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How-to Start a Room Makeover

Are you ready to makeover a room, but don’t know where to start? Here’s a simple guide how-to start a room makeover.

You’ve combed through Pinterest and Instagram, looked at your room, and thought it needs a makeover.

We are all home more now, so the need for redecorating rooms is at an all time high!

I’m here to help of course, with a simple guide on how-to start a room makeover and the specifics of what you need to consider. 


How NOT to Start a Room Makeover

To help you along this journey, I am going to share how you shouldn’t start a room makeover FIRST with a real life example of my own.

This will help you avoid mistakes along the way and also save you money in the long run!

Can I tell you one of my most popular room makeovers started on the wrong foot! 

Yes, I made the biggest decorating mistake of all! Not having a PLAN…

Pin It for Later!

Don’t start a room makeover this way:

  • Buying one piece of furniture to kick off the makeover.
  • Using a random paint color you love from Pinterest or Instagram.
  • Finding a good deal on drapes or rug and buying them hoping they will work.

I have made every single one of these mistakes!

Don’t be like me.

Dining Room Makeover

Believe it or not…this is the room that didn’t have a plan up front.

Want to know the decorating mistakes I made?

  1. Painted the room three times
  2. Swapped out the drapes twice
  3. Changed the rug twice
  4. Bought and returned artwork
  5. 2 sets of mirrors

Yes, it came out beautifully but that came a cost both financially and physically!

Some of this was because I was under the pressure of a 6 week long timeline and a design challenge weekly blog posting schedule.

I’m sure you are wondering why I didn’t have a plan right?

The room makeover started with me seeing a friend’s dining room table and white paint color on Instagram!

The exact wrong place to start a design plan.

I bought the table and paint first…BAD IDEA!

Now I am going to teach you the right way and my NORMAL room makeover attack plan.

How-to Start a Room Makeover

Now that I have confessed all of my sins LOL I can share the right way to redecorate.

Of course you can use these basic strategies, if you are starting from an empty room.

The intent of this guidance is for a true room makeover and not a new construction home. 

Great Places for Room Makeover Inspiration

  • Coffee table books from your favorite designers
  • Magazines
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • Friend’s rooms
  • Designer show houses / pictures

I’m going to assume you already have your inspiration room(s) saved somewhere as a reference.

It’s really important to have files ready to go, so you can reference them for assistance later

Master Bedroom Makeover


Let’s start with the basics and go through them step by step.

Step 1: Set a Decorating / Makeover Budget

Yes, I know this isn’t a fun place to start but it is ABSOLUTELY necessary!

Why is is it important to set a budget?

So you determine the scope of the makeover first.

  • Only have $100? Then you are limited to changing the paint using your labor and a few accessories.
  • Have $1000? Then you can invest in some small accent furniture, paint and accessories.
  • Saved up $5000 now you can look at larger furniture pieces and a rug plus paint and accessories. 
  • You got a bonus and have $10,000, then you can think about a small bathroom or kitchen remodel.

Do you see why it is so important? It will help you narrow down how big or small the room makeover will be.

Also, if you want to do a makeover in phases to fit your budget, then this will put you on your savings journey.

As an example using the master bedroom, I saved up about $3000 before I even thought about decorating because I wanted a king sized mattress and a new bed too!

Step 2: Determine Your Style

Looking around your home and determining the current style is critical to a successful single room makeover.

Changing ONE THING in a room creates a domino effect making other items look out of place or outdated.

If you change one ROOM in the middle of your home, well that domino effect is amplified!

  • When redecorating just one room, don’t go too far from the current style in your home.
  • Realize redecorating is a marathon and not a sprint.

The master bedroom makeover came AFTER the master bathroom makeover.

Master Bathroom Makeover


The master “suite” now had to work with the style of the bathroom.

If I would have decided to paint the bedroom A DARK navy, it wouldn’t fit with airy feel of the bathroom.

Think about the feel of the room and how it fits together with the adjacent rooms.

You want the paint color values to work in harmony…meaning how dark and light the paint is. How much light it reflects in the space too.

If you aren’t sure what to do, white paint is ALWAYS a safe option.

A question to ponder:

The room inspiration I have is “X style” and my current home style is “Y style” can these two styles blend?

If you are trying to completely change the style type, plan to change EVERYTHING!

Back to that budget…you will have to spend more to change styles. 

If you are going from a traditional style room, to a modern/sleek line room you can see how ALL elements in the room would have to change together. 

Say you like Joanna Gains style of white walls, black accents and industrial lighting. BUT you currently live in a home with jewel toned walls, wall paper, and heavy stained antique furniture.

You can see what a huge shift that would be to your current style.

However, if you just want to change the FEEL of the room that can easily be changed with a new paint color and accessories.

I painted all of my dark stained cabinets and furniture to save money and change the FEEL of my entire home.

  • The bathroom change was a STYLE CHANGE = $25,000
  • The bedroom change was a FEEL CHANGE = $3,000

But beyond changing the feel of the bedroom, I had some other needs.

On to step 3!

Step 3: What is the Room’s Function (physical & emotional)

What I mean by this is how do you want the space to serve you and your family?

Some things to consider: 

  • Do the furnishings need to be kid and pet friendly?
  • Does this space need to be a retreat or serve a new purpose?
  • Do I need furniture to make this room what I want and need? 
  • Will this space require additional storage or organizational pieces?
  • Is the lighting serving the needs of how I want to use this?
  • How do I want to feel or for my guests to feel in this room? 

Asking all of these questions ahead of time will help you PLAN THE SPACE!

Also, you will know what you need to purchase to make the room function in a new way.

Kitchen Makeover


Here is my kitchen as an example, which was a minor remodel…no structural changes.

I had a couple of goals related to the function of the kitchen island:
  • The counter stools sat low and the cushions weren’t firm making them uncomfortable.
  • The skirt on the kitchen island was deep and hard for people to sit under.
  • The drum shades on the island pendants aren’t cleanable.
  • I needed chair fabric that was durable and cleanable. 

So you see I was looking a the practical aspects of use (physical) and how comfortable the island seating is (emotional).

I love entertaining at the kitchen island, which serves a a kitchen table for us.

Making it so people can sit and chat for hours was a big priority.

A simple solution during the remodel was to cut down the skirt of the island and voila problem solved. 

Now regular counter height stools fit, when they wouldn’t previously.

It opened up a universe of new stool options for me!


Master bedroom makeover room function goals: 
  • The room needs to be a soothing retreat (emotional).
  • I needed a new mattress and a king sized bed (physical).
Dining room makeover room function goals:
  • The round table only sat 4 comfortably and wasn’t expandable (physical).
  • I wanted the room to be welcoming and soothing, since it is the first room you see in my house (emotional).

Hopefully, this will help you REALLY think about your space and make it work for YOU.

STEP 4: Create a Mood Board and Develop a Color Palette

You can do a Google search and one thing EVERY designer will tell you: 


Modern French Country_Design Selection_ Fabrics and Paint

The mood board can be tactile, with paint chips, fabric samples, and magazine cutouts or pages from a book flipped open.

Or it can be digital, with the same elements pulled together in a file.

Elements of a room makeover mood board:

  1. Paint colors – the ceiling is the 5th wall and don’t forget the trim!
  2. Furniture options
  3. Fabrics
  4. Window treatments
  5. Rug or carpeting
  6. Accessories, artwork, and lighting
But you are still asking me “How do I start a room makeover, Tracey?”

My simple answer…WITH ONE THING that is important in a room and helps you develop a color story.

My go to items to start a room makeover and build a mood board:

  • Fabrics / Pillows
  • Rugs
  • Artwork

From there you can develop a color story and find coordinating pieces for around the room.

Here’s the mood board for the master bedroom and it’s super simple!

Two ways to create a digital mood board is to copy images into Canva or a basic PowerPoint slide.

I use both and will walk you through how I TEST items in a room makeover BEFORE BUYING.


Watch the video in this post to see how I try two different pillows for the front porch VIRTUALLY.

It’s a quick way to see what you love and if colors coordinate too!

I give you instruction on how to drop products on your own home’s pictures.

Your goals when reviewing your mood board:
  • Do the colors work in harmony together? Paint and fabric treatments. 
  • Are the scale of the fabric and/or rug patterns making sense together? 
  • Do you see elements repeating to create visual interest? (i.e. the pattern in my window treatment repeats the kitchen island light pattern)
  • Are the furniture pieces the right style and scale for the room?
  • Does the artwork coordinate with the style and the colors of the room?

In truth, you can bring a mix of items together so it is an eclectic look. 

If you aren’t a trained interior designer, that’s SO much harder to do.

Knowing how to create layers of sophisticated color and texture is best left for the professionals!

You can see my style is very European, French and soft so I stick to it. Then just add pops of more modern elements.

Step 5: Make a Furniture Layout

If you are changing furniture pieces, YOU MUST DO THIS to avoid expensive mistakes!

Now that we are buying more and more online and can’t see it in person, it is CRITICAL to take note of the sizes of everything you are buying.

Keep them handy in the notes of your phone, a Word doc, or in your PowerPoint mood board 🙂

Furniture layout round coffee table sectional sofa and 2 chairs

It can be super simple! Since I don’t have any fancy software, I use free online tools.

This one from Ballard Designs is super easy to use: ROOM PLANNER

Not that techie? Grab a few tape measures and layout the specs on the floor.

What to consider when laying out furniture?
  • Don’t just pay attention to the length and width! Make sure the height is right too.
  • Do the heights of the backs of the chairs and sofa make sense with each other?
  • What are the seat cushion heights from the floor up? Does that work under a table or with a coffee table?
  • How deep is the seating? Deeper furniture is larger scale and sometimes not as comfortable to sit in.
  • Can you easily walk between pieces in a room?

These are just the basics, but will get you thinking!

I just recently added a 2nd sofa to my family room and had to consider – will my Christmas tree still fit in the corner.

Really think about how you use the space.


These 5 basic steps may seem like a lot of work I know, but so worth it in the end.

Guess what? I went LIVE on Instagram for some wine and design talking about room makeovers.

Instagram Live


It will start you out on the right path and help you avoid any major mistakes.

Plus get the room of your dreams versus feeling frustrated and confused. 

As they say “garbage in, garbage out” so start the right way and you won’t be disappointed.

There is SO MUCH more to actually designing a room, but now you have the tools to start with a solid foundation.

Want More Home Design Advice? 

My mission is to be helpful, so I hope I’ve done that!

I’d love if you would join the Porch Daydreamer fan club, so you never miss a post.

As my FREE GIFT to you, with email sign-up, a detailed paint sheen project guide! 

You will know the right sheen for every project…


Please consider following me on Pinterest and Instagram for daily inspiration.

Until next time…



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