5 important questions to ask yourself *Before* you redecorate your home | Knowledge and joy

Editor’s Note: Originally published in October 2020, this post will help you get to the heart of what matters most to you in terms of design… *before* you start renovating your home. We suggest keeping it handy as a handy reference for the next time you feel like renovating!


For some, the prospect of renovating your home sparks creativity and excitement. But I will say that for most of us it can be scary! Where do you start? How do you picture a hundred different items in your mind before you put down your credit card and pray you’ll like the result?

Whether you feel like moving forward with a new design or putting a twist on an existing look, there are always a few questions I like to ask myself before diving into a renovation project. Making these decisions involves being honest about how you want to live in the space, getting clear on the budget you want to stick to, and deciding on the primary design elements you want to shine the most.

Most importantly, renovating your home doesn’t necessarily mean spending a lot of money.

It’s more about prioritizing, trusting your vision and remembering that there are no RIGHT answers, only choices.

1. Am I okay with moving slowly, based on things like budget, shipping timelines, etc.?

Photo via @witanddelight_ on Instagram

Very few people have the budget to do gut remodeling, so being okay with going a little slower is often part of the process. Having the patience to be open to an extended timeline can also save you some money in the long run. Another benefit of slowing down? There is room to make adjustments as you go and not so much pressure to get things “right” right away.

Do your best not to rush through the process. Once you answer the questions below and get to the root of your personal style, start making a list of what you want to address in the room and prioritize it. One one step at a time folks.

2. Am I honest with myself about how I actually live?

Photo by Wing Ta of Canary grey to Domino Magazine

Asking this question will help you consider the materials, fabrics, layout and other design elements that will work best for you. Say you love the look of cement tile but hate dingy flooring. To know how materials that perform over time sometimes mean letting go of something you love in favor of something you can live with. Example: the cement tile kitchen floor i our first home. From the second it was installed, Joe hated cleaning it. We ended up spending thousands to remove it, only after spending thousands to put it in.

So be sure to consider the lifestyle you (and everyone else in your household) lead. What are the elements that will make everyday life easier for you? What are the things you can live without? This includes types of furniture, textiles and decor. It’s also important to consider other elements of your lifestyle as a way to inform your interior design preferences.

Are you hard on your clothes and shoes? Best to go with fabric for furniture that hides stains and can withstand hard wear.

Are you constantly changing your accessories for a new look? Spend money on fixed furniture in classic colors (navy, hunter green, grey) and look for smaller interior pieces at thrift stores.

When you know how you live and how you process things, you can stop focusing solely on what you want and instead focus on finding both what you love and what works for your lifestyle.

3. What are the things I really believe can’t stand it about the square?

5 questions to ask yourself before redecorating your space |  Knowledge and joy
Photo via @witanddelight_ on Instagram

I want you to pretend you are just moved in. Or maybe you just did! The point of this exercise is to look at your space with fresh eyes. Often we have preconceived ideas about what works and what doesn’t, and it starts as soon as we move in. Sometimes we decide we hate something based solely on our first reaction when we walked through and decided to sign the lease or mortgage.

But the thing is, if you’ve just moved in, you’re only guessing about your likes and dislikes. It takes time to digest what works in a room and it’s important to give yourself time to settle in (for at least a month or so) and thereafter make a list of things you absolutely cannot stand. I think you’ll be surprised how your perspective shifts. Or how your perspective shifts when you accept that there are some things about your space that you will have to keep.

It takes time to digest what works in a room and it’s important to give yourself time to settle in (for at least a month or so) and thereafter make a list of things you absolutely cannot stand. I think you’ll be surprised how your perspective shifts.

For example, I thought bathtub in the master bathroom would be the first thing I would change when we moved in, but instead I put up a shower curtain and it works fine. Is this my favorite thing about the house? Far from. Do I love it? NONE! Will I eventually change it? Yes. But there are far more pressing aspects of the home that need to be addressed.

It sure feels good to not be hyper-focused on how much I hate that tub every time I get in. I have decided to accept it and deal with it later. And that, my friends, is a much more comfortable way to bathe!

The same thought process worked with our kitchen. I thought I wouldn’t be able to STAND cooking in there. BUT, for the most part, we’ve actually learned to work with it in the last six months. In fact, there are many aspects of the layout that I keep in the long run because they are functional and work for our family. Why spend the money to change something just because? All I’m saying is keep an open mind. You may be surprised to find that you like your home more than you first realized.

4. What have I liked about the design of other rooms?

This is when we get to dream. What rooms have you been in that made an impression on you? Think beyond color and design. Think about FEELINGS. Memories. Think about past trips, whether visiting friends and family or staying in a hotel. Ask yourself what you liked about the rooms you stayed in and what elements made them feel like home. You want to break out of the Instagram algorithm that feeds you the same content and think of real-life examples of spaces you enjoyed.

This is where we get to dream. What rooms have you been in that made an impression on you? Think beyond color and design. Think about FEELINGS. Memories. Think about previous journeys.

By noticing what makes other places unique, I’ve learned more about how I want my own home to feel. I’ve realized that I feel more at home in places with a bit of quirkiness and character, that antiques and objects with history draw me in. I still love modern spaces, and I think that if I ever build a cabin or a cottage, it will be distinctly minimal and calm.

I don’t think I would have realized that distinction if I hadn’t focused on how different spaces made me feel. Tapping into the design elements that have set you apart elsewhere will help you decide what you want in your own home.

5. How will I implement the elements of my personal style in this space?

Look at what you’ve saved on Pinterest and Instagram and ask yourself what you liked about each of these images (few specific with the details and write them down!).

Liking things and deciding they are right for your home are two very different concepts. Take the wallpaper selection in the library as an example. If I just chose a pattern in a vacuum, my choice would have been very different from the wallpaper I actually chose, and the result would have been worlds away from the look I wanted to achieve in our home.

What you like visually and what do you like about how a room feels can be two separate things; try to find the middle ground between the two and see it as a good place to start in your own home.

Designing a home is an organic, ongoing process. It is a series of decisions that all create a different outcome. There is no wrong selection; it’s always a matter of preference. If you weigh every decision (paint color, furniture, decor, etc.) as something that can be the be all and end all of the room, it can feel crippling. The most important thing is that you check in with yourself as you go and keep the overall result light.

Get clear on how you want your home to look and want to move slowly through the process and trust that it will all come together in the end.

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