other space in your home? 

Then plan for that……. make sure your colour selections for the renovation tie in and complement your other spaces.  Avoid the jarring effect of colour mayhem as you walk from room to room.  Use colour to create cohesion between your newly renovated spaces and your other rooms. This requires planning.  

Did I mention that a plan is a good Idea?



New build/custom build- this one is VERY tricky. Most of the time I see this go too far in one direction or another.  Clients have either gone so neutral that they complain their house is beyond boring.  Or they try their hand at crazy colour, and it goes terribly wrong. 

It’s difficult to create flow in a home from room to room if you don’t have a plan.  When your design plan is in front of you it’s easy to see where the mistakes are. 


We recently custom built our own home in Tottenham, ON and let me tell you – I made a big mistake. I didn’t have a design plan with my colour palette completed before we embarked on all the decisions. Yes, it worked out but only because of my experience and knowledge.  Otherwise, this would have been a hot mess!  Truth be told, I was super busy with client work and thought I could fly by the seat of my pants.  It made it so tough and we were always behind the eight ball with the builder.  We caused delays and had to pay for change orders.


Have a colour plan complete before your renovation begins



My recent Interior Design clients from Nobleton, ON were renovating their kitchen and purchased backsplash tile on sale. (before bringing me on board) “Oh, it was a great price”  they proudly said of their new white tile.  How can you go wrong with white?  Weeeeelllllllll, they did NOT have a plan and it went wrong. White is complicated and we could not make the tile work with the countertop they wanted.

We created a design plan to achieve the look and feel they wanted.  The countertop they had their hearts set on, could not work with the sale tile.  The undertones of the tile did not suit their countertops.  It would always feel off and not create a cohesive sapce. At that point the client had a choice- build the design around the sale priced tile to make it work OR get the kitchen design they really wanted. 

These costly mistakes can be avoided but you need to have a plan before you set out on your colour/finish selection journey.

don't purchase materials for your renovation before you create a design plan

Have I convinced you that a plan is the one thing you need before you decorate, renovate or build?


Don’t know how to create a plan or feel overwhelmed? It’s worth bringing in a professional for a paint consultation or design consultation.  They can help you create a plan before you decorate and make sure all your colours all work together.  It’s better to avoid these mistakes than try to fix them later.


A beautiful living room is created by first having a great design plan.
Interior Design Colour Expert

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