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11 Steps to a Well-Designed Room

By: Emily Lapkin
Design experts share their tips for creating a stylish space that is uniquely your own.
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Decide Your Room's Purpose

"When people have great rooms," observes designer Katie Leavy of Capital Design in Washington, D.C., "they put their television in there, their kids play in there, they'll even eat in there." If you've got the space, try to narrow things down and let the room's real purpose decide the decor. Decide, for example, if your room will be a living room that you'll entertain in on just a few occasions or a family room you're going to use every day. A room's purpose should be one of the strongest cues for the decor.

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Remember Who Lives There

Make decorating a no-brainer by choosing furnishings that are family-friendly. Will children use this space? Will pets play here? Interior decorator Jackie Glisson of Just a Decorator in Memphis, Tenn., notes that while silk slipcovers would be a sophisticated choice for an adults-only room, they wouldn't make it through one season in a space that routinely hosts kids and pets.

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Do Your Homework

Most designers want to see any photos you've earmarked from your favorite design magazines. In fact, one design company insists that all clients compile and share their favorite looks as a "homework" assignment. When you go back and look them over, these images tell a story of what you like and what your room should be.

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Keep Size in Mind

One of the biggest issues facing homeowners today is the ever-expanding scale of sofas. "When I'm called in to rescue a room, it's often because the furniture pieces really don't fit the size of the room," shares designer Jackie Glisson. The solution? Take out a measuring tape and a piece of graph paper. Draw a floor plan of your room to scale (let one square equal one foot, for instance). Or if you can find your blueprints, use them and make extra copies. As you consider buying additional pieces, mark off their intended location and make sure they'll fit before bringing them home. As a general rule, it's best to always match furniture's scale to the room's overall scale. An oversized sofa in a small room will look out of place and make the space feel cramped.

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