Order of operations for the daunted home decorator

Guest post by Danielle M
Home decorating book from MadGirlRetro

My name is Danielle and I am a new home addict.

I’ve moved eleven times in the past eight years. Some of these moves have been inspired by a condition I call “itchy-feet.” It is not a fungal condition, but an overwhelming case of wanderlust. A big contributor to this problem is the cycle of moving to a new place — I’m addicted to it. The promise of a big empty space just waiting to be filled with my possessions and personal flair is one of my favorite parts of moving. I love going to the home improvement store, scouring Craigslist, thrift stores, and dumpsters for new bits just begging to be played with. The immense satisfaction I feel after the completion of each project and the ego boost of having people wander through my house and marvel at the ridiculous things I have made… I love it all.

I am told there are people that find the home decorating process daunting. These creatures are reluctant to move and start the process from scratch. I hear they even get so overwhelmed that they sometimes do nothing for long periods of time, or — GASP! — hire someone else to do it.

Through my many moves I’ve developed a process to yield the maximum output — loveliness and satisfaction — with the minimum amount of input — despair and hard work. I will share it here. Regardless of which of the above camps you fall into, you may benefit from the system and hopefully this will make your next move, decorating, or love sequence a little easier.

First, pick an oasis.

Select the room you spend the most time in and really noodle what you want to do with it. This way, when the rest of the house is in varying degrees of chaos/boringness, you have a sanctuary. I choose my bedroom. This way the first and last thing I see every day makes me feel happy and accomplished. I don’t have kids, but I think I’d do their rooms next so they have that same happy oasis feeling.

Next, do the living room.

I do this because, for me, it’s usually the maximum amount of output. Then you have two of the rooms you hang out and spend leisure time in complete. This gives you the mental boost you need to go for the rest. If you have an office/studio space that you spend a great deal of time in I would recommend doing this room before the living room.

Next up is the bathroom.

The bathroom is small and easy to do if you’re simply decorating and not doing a full-on remodel. Spruce it up a bit, paint it, and never underestimate the power of decorations in your bathroom. This is great for when you’re feeling overwhelmed or in a creative slump.

After that, do the kitchen.

Kitchens are not that important to me. I don’t cook much so I just pretty it up and make it as functional as possible. Most people have to do a lot to make their kitchen work well for them, so I think it’s a good room to do after you have had the satisfaction of perfecting a few other rooms.

Then, move through the lesser rooms in your house as you have time/energy/money.

Guest bedrooms, bathrooms, entryways, closets, et cetera.

Most importantly, apply all that super knowledge you have about yourself to make this process easier.

I know I need to drink lots of beer, rock out to rap hits of the nineties, and spend lots of time hot gluing in my underpants. If you’re a tea-drinking, Tom Waits-listening, painting-in-your-sweats kind of person, do that stuff. Take care of yourself so you don’t wind up resenting your home and finding excuses to get away from it so it stops rubbing your nose in your exhaustion with all things domestic.

Comments on Order of operations for the daunted home decorator

  1. This is really timely for me! I’m about to move to a house with three more rooms than my apartment, and I’m not sure where to start. I was thinking about doing the bathroom first because it will be easy to finish, but creating an oasis makes a lot of sense. Thanks!

    • As a person who has also moved lots, I would always suggest leaving the bathroom until last. You’ll poop and bathe and brush your teeth there, but otherwise don’t spend too much time hanging out, and it’s easy to throw your toothbrush, towel, and shampoos in there for later use.

  2. I adore moving so much for exactly the reason you listed: itchy-feet. I love that feeling of a brand new (to me) space with tons of possibilities. I have the feeling right now but funds are preventing the move (really wanting to move to Florida). I used to settle these feelings with just rearranging furniture but now that I’m with someone who actually gives input on decorating, I can’t just move things all willy-nilly.

  3. We’ve been in our place three years this Christmas and it’s still not there. I love your tips, because they are so simple. We don’t have a lot of time or money for renovating, so we’ve had to make do with what we’ve got a lot, but I think there are small simple things we can do to get ourselves on the right track. Thank you!

  4. Great timing! My husband and I are currently camped at my mother’s, waiting to move into our new rental house. It’s going to be a total blank slate, and I’m grasping for any and all suggestions for getting starting with this whole decorating thing. Creating our bedroom oasis first makes a whole lot of sense – thank you!

  5. If you’re just painting this advice may be okay, but if you are planning on renovating, plumbing, getting rid of popcorn ceilings etc, then you really need to think ahead a little more. For instance, I want to get rid of my popcorn ceiling in my living room, but I may have to access the plumbing through the ceiling when I do the upstairs bathroom, so it makes sense to do the bathroom first. I also want to put in a pocket door when I renovate the bathroom, which will mean opening up a wall in my bedroom, so painting my bedroom will also need to wait. My advice would be to get an idea of all major renos, and figure out how they will affect other parts of the house, before you start.

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