1-2-3, Decorating Your Home in the Right Order

I find that many frustrated homeowners are repeatedly making the same mistake in regard to decorating their spaces on their own.  They are decorating in the wrong order!


Many people spend waayyyy to much money on accessories, pillows, lamps, etc. in an effort to spruce up their rooms, thinking this is what will make their rooms look fresh and updated.  Then they are dissatisfied with the result – rooms that still aren’t “coming together.” 


Back up.  The first thing to consider is your color scheme.  Do you have one?  Is it cohesive?  Does your paint color look dated or unrelated to the other fixed elements in the room, like the flooring, cabinetry, major furniture pieces?



I always start with color before I suggest my client buy a single thing.  The right wall color and color scheme is the biggest impact you can make in any room, and it will effect your mood and the mood of your guests – either for the positive or for the negative!



Secondly, furniture arrangement should be handled before a single piece of art is hung or one accessory is placed.  Art and accessories will feel disconnected and random if they are not related to the furniture in the room. 

decorologist furniture arrangement


Finally, you can work on accessories!  Once your color is right and the furniture arrangement is comfortable and pleasing, you will be able to tell exactly what you need in regard to art and accessories.  You will better know what colors, textures, and shapes are needed to make the room feel cohesive and filled-out.

wood cabinetry



Today’s advice from The Decorologist:  stop throwing money away at HomeGoods on accessories until you get your color and your furniture arrangement where they need to be.   Then you will be able to make wise decisions on fun and interesting accessories that you will truly love.  If you are in the Nashville area and need help from an interior decorator who can help you make your house feel like a home, contact me today to schedule your appointment!


  1. Donna Frasca

    I agree! I also cringe when they get new carpeting first THEN paint the house.

    • Kristie Barnett

      Yes Donna, few people realize how the color of their carpet can totally dictate which wall color is going to look right and which will look horribly wrong!

  2. Monique

    Happy New Year! Thanks for these valuable tips. I’m trying to pull together a bedroom and these tips will come in handy.

  3. Holly

    Very, very smart advice. And straightforward advice too which is easy to understand. Our house is fairly small so furniture placement has always been fairly easy to decide on – I’ve always taken my time at getting accessories and artwork to make sure it was something we really loved. Happy New Year to you.

  4. Kelly

    Great advice as usual Kristie!

  5. Katie

    I think you wrote this post for me Kristie! I spend waayyy too much money at Home Goods. I love that store 😉 I wish I lived close to you so you could help me. Happy New Years!

  6. Lisa

    Thanks for the good advice. I’ve been bringing home items I love only to find that I don’t know where to put them since I haven’t gotten the colors and furniture worked out. Now I have objects piled up in our bedroom and my husband keeps asking me when I’m going to make use of them. Hmmm…good question.

  7. amy@maison decor

    I had to laugh at the “stop throwing money away at HG”…yes, great advice. Little knick knacks are not gonna fix the big picture.

  8. Annie, bossy color

    Excellent post, Kristie! You’re so right about the accessories thing – you shouldn’t let the tail wag the dog. As for choosing the color early in the process, you mean choosing the palette, right – or the idea of what colors you’d like to work with? And then narrowing down specific paint colors after you’ve chosen the rug and fabrics? I find I make mistakes if I settle on a wall color too early –

    In any event, thanks for yet another great post!

  9. Barbara

    Great advice! For me. I find success taking EVERYTHING out of a room and starting over, adding the largest pieces…especially the pieces I can’t get rid of, first! It’s fun to try different arrangements. I use those furniture sliders (little pads that go under legs of furniture) to save my back and wooden floors! Yes, the art and accessories should be the last to go into a room and they all have to relate or work together. Less is more! Bless HomeGoods and TjMax, but they depend on those of us who think one more accessory is going to do the trick!

  10. Barbara

    Hi again, I shared your great post on my Facebook page. Thanks!

  11. Patsy Oveton

    Great tips, Kristie! I tend to start with a floor plan rather than a color scheme. With me, the color scheme sort of evolves. Happy new year!

  12. Lisa Moon

    Great advice, simply and beautifully stated. I couldn’t agree more!!

  13. Medford Oregon Photography

    I love that black hutch with the yellow wall behind it! Of course, it’s really the white everywhere else that makes the yellow and black look so nice. Good point, thank you for sharing!

  14. Laura @ TheTurquoiseHome

    I sooo agree! This is why after 10 months I still have not hung a single thing on the walls in my dining room or living room. I moved in 10 months ago and I still don't have all of my furniture (small budget). So, until every piece of furniture is in place, and the walls are painted to color I want, the picture frames and other accessories will hang out in my closet. 🙂 Build it one step at a time, in the right order!

  15. Carol Daniell

    Hi Kristi, Me again, Carol of the two big screen TVs. I agree totally about getting carpet after the walls are painted. I stepped out of my usual box, and decided to go a lovely gold-yellow on ceiling and walls, almost throughout the house. It was really different from my usual blue and green, and nobody believed it, but with the white crown molding, and colorful pictures, I felt comfortable. I had a carpet sample, showed it to my husband, the big screen TV guy, and he went to his friend the contractor, and arranged for the carpeting. Neutral beige, was where I was going with this. The day of installation, I was gone almost all day. I walk in, and the whole upstairs was a yellow-gold CUBE!!! He wasn't really listening to me when I showed him the sample, he picked up the paint chip, and matched the carpet to that, instead. Luckily our rescue dog, Molly, isn't house trained and soon she'll have it ruined.  NOT REALLY. I'm covering it with area rugs. Downstairs we're putting in porcelain tile, but I'm going with him to pick it out. Decorating with Mike is an adventure in itself. The two TVs are still up in the living room. I'll keep you posted.



  16. Connie@Connie Nikiforoff Designs

    Because I do a lot of small budget redesign, I start with what we have to work with and what we can get rid of. Then I work out a color scheme and the look they’re hoping to achieve. Often I’ll build the color scheme around a favorite item they already own and want to use. I totally agree…accessories last. Room arrangements can be tricky if their budget’s really small and we can’t get any new big pieces and have to work with what they own.

    I really don’t like it when I come into a project and have to work with a wall color even the client doesn’t like….especially on a new-build and the builder said “You have to pick all your paint colors now!” Yikes! I do the best I can and usually the client’s have been quite pleased….even though the budget is usually very restraining.

  17. Debbie Ball

    I am addicted to your web site and blog, and have gathered more friends and followers down here 20 mi south of the TN state line. It takes me 90+ minutes to get to the Cool Springs area…..do you ever do a consult down this far? I am willing to pay travel time, we have a 2000 sq foot patio home that is close to being paid off, but needs a few updates as it is 20 years old. My husband is nearing retirement, so money is a facor, but I love the quality of your work and suggestions……..Huntsville AL

  18. Brenda

    The blue green color in your living room above, is it prescott green?

    • Kristie Barnett

      Do you mean the traditional living room with antiques and art? No, it’s not Prescott Green – it’s actually Stratton Blue.

  19. Patte Lau/Interior Stylist

    If I am working with a client that is going to be purchasing new furniture & area rugs, I usually like a jump off point, such as selecting the high ticket upholstery items first, example being a sofa and accent chairs. From there, I would develop colors that would compliment the items. Perhaps I would pull a color from the patterned accent chair for the wall color or use it as an accent wall color. Its important to keep the undertones of the hues co existing with the furniture items.

    When working with a client that already has her furniture and a colorful area rug, then I would select one of the wall colors from her existing items (area rug, sofa or accent pillows) and use that to develop a paint palette.

    If I am selecting a paint palette for a new model home then I would select hues that would co exist with various color schemes. Keeping the colors more muted as background colors so what ever the home buyer ends up purchasing in furnishing, the wall hues will work with their pieces.

  20. Karen

    I want to take up the carpet in the master bedroom, most likely have the wood floors underneath sanded and refinished, then paint the walls, ceiling and trim. If I were just taking up the carpet I probably paint first but since the sanding will make a mess I’m thinking that the carpet should come up and the floors refinished before the paint. Am I correct?
    Thanks for the help.


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