I recently received a question on my Facebook page about decorating a room piece by piece if you don’t have the budget to buy new items all at once.  The homeowner definitely wanted to be intentional about the items chosen for the space over time.  I’ve come up with some suggestions, and honestly I believe these can work whether you’re buying pieces over a longer or shorter period of time … so here we go … (and are any of you familiar with the song “Piece by Piece” by Kelly Clarkson – it is now in my head, lol!).

1.      Before buying anything for the room you are planning to decorate, create a Pinterest board (follow us here) on which you can save inspiration photos for the room.  Later, review the photos you’ve saved and try to find a common thread within the inspiration photos to help define the style you’ll want in the space.  Is it modern? traditional? contemporary? rustic? Farmhouse?  You get the picture …

2.      Consider what lifestyle you want to live in the space, i.e. what activities will occur in the room, or what is the planned function of the room?  Is it a family game room?  Will it be a home office, or a maybe a child’s bedroom?

3.      Next, think about how you want the room to feel – what adjectives would you use to describe the feelings you want to evoke in the room?  Bright and energetic?  Warm and inviting?  The words you decide upon are going to be very important as you will want any items added to the room to assist in creating those feelings in the room.

4.      Make a wish list of things you’d like to be in the room when it’s finished.  For example, if you’re creating a home office you may list:  desk, lamp, desk chair, bookshelf, guest chair, rug, drapes, accessories, 2 pieces of art, etc.

5.      Now here’s where the fun begins (at least I think it’s fun!):  Find a piece that will drive your primary scheme in the room (some designers call it a “lead item”).   This could be a piece of art, a rug, a pillow, fabric, drapery, etc.   This item should contribute to evoking the feelings you want to achieve in the room.  Here’s an example of an item that was the primary driver in the decorative scheme in my family room – it was the fabric for my drapery panels, which was also used for some of the pillows on the sofa and loveseat.

Once your lead item is decided upon and purchased, all other items purchased for the room need to work cohesively with this item, while also aligning with the style preference you identified in step 1, the functionality in step 2, the feelings in step 3, and hopefully on your list from step 4.




6.      The lead item purchased in step 5 is not necessarily a large furniture piece (although it could be).  Once you’ve identified your decorating scheme for the space from your initial lead item purchase, I recommend working to purchase the larger pieces next, such as the rug and/or furniture pieces.   It’s easier to add small decorative accessories and items later, once the big pieces are in place.   You can see in the picture above that I purchased a creamy beige neutral-colored piece for seating and here’s a photo of the rug which pulls together with the creamy beige color in the fabric and also seating pieces.

7.      Once you have the larger pieces in place, continue to add decorative accessories, art, etc, making sure to continually refer back to the initial steps to ensure the purchases are aligned with the plan, even if it takes you months to pull it all together.  Here are a few examples of items I added in my family room to coordinate with my original fabric inspiration – lamps, throw blanket, mirror, etc.


8.      Last bit of advice:  When you’re changing a space using these steps, I recommend most of the time choosing the paint colors last (if wall colors are changing) so you can coordinate the room color with the overall decorative scheme within the room.   My exception to this may be if the wall color itself is going to be the lead “item” in the room.  There are lots of things to consider when choosing paint colors, check out my previous blog post on that here (there’s a bonus worksheet available too!).

Hope this was helpful!   Feel free to reach out with any questions about redesign, and I always love to read comments on my posts so you’re welcome to leave a note in the comments section!

Lastly, I created a great worksheet in which you can type your information for your decorating project! You can then print and carry the completed sheet with you in your purse or wallet for reference on your project.  I thought this would be helpful since you will probably be shopping for this project over time and these details may not always be top of mind.  Enjoy!!

10 thoughts on “Decorating Intentionally By Piece

  • February 21, 2018 at 11:27 pm

    Love your post!!! Fantastic ideas I will put to use.

  • February 22, 2018 at 9:12 am

    When re-decorating our bedroom my lead item was the comforter . I loved the orchard color on a white background and went with that for the wall color. We do have a treadmill next to what was a plain wall. I chose for inspiration when exercising to have a painting done of my ‘Convertible’ heading to the beach, pulling out the color of the wall in the painting. I had it framed in white bringing in the background of the comforter. Also thought to put in a diffuser of essential oils on my armoire. Love the room! Bernice

    • February 22, 2018 at 9:40 am

      Your room sounds beautiful, and most important: you love it! A comforter is a great lead item when decorating; glad you were able to use it to pull things together. Enjoy!

  • February 22, 2018 at 1:10 pm

    That is more organized and thoughtful than my “if you buy what you like, eventually everything will come together” approach!

    • February 22, 2018 at 7:39 pm

      Lol, Sara Anne! Occasionally that approach can work, but I think it works much better on the wallet this way :).

  • February 22, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    I love these steps, Jeanne. They just make sense when you’re planning a room change. I have many Pinterest boards, but I think I should try making one per room instead of hodge-podge. My challenge is moving from an old style (all-white and vintage, shabby chic) to a new style (fixer-upper farmhouse) one room at a time. Thanks for the steps and the worksheet to help! I just love all the work you’re putting into this blog and biz.

    • February 22, 2018 at 7:46 pm

      I’m so glad you found the steps helpful, and that they make sense. Enjoy the worksheet and keep me posted on your progress!

  • February 22, 2018 at 7:10 pm

    Your blog lists important considerations for people who want to pace themselves in decorating their homes. People may have own reasons: budget or other ideas; so they choose intentional decorating ‘piece by piece’. Patience is a virtue.
    Great idea that you created a nice worksheet. Sounds like we’ll be able to type information on project, print it, and take it with us for reference seeing we’ll shop over a time period. If they’re like me, details for decorating home –may escape a person. I’ve shopped in a store, and upon entering, I wondered reason I arrived there (chuckle).

    • February 22, 2018 at 8:21 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it and hope you like the worksheet. I’ve done the same with forgetting things (chuckle too).

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