-Sep 27, 2018

My Interior Decorating Process

By Teresa Caruso

This past year especially, we have redecorated many rooms in our Brooklyn apartment, and I’ve shared the process through video and photos over on Instagram. Many of you asked if I could share more about the process, and what goes on behind the scenes. While you love the before and afters, you wanted to know more about the steps I take, like how I create my mood boards, decide what to buy, and everything in between. Today I’m going to be sharing my entire interior decorating process from start to finish. You’ll find out exactly what program I use to create my mood boards, what I include in my shopping list, how I score the best deals, and how I determine what I should splurge on. Here are the five steps of my interior decorating process:

1. Create a Mood board

Whenever I decide I want to redecorate a room, I always start by creating a mood board. This helps me come up with a theme, decide on the type of furniture I want, and creates an overall plan for the space. As I get further along in the decorating process, the mood board tends to evolve with the project. The mood board usually starts as a few inspiration pictures, followed by adding in the furniture and decor, and then I tweak it until I feel like I’ve created a space I truly love. A mood board doesn’t necessarily have to be an exact plan for the room, but it’s a wonderful guide to help you figure out what you want for the space.

    • How I create a mood board

I create my mood boards in Adobe Photoshop, but there are other user-friendly programs you can use like PowerPoint, Canva, or PicMonkey. I use Adobe Photoshop regularly for this site, so it’s the program I’m most comfortable using, and I feel it gives you the most options. (You can sign up for the Adobe Photography monthly plan for $19.99 per month, which includes Photoshop and Lightroom, the two programs I use daily.)

2. Create a budget and shopping list

Once I know the look I’m going for, it’s easier for me to estimate how much I need to spend to achieve what I want. It’s really easy to encounter unexpected expenses when redecorating a room, so I find planning ahead the best way to go. When it comes to decorating a room, I typically spend more on investment pieces like furniture, and less on decor like lamps and curtains. My reasoning is that furniture will last for years, and stand the test of time (for the most part), whereas decor is usually trendier. Also, if you’re buying a new sofa, which you will most likely use daily, it makes sense to invest a little more and know that it’s strong enough to last for years to come. To stay organized and on budget, I create a shopping list, usually in Google Sheets or Excel. This isn’t your ordinary shopping list. Rather than just list out what I want, I include the item, the retailer, it’s price, a link to it, and the shipping cost. Having a shopping list also helps me get the best price for each item, which brings me to step three, keeping an eye out for sales…

3. Keep an eye out for sales or wait for a holiday shopping weekend

I very rarely pay full-price for anything when it comes to furniture or home decor. In an online world of coupon codes, there’s no reason why you should. The only time I don’t use a coupon or wait for a sale, is if the item is limited edition and will most likely sell out, or if it’s a retailer that doesn’t have sales (which is rare). People always wonder how I’m able to shop at retailers like West Elm, Pottery Barn, and PB Teen, and it’s because I wait for their sales. West Elm, Pottery Barn, and PB Teen, are all Williams-Sonoma brands and they hold Friends & Family sales all throughout the year where you can get anywhere from 15-30% off of your purchase. When you’re dealing with high-ticket items like furniture, 15-30% is major. Another trick I have for saving, is joining retailer’s rewards programs. West Elm, PB Teen, and all of the other William-Sonoma brands are part of a rewards program called Key Rewards, which is absolutely free to join. Once you join, you receive 3% back in rewards across their entire family of brands. 3% may not sound like a lot, but it adds up pretty quickly, and I’m able to apply those rewards to future purchases. (You can sign up for Key Rewards here).

The best time to shop for furniture is during a holiday weekend like Memorial Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, and of course, Thanksgiving weekend. You’ll find that almost every retailer you love will be hosting a sale.

4. Shop at stores like HomeGoods and Marshalls for the “extras”.

After I’ve made all of the major purchases for a space, I turn to stores like HomeGoods, Marshalls, and TJMaxx for any decor I may need to complete the space. As I said earlier, it’s usually decor that tends to be trendier, so I don’t like to spend a lot on it. I usually turn to these stores for items like curtains, throw blankets, and odds and ends.

5. Stage the entire space, and don’t be afraid to make changes.

When it comes to redecorating a space, you won’t know exactly how it looks, or exactly how you feel about it, until you put everything in place. Once everything is in place you’ll be able to see if the space is too cluttered, if the space needs more, or if you’re unhappy with it. If a piece isn’t working, don’t be afraid to return it. This may be harder with larger furniture, but don’t keep something just out of convenience. Ultimately, you won’t grow to love whatever it is, and you’ll end up replacing it way sooner then you need to. Most major retailers have great return/exchange policies, so use them to your advantage if you’re not completely in love with something you purchased. I haven’t had any major regrets when redecorating, but I’ve returned my fair share of throw blankets, lamps, and decor.

My favorite places to shop
(Free) Rewards Programs To Join
  • Key Rewards: Earn 3% back in rewards when you shop at Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, PB Teen, West Elm, Williams Sonoma, Williams Sonoma Home, and Mark and Graham.
  • World Market Rewards: 15% off coupon when you enroll, and a $10 coupon for every 200 points earned (1 point = $1 spent).

And that’s basically it. These are the steps I follow every time we’re redecorating a space. It’s taken quite a bit of trial and error to get here, but now Matt and I are basically pros. I hope my tips help you the next time you’re redecorating a space or shopping for furniture.

Where do you love shopping for furniture?
Last Updated: Sep 8, 2019
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