4 Questions You Need to Answer Before You Redecorate

Think you’re ready for a room makeover? Read these tips and answer these 4 questions before you redecorate. 

It’s also helpful to read How to Plan Your Next Big (or Small) Home Project and How to Choose a Whole Home Color Palette

Answer These Four Questions Before You Redecorate

by Jackie from School of Decorating

I strongly caution against redoing a room too often.

It can be fun to latch onto the latest trend or redecorate a room to usher in a new season, but it can also be costly.

I would rather see you invest in pieces you love and learn how to mix and match pieces across your home so you can refresh a room anytime at no cost.

These are great questions to think about for any room makeover.

Whether you’re planning a big makeover or a small refresh, the four questions below are important to answer before you start.

If you work through each of them, you might realize you don’t need as big of a makeover as you thought.

And hopefully you’ll discover you have items around your home that can be pulled together to breath new life into the room you’re working on.

Question 1: What don’t you like about the room as it currently is?

When you don’t like a space, it’s important to pause and take a moment to reflect on what you don’t like about it specifically.

No, you can’t just say, “everything.” Pinpoint the issues you have with the room.

Are the colors wrong? Is the feeling off? Is the layout poor?

To make sure you are being specific enough, complete this sentence for each issue: I don’t like __________(specific thing) because __________(problem it creates).

See what I did there? I want you to explain why. It will help with the following questions.

Here’s an example problem statement: I don’t like the wood tone accents on the mantel because they blend in with the wood color of the mantel and it looks boring.

Question 2: What would make it better?

There’s a natural tendency to dream big when you get the urge to redecorate.

But you don’t always need to make big, sweeping changes to get the result you want.

If you focus too much on grand gestures instead of specific problem areas, your makeover might miss the mark completely.

You need to start with the specific problems you identified in the first question above.

Once you’ve identified what’s wrong with the room, you’re ready to spell out what would make it better. Again, be as specific as possible.

For each problem statement you wrote, flip it around into an opportunity statement. To prevent/avoid/fix __________(problem), this room needs __________(specific solution) that will __________(how it will make it better).

Here’s an example opportunity statement: To avoid boring accents that blend in to the wood tone of the mantel, this room needs bright colorful accents, like white and turquoise, that will stand out against the mantel and wall color and make a fun statement.

Question 3: Which existing elements in the room should stay?

You don’t have to start from scratch to give your room a new look and feel.

In fact, you’ll be about twenty steps ahead of the game if you keep the existing things you like as a starting point.

Based on your problem and opportunity statements, decide what items should stay and what should go.

Anything that contributes to a problem should go (like wood toned accessories).

Anything that can help create the desired after should stay (like white and colorful accessories).

You don’t have to actually get rid of anything.

You can move pieces that don’t work in this room to another room.

You can also move items around within the room.

Maybe the wood toned accessories don’t pop on the mantel, but they’d look fabulous on the ottoman tray.

Question 4: What do you need to refresh the room?

I put the emphasis on need, because you’re not ready for wants.

If you want to make the biggest impact on your room, focus on what you need to solve the specific problems in the room first.

What you want–anything above and beyond the problems you identified in question one–are bonus after you address the needs.

To stay focused on what you need for the room create a “shopping list.”

You’ll use it first to shop your own home, then if necessary to shop for new items.

You know by now, I love getting specific, but when it comes to room accessories it can be nearly impossible to identify exactly what you want ahead of time.

Instead, I like to get specific by detailing the qualities the accessories should have.

Write down the feelings, colors, textures, shapes, and elements that the accessories need to have to make your room better.

Your opportunity statements hold the clues to completing your list.

Once you know what you are looking for, start by shopping your own home.

What accessories do you have in other rooms that match the qualities you need to refresh this room?

You might find everything you need for your room refresh or at least a few things that will save you money over a full makeover.

Now You’re Ready to Redecorate

When you take a few moments to work through each of these questions, I bet you’ll find you don’t need as much as you thought to update your room.

My challenge to you is to see how you can solve your room challenges without a trip to the home store.

Leverage what you already have to create a room you love.

If you want to learn more about restyling without buying, check out my new book Free Decorating: How to Shop Smart, Save Money, and Love Your Home Decor.

More tips for redecorating:

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Jackie turned traditional decorating advice on it's head with her signature simple approach to creating a dream home in any home at School of Decorating. Jackie’s blog Teal & Lime empowers everyday women (like you) to uncover their individual style so decorating becomes a breeze.

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  1. Great tips! Always a good idea to take a step and reassess what you really need before going overboard with the latest trend! I always like to ‘shop’ other rooms in my home and switch pieces I already have around for a fresh look 🙂