Shop For Your Home like an Interior Designer

So, first, you daydreamed and let all the ideas come.

After that, you narrowed down, refined and put together a room that you love.

Bravo!  You are way ahead of the pack.  You are on the verge of having a plan.

Today we are moving on to Step Three in our Design Series:  The Doing Stage – Create the Vision.

(Wait…you’ve done Step One and Step Two, right?)

Raise your hand if you’ve ever meandered around the aisles of, say, Home Goods and bought some pillows or a lamp, only to find out it didn’t fit into your house at all once you brought it home?  Did you then decide you’re not very good at this decorating thing, get discouraged and wish you’d gone to art school?

What??  You too?

Well, chin up, because this is the equivalent of buying a shirt you never wear because you can’t figure out the rest of the outfit once you get it home.  Easily fixable, if you bought some pants to go with it at the same time, right?

Think about it.  You plan an outfit.  You plan a meal.  Today we are putting feet on all our dreaming and planning by creating a detailed shopping list.  Or what I like to call, Shopping Like a Designer.

1.  Take measurements

With your room completely empty (and with painted walls and flooring you love) measure the overall room.  Make a note of it somewhere at the top of your list.  This is good to know, just in case.  

Next figure out sizes for the big items.  For the dining room I designed, this would be the farm table, chairs and the buffet.


If necessary, use painter’s tape on the floor to get a visual of how much space you have for each piece.

Ask yourself questions like: how big does this piece need to be to fill up the space, but not overwhelm the room?   Does the room look balanced?

Once you’ve figured out actual dimensions for the big pieces, measure things like rug size, lamp height, dimensions for art work, etc.

2. Begin your shopping list

Write out a description of each piece and the size you are looking for.

My list would look like this:

  • Rustic wood farm table – 74″Lx40″W
  • 2 upholstered chairs in fun gold fabric – approximately 39″Tx26″Wx26″D
  • 4 white painted wood chairs
  • blue/green painted buffet – 66”Lx19”Dx37”T

If it’s easier to take baby steps, start with a big piece or two and go shopping for those items.  Putting the focal points in place first makes it easier to fill in the rest of the details.  Go from big to small.

But if you want to do it all (or most of it) in one swoop, then continue on with your list:

  • Rustic wood farm table – 74″Lx40″W
  • 2 upholstered chairs in fun gold fabric – approximately 39″Tx26″Wx26″D
  • 4 white painted wood chairs
  • blue/green painted buffet – 66”Lx19”Dx37”T
  • Wood and metal chandelier approximately 22”x20”
  • 2  – 18” topiaries
  • 52”x40” space for artwork
  • 8’x10’ rug in white and cream (no grey)

3.  Make a “Decorator Bag”

In a ziplock bag, combine your shopping list, room images, paint colors, fabric swatches, and a measuring tape.

You are now armed with all the information and visuals you need to go shopping!

4.  Shop!

Because you now know exactly what you are searching for, your laser focus will prevent you from wandering aimlessly and getting distracted by (and buying!) things you don’t need.

Before you head out the door, shop your home first.  Two functional, upholstered chairs in your den may look fabulous with the dining room table.  Or art work hiding on a wall in your bedroom would be a better focal point over a buffet.

And…I know that sometimes we don’t have the luxury of going out and buying a whole room full of furniture at a time.  I have never had that luxury!  But that doesn’t mean you should skip this third phase!  Taking measurements, making a list, writing things down….all so important.

Whenever we have dreams or a vision for our lives, it opens us up to see God move for us.  You will recognize when things come your way.  It will create expectancy and thankfulness.

God has never failed to meet my needs in this area and 80% of my home furnishings have come from thrift stores, estate sales and other second hand places.

It may take longer to pull your room together when you’re on a budget, but it can still be done.  Having a list will save you money in the long run since you won’t be buying stuff you don’t need just because it’s on sale!

So go get a vision, make a plan and pull together your shopping list!  You will enjoy the process so much more and most importantly, your room will look put together and finished!


This is Part Three in my series on decorating your home like a pro!

To read Part One: The Dreaming Stage – Get a Vision, click here

To read Part Two: The Planning Stage – Write the Vision click here

P.S. Have a piece of furniture you want to make over for your new room?  Confused by milk paint, chalk paint, acrylic paint and which is best?  Enter your email below and I will send you my FREE paint guide that walks you step-by-step through the decision making process.  (Hint:  it depends on the look you want and the finish you’re starting with!)  


  1. Looking forward to your awesome tips on painting and creating new looks for furniture

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