How to decorate your room on a budget without maxing out your Credit Card

Decorating your home requires money, and it can be expensive depending on your design style and taste.  

But decorating your home does not have to be expensive if you know what furniture pieces you need in your space, you are clear on how you want to feel, and your furniture choices should reflect how you want to feel and how you want to live.  

By knowing your budget in advance, you will avoid over spending by not even looking at furniture that is out of your price range.  It will keep you in check by making you aware of which websites to visit and where to shop.  

My step by step guide will assure you that you will not max out your credit card and get yourself into debt because you can't live without that $15,000 gold-gilded coffee table that you saw at Boca Do Lobo.  

Deciding on a budget

You have to come up with a budget and stick to it before you even start to shop.  The key here is to be disciplined and not to go off and buy something that is outside of your set budget for that item.  (And if you do, then you need to subtract that amount from your other items.)  

It's all about what you think it's worth spending on and keeping an open mind.

Step 1:  
Make a list of all the furniture pieces that you need

Step 2:
Put an amount next to it that you are willing to spend on that piece of furniture
For example:  Coffee table -  $ 500 max. 

Step 3:
Sum up the total.  This will be your budget for your furniture for your space. You have to be good and stay on track.  

If your total is more than the actual money you have to spend, then you will have to go back and adjust your budget for each piece accordingly.

Here’s a worksheet that you can print and write down what your furniture or functional needs are and your budget.   

Click here to download your worksheet and print it out - http://bit.ly/1iIhBDz

To help you determine what furniture you need, and how you want to feel in your space, here's a great post - http://www.inspiredlivinginteriordesign.com/2012/12/a-bedroom-makeover-part-1-best.html

And last leave me a comment and let me know if you have any questions about setting a budget for your space.  

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The Secret to choosing the right furniture size for your living room and not looking funny

You walk into J.Crew and you are looking for that perfect silk shirt that sits just right to go with those killer leather pants that you just bought. You are going to a friend’s b-day party at her home and you want to impress the guests and feel good.  

You are thinking the xsmall should fit, so you try it on and it’s too tight; the buttons are about to pop and you feel cramped in the shirt.  Than you tried on the medium and it’s too big; you feel like you are being swallowed by the shirt and it just doesn’t feel right.  Then finally you tried on the small size and it fits perfectly; the shirt hugs you where it needs to and it feels comfortable. You feel hot and sexy in it!  Together with those leather pants it will look pretty smokin’!  

You might be thinking, what does buying a silk shirt has to do with buying furniture that is the right size?  A lot, actually.

You see, buying the right sofa, chairs or coffee table is the same as buying that perfect silk shirt.  The right size will make your living space feel good, comfortable and cozy and you’ll just want to show it off to your friends and family.
Buying the wrong furniture size has exactly the opposite effect.  Buying furniture that is too big for your space will make it looked cramped and uncomfortable, and buying furniture that is too small for your space will make it look like your living space is going to swallow your furniture up.  

You are lucky that you get to try the shirts before buying them.  But there is no such luck with furniture.  You can’t really try the furniture out before you hand over your hard earned cash to the sales clerk!  If you want to try that sofa that caught your eye in Crate and Barrel, you’ll need to buy it before you try it.

Oh and what a pain it is if it doesn’t fit in your living room!  

One of the main problems with homeowners is that they buy furniture that is too big or too small for their space, because they don't know what size would fit.   I’ve seen this soooo many times and I can’t stress enough how important it is to buy the right furniture size for your home.  

We buy a sofa or chairs that are too big, or coffee tables that are too small for our space because we don’t have a furniture plan and because we don’t know what furniture size to choose for our living space.  

Have you ever wonder how those living rooms in Elle Decor are so perfect?  Everything seems to be in its place, so comfortable and cozy that you just want to jump inside the pages and onto the sofa in the living room.  

All you have to do is to follow one simple rule to create your own comfortable, cozy and amazing living space.  

The Rule of 2/3

The secret to choosing the right furniture size for your living room is to follow the rule of 2/3.  

All you have to do is use scale and proportion.  The furniture needs to be balanced in your space and have the right amount of walking space.  But before you start choosing the size of your furniture you need to know where you are going to place it first.  Here’s a post on how to draw your floor plan and create your own furniture plan.   
Once you know where you are going to place it, you can use the rule of 2/3 to choose pieces that will go together well.
For example, if you have a sofa that is 72” wide, choose a coffee table that is 48” wide — this will cover 2/3 of the sofa.  

Now you might be thinking, what is the furniture in relation to the wall?  You have to make sure to have enough space for a sofa and side table that it only covers 2/3 of the wall or space otherwise it will look like you jammed your furniture in.  If your sofa together with the end tables doesn’t cover 2/3 of the wall that means your furniture is too small, and you need to get bigger ones or add more furniture pieces to the space.  

You can see how the picture above is balanced and in proportion to the wall and the space in general.  The living space is more intimate, cozy and warm.  The sofa together with the side tables only fill up 2/3 of the wall space.  Likewise, the coffee table only covers 2/3 of the sofa.  This is important because it will leave space to walk around the coffee table when you have side chairs next to it.  Remember I talked about the importance of having the right walkingspace from last week?
From the image above, you can tell that the space is too big and the furniture is too small for the space.  This creates a cold feeling in the home and too much empty space that will make you uneasy.  It’s very sad looking and reminds me of a funeral parlor with all the empty space for some reason!

If you feel your space is too big to fill up, there are  three options. First option: get a larger sofa, supersize your furniture.  Second option is to add a tall and slim furniture piece like a bookcase or floor mirror to fill out the space.  And the third option — divide your space in two sections.  
If you did buy a sofa that is too small for the space and don’t want to spend the time and money to return it, see if you can fill out the excess space with something that is tall, like a bookcase or a floor mirror.  Or you can separate your living space in two separate sections.
Afterwards think about the lounge chairs or side chairs to finish off the room. 

Always make sure that you have the right furniture size for your living space and know where each furniture goes by creating a furniture plan, and than making sure that you’re walking spaces and conversation spaces are right.  

Below are Furniture Dimension Cheat Sheets that I created especially for you to create your own living room that is balanced, in order, and comfortable so that you can invite your friends over for wine and cheese. 

Now you are ready to create your perfect living room like the living rooms in Elle Decor!

Next week we will find out how to come up with a budget for your living space and see some great inspirations of some of the most well decorated space.  

Do you have any questions about choosing the right furniture size for your space?  Leave me a comment below and I would love to help you with it.  

If you have more pressing questions about your living room in general, schedule a free 30 min. Happy Up Your Home Session and I will give you 3 action steps that you can take to make your living room look better.  

Learn how to decorate like a pro, get on my list to get free design advice!! 
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A Cheat sheet to Create Furniture Layout for your Living Room

You have been invited to your friends’ housewarming party. You are welcomed into their home. It’s looks great and everything but there is just one thing that is not right; you have to scream at each other to hear each other.  

You’re sitting in the living room with all the other guests that you haven’t met yet and would like to meet. So you start a conversation with the person across from you

You: Hi, how do you know Erika? 
Dan (the other guest): WHAT SORRY I CAN’T HEAR YOU!

I’ve been in that situation. It sucks and makes for a very awkward chat!  You feel self-conscious and bad, because you feel like you’re not talking loud enough or you might think the other person is deaf.  You’re screaming so much that you eventually develop a headache just by having a conversation with someone.  It’s so not comfortable and very frustrating.  

Do you want to subject your guests to such a situation?  I am guessing not! 

The easiest way to avoid that is to position your furniture so that it’s close enough that you can hear the other people talk.  

Creating intimacy and conversation should be the guiding principle to creating a furniture layout for your living room.

First let start with walking spaces. This is very important, because if you don’t have any space to walk you won’t be able to get into your living room. 

There are two types of walking space for the living room:

Conversation Walking Space is the distance between the sofa, chairs and the coffee table.  This is usually between 12” and 24”.

These distances are key to fostering conversations because you will be at a hearing distance from the person sitting next to you or across from you.  Otherwise you will be screaming at the other person like Dan and Erika above, and that is the situation that we want to avoid.  And a closer distance makes it more intimate.  

General Walking Space is the space that is not the conversation space, the space that allows you to walk freely from one point to another. This is usually between 36” and 72”.

General walking space is flexible depending on the size of your room, but the minimum should be 30”, otherwise it will be too narrow and not feel like it’s a general walking space.  

Second, we have to pay attention to the traffic flow of your living room. 

The traffic flow or the circulation pattern is the flow that we follow as we move from one location to another within the space.  This is usually between 36” and 48”.

You want to make it easy to get from point A to point B within the room as quickly and easy as possible without hitting a road bump or dead end. Also, you don’t want to block any doorway or entryway to and from the living room.  

A straightforward flow pattern that would not cut into the conversation area would be ideal or a circular flow. 

You will not be cut off mid conversation with someone just because the person next to you needs to get up and use the bathroom or to go grab a drink or food.  

Walking spaces and traffic flow are very important because you don’t want to walk and hit a dead end or have too much space or too little space between the coffee table and the sofa—unless you’re an Olympic gymnast and can do flips onto the sofa!  

Third, we need to choose the correct furniture size for your living room. 

In addition to paying attention to the walking space and traffic flow, you need to choose the correct furniture dimensions for you living room. 

Remember to always start with the sofa first, as this is the biggest item in the room.  Here’s more information about how to select your perfect sofa 

We’ll go into choosing the correct furniture sizes in depth next week, and I’ll provide a template of furniture sizes as a reference for you—so stay tuned! 

What’s your biggest living room dilemma? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!  

Other related post: 
Christine's no fail guide to draw a floor plan
7 tips to create a successful furniture layout

P.S. I still have some spots open for my Free 30 Min. Happy Up Your Home Session.  Don't wait to schedule a date, you can sign up here - http://bit.ly/1kyRlOc

Learn how to decorate like a pro, get on my list to get free design advice!! (Did I mention it's Free?) Sign up now!

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Thank you for reading Happy Lady Decorates. I would love to hear from you about your design dilemma's or any other design problems you might have, just shoot me an email or leave me a comment and I will be very Happy to help you out with it.
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