Always best to plan ahead for redecoration project

Dear Gail: We want to redecorate our master bedroom and don’t know where to start. Do we buy things as we see them? Or is there a specific order? — Patricia

Dear Patricia: It’s always best to start with a plan. Your plan needs to include what you’re going to keep, what you’re going to buy, how quickly you want it completed and, most importantly, your budget. I know we all want it now, but the when can affect your budget.

I’ve worked with many clients who have redecorated in stages, so they could get exactly what they wanted and stay within their budget, instead of doing everything right away and having to make sacrifices to keep within budget.

So what are you going to keep? Take a picture of each item and write the measurements right on the picture. Even though you’ve had this piece for years, it’s always best to have a picture with you when shopping. Sometimes we forget the exact color and details.

Now make a list of what you want to buy. How much are you willing to spend on each piece? Remember to include sales tax and an estimate for delivery charges if you’re buying new furniture. Those numbers add up. Is the total within your budget? If not, make adjustments. I’d start by lowering your accessory and lighting budget first.

Before you go out shopping, make a quick floor plan. Include each wall with door and window placement and their sizes. This will be very helpful when shopping for window treatments and artwork.

So what order do you buy things? If you plan on doing the whole room at one time, it’s best to coordinate every piece together before purchasing. This will ensure you’ll have the right sizes, color and theme and stay within your budget. But if you plan on redecorating your bedroom over a couple months, here’s a general order in which you should purchase your items.

n You’ll want to start with your most expensive items and those that have a limited number of options. Of course, every item can be custom made. But is that in your budget?

n Purchase the mattress before bedding and furniture. I know this sounds like common sense, but it’s amazing how many people buy their bedding and headboard before the new king mattress they really wanted.

Are you considering going from a queen to a king? Do you want a high pillow top or something lower so you don’t need a step stool to get in and out of your bed? Everyone has different preferences. This is an important investment item, so purchase it first.

n Furniture is your long-term and functional pieces in your room. There’s a lot to select from, but they are more limited than the other items you’ll be purchasing.

On your floor plan, mark where you’d like each item and the largest size it can be. By noting the largest, you know you can always go smaller. They always look so much smaller in a 200,000-square-foot showroom than your 300-square-foot bedroom.

n Using a TV armoire? What size is your TV?

n Want to have upholstery pieces? You’ll want to select this fabric before your bedding and windows. You’re a bit more limited if you just select from the fabrics which the manufacturer offers. Some will allow you to use your own fabric, and, of course, you can have anything reupholstered.

n Choose bedding before paint. You’re unlimited on paint colors, but not on bedding.

n Decorate windows after bedding, because your bed is the focal point in the room. If you can’t find window treatments you like, you can have simple drapery panels made to coordinate with your bedding that won’t break your budget. Custom bedding is a whole lot more expensive.

n Artwork is one of those items which can really come at different times depending on how important it is to you and how much you plan on spending. If your pieces will be investments, then purchase your artwork before your bedding, as it will most likely set the color and theme in your room.

n Paint always comes after artwork, as it’s to act as a backdrop to your artwork. If you’re looking at inexpensive pieces, you could start with your bedding. Here it’s almost what really calls to you first.

n Area rugs are tricky items to place in your purchasing order. How much of it are you going to see? Do you have tile floors and just want to be able to step on it when getting out of bed? Do you have a large master? Then maybe it will be a focal point. Are you going to place it under your upholstery pieces? How much do you want to spend?

If you’re going to see a lot of the rug and place with your seating area, I’d start with the area rug. If you plan on purchasing a fairly expensive rug, I’d start with it before any of the other fabric items. If it’s just going to be functional for under your bed, you can purchase it after your fabric items.

n Save accessories and lamps for last. They’re your least expensive purchases and ones you’ll most likely change out over time.

There are many factors which can change the order you purchase your pieces, but I hope this gives you a general idea.

Gail Mayhugh, owner of GMJ Interiors, is a professional interior designer and author of a book on the subject. Questions may be sent by email to Or mail to 7380 S. Eastern Ave., No. 124-272, Las Vegas, NV 89123. Her web address is

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