DIY Home Decorating: Failing to Plan Means Planning to Fail

We have all either been there or witnessed the scene unfold on television or in a movie. You know, that scene when a family piles in the car ready for what appears to be a trip of some length. As the car leaves the driveway someone turns to Dad (usually driving) and inquires about directions to their destination. In a voice just a bit more confident than is necessary the father figure replies that they need not worry as he knows exactly how to get where they are going. Sadly we all know that this scene usually ends with the family stranded in some dark and foreboding location with Dad still convinced he knows where he’s going.

Modern GPS technology has all but eliminated this archetypal scene from current film or television situations but the larger issue remains. In many very modern situations, GPS notwithstanding, making a real mess of things can still result when adequate planning is forgotten or ignored.

Such is the case with DIY home decorating projects, the subject of my thoughts today. A quick visit to some of the growing industries most popular online chat and advice rooms will turn up a shockingly large number of questions which have to do with spacial layouts, furniture arrangement, room organization and scale, proportion and size questions. One pleading post simply said (after offering a photo of a minuscule living room and a much too large sofa) “please, can anyone help me arrange my living room so that our new sofa will fit”. Sadly, in this case, even a shoe-horn would not help.

So what’s a self-empowered, modern homeowner to do?

In a word I would say ‘plan’, which in this instance means create a scaled floor plan of the room in question and, in similar fashion, measure any and all existing furniture pieces you intend to place in the room. If your situation requires the addition of new furniture to the room the same applies; measure first, purchase second. Only after understanding, on paper, the ramifications of that over-sized sofa can you proceed with confidence knowing that it will both fit and look attractive in a balanced and pleasing manner.

Many will protest that this type of floor-plan is for professionals and that mere mortals can’t hope to aspire to such technically challenging tasks. To this I say phooey.

Here are three options (the first two are free) to place in your hands the floor plan you need to begin your decorating project on solid ground:

1. Graph Paper and a Straight Edge. This old-fashioned method still works, if you are in a pinch. Graph paper is marked in quarter-inch increments. Take a measuring tape and walk the length and width of your room. Count boxes on the graph paper to coincide with the measurements recorded from your measuring tape. A simple rectangle or square will suffice but will give you documentation of the space you have. Smaller squares and rectangles will represent your existing furniture pieces and in no time you will have an accurate representation of your room. Study this. Commit this to memory and make no plans or purchases without consulting your plan.

2. Online Apps. Here are two high quality applications

Online Vs Store Home Decor

The internet has opened up a whole world of possibilities for lovers of home décor. Suddenly you are able to connect with and be inspired by artistic visions being created in almost every country in the world. You can spend hours, days, even weeks pouring over the various designs, comparing prices, and just enjoying the world of decorative beauty.

However there is still a lot to be said for actually getting up and going to a store to shop for your home décor products. In a store you can actually touch and feel what you are buying. You can pick it up, run your fingers down its side, and know exactly what you are getting.


As far as price comparison shopping the internet can’t be beat. There are thousands of shopping aggregators which will line up prices on the same item being sold in hundreds of stores, showing you what the best deal is.

While the internet is great for pricing deals, you always have to factor in the cost of shipping. Smaller light weight items such as books should be a no-brainer, but larger heavier pieces may cost more. You also have to factor in whatever location the item is being shipped from, in comparison to your own address.

In this way, as far as price comparisons, you should look at both online and offline ads, and weigh in the cost of shipping to find the best deals.


Going to a store and actually being able to reach out and feel what a product is like in your hands is a wonderful way of connecting with it, allowing you to truly understand what you are getting. However, the fact that the items is sitting in a store, taking up space, space that costs rent, can drive the price of the item up quite a bit.

The price can be further inflated if you live in an expensive city, or are visiting an expensive boutique.

One way to combat this is to shop in physical stores, record the items that you like, and then search them out online. There is also an app for the Google phone, which allows you to scan the bar code of items. Once scanned the phone searches the internet and finds the same product, from all of the online and offline retailers offering it, along with comparative pricing.


One of the great things about the internet is that it has allowed a huge number of artists and designers to sell their work independently, directly to customers. This not only cuts out the middleman, but opens you up to a whole world of new products that would never otherwise have been available to you.

However there are also many old school artists and designers who are not computer savvy, and you generally won’t find their work online. To experience their creations, you actually have to go out into the world and track them down at flea markets, craft shows, and boutiques.

If you are looking for something really unique, generally you should avoid commercial areas both online and offline. Whether it’s a local shopping mall, or a giant web store like Amazon, you won’t really find anything different there. They specialize in buying popular and timeless items in huge quantities and selling them at relatively low prices. In general, they have no interest in carrying new products that don’t already have a following.

For interesting finds you can try places like eBay, or Etsy. These are like online flea markets where artisans gather to share there wares. You can also just use a general search engine, rather than a product search engine, to explore new and innovative design companies.

In the end you can’t really say whether online or offline shopping is better. They each have particular qualities, which make them both important and useful. The best way to shop for home décor is to use both methods, the one against the other, to compare and contrast and get the broadest range of choices available.

This article was written by Joey Pebble, and independent artist