8 Steps You Need to Know Before Redecorating Your Home


Here’s how to prioritize your game plan for your room makeover.

Here’s how to prioritize your game plan for your room makeover.

Houzz Contributor, Karen Egly-Thompson

If you have a DIY decorating project on your horizon but don’t know where to start, here’s a practical guide to help you navigate the process.

1. Commit to a Budget and Timeline

First, figure out your total project budget. If you skip this step, you’ll likely spend much more than you anticipated and make poor purchasing decisions you’ll later regret.

Also pick a date to complete your project by, even if you don’t have a looming reason to do so. Creating a complete-by date will fuel your project so it can take flight. Completing one stage of a project informs the next and the next. Otherwise, approaching your project piecemeal will delay completion, if you even complete it at all.

Set up a good system to keep track of your expenditures. I use an Excel spreadsheet, but even a spiral notebook can work for smaller projects. The key is to keep it updated.

Here’s an example of how I keep a running log of project expenses. While the main goal is tracking the total amount spent, I also indicate the store (which I left off here because stores will vary based on your location and preference), method of payment, general description and any notes, such as delivery fees — useful information that may come in handy later.

Keep all of your receipts together in one location. You can refer to them easily for warranty information and returns, if needed. I use a small zip pouch made for holding pens and pencils while I’m out shopping. After I return and enter them into the spreadsheet, I stapled each receipt to a piece of paper and store that neatly in a project folder.

See more tips on creating a decorating budget

2. Evaluate Your Needs and Lifestyle

Separating wants and needs is a hard one. Prioritize your needs by first creating a list of the furniture and accessories you envision going into your space. List any work you want to do, like painting or wallpapering, too. Then rate each item 1 through 5, with 1 indicating an absolute must and 5 reflecting a nonnecessity. Reorder the items on the list with the necessities at the top and the more wishful items at the bottom. Involve other family members in this process. They may identify overlooked items.

Also, be honest about your family’s lifestyle requirements today instead of at some far-off idyllic future date. For example, if the kiddos use your family room as a playspace, include toy storage on your list. You may have some child safety needs too. Also note any special concerns about pets, such as shed fur or the potential for furniture to get clawed.

3. Decide What Stays and What Goes

Based on your list, identify any pieces of furniture or accessories that you absolutely want to keep in the space. Remove the pieces you don’t plan to reuse; consider donating them if they’re in good shape or selling them online or through a local consignment store.

4. Draw a Preliminary Furniture Plan

If your project is small, this step may not be necessary. However, if you’re buying new furniture or just considering a new configuration, it’s extremely helpful to try out pieces in different locations to see what fits and what doesn’t. The last thing you want is to end up with a too-big piece of furniture. You’ll need a tape measure or laser measuring tool to measure your space and a scale ruler to draw it to scale. A simple sketch illustrating only the outside dimensions is all that’s necessary.

If you don’t have these items or don’t feel comfortable with drawing to scale, an alternative is to “draw” the outlines of furniture with masking tape on your floor or cut furniture-size shapes out of butcher paper to maneuver around on the floor.

Don’t forget about circulation space. Ideally, you’ll want to keep 18 inches between the edge of the sofa and the coffee table. Maintain 36 inches for comfortable general circulation. Since you may not have found specific furniture pieces yet and don’t have detailed furniture dimensions, you may need to revise the size of some furniture pieces as your project progresses. Nonetheless, this exercise is a good starting point.

Also measure your entrance door and the pathway to the room, including building elevators if you live in a high-rise. Bring these notes with you when shopping. If there are any delivery dimension concerns, you can address them then and there.

See more on how to get your furniture arrangement right

5. Concentrate on Big Items First

Focus first on the big-impact items, then concentrate on smaller accessories. Too often people get hung up on a small detail that can derail the flow of the bigger items. The idea is to work from large to small.

Find furniture. Unless you’re lucky to find the furniture you want in stock, most furniture takes eight to 12 weeks for fabrication. However, even in-stock furniture may not be delivered right away. If available, get a swatch of the upholstery or finish sample to help with other room selections.

Unless you’re comfortable working with a complex color palette, minimizing your scheme to two colors, as in the space here, will make shopping easier — and your space will look sharp and put-together.

Find furniture in the Shop section

Work the walls. Compared with any other design material, wall paint gives a room the most bang for your buck. I find it easiest to select a wall paint color or wallpaper after the furniture is selected. You have much more leeway with paint color choices than furniture upholstery. Plan to get your space prepped and painted prior to the furniture delivery.

Watch now: How to Paint a Wall Faster

Hit the ceiling. Color instead of conventional white on the ceiling is another cost-effective attention-grabber, especially if you have crown molding to separate it from the walls, like in this living room.

6. Move Toward the Mediums

After you’ve figured out your furniture layout and color scheme, focus on finding the midscale items that will pull your space together, such as an area rug. Your scaled drawing will also come in handy to see how prospective rugs will work with your furniture layout.

Window treatments like Roman shades and drapery can offer lots of style compared to run-of-the-mill Venetian blinds. They can minimize less-than-perfect windows and help save on energy bills, too. New window treatments don’t have to cost an arm and a leg, either. Ribbon-trimmed cordless shades like the ones shown here here can be ordered online for $100 to $125.

A feature light fixture, like the one in this dining room, can become a stunning design focus.


7. Save the Small Stuff for Last

Fill in your scheme with decorative accessories toward the end of your project. You’ll be able to see what areas need attention and have a better sense of scale, especially with artwork. With the furniture in place, you’ll also have easy access to key dimensions, like the clearance between shelves.

I also like to shop for table lamps, particularly lamps that will sit behind a sofa, after the furniture is delivered so I can see how all the heights work or don’t work together. Cord lengths and switch locations are also easier to evaluate when the furniture is in place.

8. Leave Room for the Unexpected

You may come across something surprising in your decorating journey that has special meaning or even adds a bit of humor, like these Hulk hand bedpost toppers. Don’t discount originality or quirkiness; it’s what makes your home truly yours.

Pros & Cons: Renovating vs Buying a New Home


Is it better to renovate a home or buy a new one?

Guest Post by Andrea Davis

After living in your home for a long time, you might decide it’s time to make a move. But if you don’t exactly have the budget for a new home, it might serve you better to remodel your existing home. How do you determine which is the better decision? Here are some considerations to help you make the big choice.

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • Is staying in your location really important? If you like the neighborhood you’re living in, you have the choice to renovate your home or buy a home in the same neighborhood.
  • Do you have the budget? In locations with affordable homes, you might lean towards buying new. In cities with expensive homes, it might be cheaper to renovate.
  • Can you renovate your home without changing the floor plan? It costs less to renovate your home — almost 50 percent less — when you don’t change the structural elements.
  • Will renovations increase your home’s value? Some remodels and changes increase a home’s value, while others are just money down the drain depending on your local market. You should always consult with a remodeling expert before you embark on big projects to see if they’ll add value.
  • What’s your long-term plan for the home? You shouldn’t make renovations to a home if you don’t have a long-term goal for it. For example, if you live in a two-bedroom house and plan to have a lot of kids, you’ll likely need to move sooner than later. Sometimes it’s just easier to move into a new home.
  • How does moving affect property taxes? Property taxes vary by county, and moving into a new home might mean an increase. Check with a real estate agent and the city itself before to make sure you wouldn’t be paying more taxes as a result of moving.
  • How is your mortgage affected by a move? Buying a new home could mean a lower mortgage, depending on market conditions. You could also end up with the same mortgage — you’ll need to see what real estate pros say and what your best deal could be.

Weighing the Pros and Cons

Once you’ve answered some of these questions, you might be leaning more towards one decision than the other. If you need more information on renovation versus buying a new home, here are some of the pros and cons of both decisions.


Selling your old place before searching for a new place can be a long, extensive process with an exciting result. And it can be both stressful and arduous if you don’t approach it correctly. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages to weigh in the process:


  1. New beginnings: You get to start over in a new place — whether it’s down the street or in a new neighborhood, city or state — beginning again with your family and belongings. You get to meet new people, decorate your new home and settle into a new landscape.
  2. Financing options: Once you’ve bought a house the first time, it’s easier the second or third time around to go through the paperwork and purchase process. Your agent will help with title, insurance, taxes and finding a quality lender to help you buy the house.
  3. Income taxes: Depending on your state laws, selling your old home could land you extra money in your pocket without added taxes because of the capital gains exemption (which is up to $250,000 and $500,000 for married taxpayers). There also are eco-related tax credits available if your new home qualifies. You should check with your real estate agent and tax filer.
  4. High costs: Selling a home involves paying your real estate agent and other fees throughout the process. It’s long, complicated and expensive, and you have to be willing to go through it to acquire your new place.
  5. Moving: Moving can be a problematic process because you always find stuff in your old place that you never used. That leads to sorting, throwing away and trying to pack everything within a short timeframe. It’s added stress that can be overwhelming at times.


  1. High costs: Selling a home involves paying your real estate agent and other fees throughout the process. It’s long, complicated and expensive, and you have to be willing to go through it to acquire your new place.
  2. Moving: Moving can be a problematic process because you always find stuff in your old place that you never used. That leads to sorting, throwing away and trying to pack everything within a short timeframe. It’s added stress that can be overwhelming at times.


While your current home may seem drab at times, remodeling the space allows you create new spaces, update its function to meet your needs and create an ideal home, depending on your budget. However, it comes with a lot of disadvantages that may or may not be worth the investment.


  1. Costs less: The cost to remodel your home is less than buying a new home because it’s on a room-by-room basis. You don’t have to remodel everything in your home, which means your budget can flow with what you need to do. Moreover, there are ways to save money on your renovations so that you get a great end product without spending a fortune.
  2. Personal touch: Renovating allows you to change your existing home to meet your personal expectations and desires, as compared to buying a new home that may have a few features you want but not at all. Why spend hundreds of thousands on a new house and update it when you can keep your old home and update it a little at a time?


  1. Not for major overhauls: If your home needs a complete do-over, then a remodel isn’t for you. It’s not worth the investment to spend thousands of dollars to change every single room in your home when you could buy a new house with all of the updates. It’s better to renovate a few rooms in your house rather than all of them. It’s also not worth it to remodel your house if you’re trying to downsize.
  2. Financing issues: Remodeling requires a homeowner loan, family loan, payments to contractor or vendor loans. You must have home equity, so if you haven’t lived in your home for a long time, it could be hard to get approved.
  3. Construction: Remodeling means your home will be in shambles for days to weeks as the room is updated. You can choose to stay in a hotel — which means spending a few extra dollars — or stay in your home. It’s a bit stressful and loud — and it requires patience, which not every homeowner has.


What’s the best decision for you as a homeowner? Is it time to make the move into a new home, or is yours just in a need of a few fixes? Whichever you choose, get the finances, paperwork and appropriate professionals lined up before your proceed.

Andrea Davis is the editor at HomeAdvisor, which connects homeowners with home improvement professionals in their area for free. Connect with Andrea on Google+

Cover image via palm custome builders

Home Affordabiltiy

house dollar sign
Look at home’s affordability, not sale price

In today’s real estate market, house hunting for an “affordable” home can be quite a challenge. However, too many potential homebuyers focus their thinking solely on a home’s $ale price without considering its overall affordability. The fact of the matter is, with today’s extremely low interest rates, homes today frequently offer more affordable mortgage payments than was the case when rates were high. In many of Canada’s major urban centers, home payments can sometimes even be more affordable than rents.
To evaluate whether a home is truly ‘affordable’, you need to weigh your payments against your projected expenses. Start by determining your budget, i.e. what you can easily afford to spend on a home and its related expenses. Remember, the key word here is “easily”. Be realistic and ensure that your plan affords you with sufficient resources to enjoy it with peace of mind.
The next step in the process is to determine the home’s carrying costs. Need some help here? Everything you need to develop your budget is just a mouse click away at www.coldwellbanker.ca. Visit our buyer information center and click on for an affordability calculation and helpful information on mortgage financing. To be accurate with your mortgage calculation, you can talk with a mortgage broker who will pre-qualify you to what a bank will be willing to lend you. After you’ve determined your mortgage payment, be sure to include other monthly costs, such as property taxes, home insurance, heating costs and other utilities. Then add a figure to cover yearly maintenance and upkeep costs.
Your budgeting process should also make allowance for a “contingency fund” to cover unscheduled expenses such as a major repair. You don’t want to start out with a budget that’s so tight, there’s no room for life’s little surprises. Remember too that budgeted costs may vary widely from the actual costs that may occur, so be generous when estimating expenses.
One of the best ways you can ensure that the carrying costs on your home are affordable — and stay that way — is by keeping a low mortgage rate over a prolonged period. With today’s low interest rates, you can do that by locking in your mortgage for one of the longer terms available. Also, by pre-qualifying for a mortgage, you can find out up front what your maximum mortgage payment might be, even before your home search begins. You can even lock in an attractive rate for an extended period, so that your rate is protected while you’re still looking for the home that’s just right for you.
Your Coldwell Banker Slegg Realty real estate professional can give you some good advice on creative financing and all the other aspects of homeownership. Why not ask for some expert advice? There’s no obligation to you, and you may just find that buying a home is more affordable than you may have ever thought.

Real Estate and Mortgage Career Night!

Mortgage and Real Estate Career Night – Join Us For A

FREE Educational Evening!

Presented by Coldwell Banker Slegg Realty and Dominion Lending Centres Slegg Mortgage 3194 Douglas Street, Victoria BC, V8Z 3K6

Who You Are:

  • Considering a career in the Real Estate/Mortgage Brokering industry
  • Currently enrolled in the applicable course
  • Someone with excellent interpersonal skills, who enjoys the challenges of working with clients from all walks of life
  • An independent worker who is willing to learn
  • Excited about the potential to be your own business and build your own brand of success
  • Organized, trustworthy, and punctual
  • Self-motivated and willing to take ownership of your own growth

What You Will Gain From Career Night:

Presentations from Mike Soderberg (Slegg Realty) and Dan Waterman (Slegg Mortgage) outlining:

  • Licensing information: pre-and-post-licensing course information
  • Associated costs and benefits of working in the real estate/mortgage brokering business
  • An accurate picture of the ins and outs of the profession
  • What to look for in a brokerage company


Please RSVP (preferably via e-mail) to Mel Satyro, Broker Services Administrator – Slegg Mortgage no later than 12:00pm on January 30th, 2014.

Email: victoria@sleggmortgage.com
Phone: 1 (250) 590-7532
Toll Free: 1-866-383-6015

We look forward to answering your questions about the real estate and mortgage brokering industries.



Luxury Real Estate Properties I Like To Daydream About

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

I’ve caught myself daydreaming at my desk about the coolest, most beautiful real estate I’ve seen online in the past few weeks. I present to you (in no particular order) my picks for the top 5  pieces of luxury real estate available on the market today.

5. The Gables Estate, Vancouver BC (List Price: $12,800,000.00 (CAD))

8 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, 10,402 square feet of living space on 4.25 acres of land

The Gables is the largest estate property in Vancouver, and was built in 1929 for the President of BC Electric. It has only ever had two owners, and has been carefully maintained over the years to impeccable standards. The Tudor style home is situated on the prestigious South West Marine Drive, and boasts everything from a grand foyer, formal dining room with a fireplace, a colossal enclosed solarium, spacious kitchen with state of the art appliances, luxury master suite with a gorgeous master bathroom, five guest suites, maid’s quarters, a huge games room with a panelled “gentleman’s” billiard table, and tons of additional storage space. The house was built to be bright and lively, with all principal rooms featuring a pristine vantage point of the Delta and Vancouver Island views. As if that isn’t enough, the outdoor gardens are host to tranquil garden vistas, and the upper level of the estate grounds offers potential for formal gardens and pool, while the lower level could offer additional recreational facilities.

Though a beautiful piece of Canadiana and land, the annual property taxes would set you back about $38,413.00; however, if that price tag doesn’t terrify you, the property is still available and listed through Sotheby’s.

Click here to view the listing and some more detailed information on the Gables Estate.

4. Sea Side Paradise, Mallorca, Spain (List Price: $61,085,190.00 (CAD))
10 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms, 37673.69 square feet of living space 

First thing’s first – any luxury property that is also situated on an island gets instant bonus points from this girl. This sea side villa is located in Palma, Balares, Spain, and boasts views of the Bay of Polensa and Formentor. The living area is split amongst three floors – first, there is the ground floor with its double height entrance foyer, principal salon, library, cinema room, dining room, kitchen, staff room, office, guest cloak rooms. Moving up to the first floor, we find the master bedroom suite with 2 bedrooms, dressing room and 2 bathrooms plus private sitting room, as well as a guest suite with bedroom, dressing room and bathroom.  On the Garden floor, there are 5 bedroom suites (each with en suite bathrooms and private sitting rooms), a
bodega, and a spa consisting of indoor swimming pool, fitness room, sauna, Jacuzzi, Turkish bath, dressing rooms and toilets. The home was exclusively designed by Danilo Silvestri, and boasts top of the line furnishings and appliances, as well as impeccable style. This villa is situated on extensive gardens with a large outdoor swimming pool, heliport, garage for 10 cars, tennis court, separate staff accommodation, winter green house and a water lily pond. Pretty enticing, no?

Fun fact: with a 20% down payment, at an interest rate of 4.5% and 30 year term, the monthly payment on this house would amount to $248,441.25. Ouch!

Click Here to view the listing.

3. Crystal Bay Lakefront Estate, Nevada USA (List Price: $43,316,768 (CAD))
4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 8694 square feet of living space on 0.49 acres of land

Architecturally significant and spectacularly engineered to maximize views, this property boasts sheer walls of glass, a glass elevator, 6-story glass stairwell, hidden garden rooms & living stairs, 98′ lake frontage, steel pier & hoist, 2 buoys, 80 KW generator, a full gym & spa. The modern and bold architecture caught my eye instantly – I can certainly picture myself sipping my morning coffee while looking out at Crystal Bay.

Fun Fact: A 20% down payment on this property would amount to a cool $8,663,353.60 CAD.

Click Here to view the listing.

2. Fazenda Santa Helena, Sao Paulo, Brasil (List Price: $18,361,951.00 (CAD))
5 residences on a total of 12,547,641 square feet


Okay, so I’m definitely biased towards this property – my entire family is from Sao Paulo, and it is by far one of the most gorgeous places in the whole wide world. This property (actually, properties – there are FIVE residences on the massive sprawl of land) is marked by its magnificent views and is situated right in the natural rainforest.
The first house is a 4 bedroom and 3 1/2 bathrooms, featuring a kitchen, dining room, laundry room and a fire place for a total of total of 3,000 suqare feet.
The second house is a 2 bedroom and 1 bathroom, featuring a kitchen, living room and laundry room. The house is a total of 600 square feet.
The third house has 3 Master bedrooms, 1 Guest bedroom and 4 bathrooms. The home features a kitchen, living room, laundry room and a fire place, with a total of 1200 square feet.
The fourth house is a 2 bedroom and 1 bathroom with a kitchen, living room and laundry room. The home is a total of 600 square feet.
Finally, the fifth house is a 1 bedroom and 1 bathroom which has a kitchen and living room contained within 500 square feet.
Additional features include a dog run, pool, jogging trail, soccer field, clubhouse, lake privileges and magnificent views. I could certainly enjoy a caipirinha in any of the residences, but I think it might be just a touch out of my price range. Gorgeous property in a beautiful part of the world, nonetheless.

Fun Fact: this property was used in the filming of a popular Brasilian Telenovella (soap opera) called “Escrava Isaura”.

Click Here to view the listing

1. Historic Centre Apartment, Venice, Italy (List Price: $4,469,648.00 (CAD))
4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 2660 square feet

My fiancé and I recently spent a week in Venice and absolutely fell in love with the city. We stayed in a pied a terre in the centre of the city and spent the entire time musing about how nice it would be to one day own some property there – while this one may be a touch out of our reach, it is still something lovely to daydream about. This penthouse apartment is located in the historical centre of Venezia, and is within comfortable walking distance of shops, entertainment and historical landmarks.
The 247 square meter apartment lies on the third and fourth floors of a recently renovated building, complete with an elevator.
The main floor is made up of an entrance hall, a study, a living room with a fireplace, a dining room, a kitchen, three double bedrooms, a master bathroom and a second bathroom. This floor also includes a large, comfortable terrace for al fresco dining in the evenings. The attic floor, with its sloping ceiling, is divided into a large living room, a study/bedroom, a small room with a bed, as well as a bathroom and two closets.

Fun Fact: Purchasing in Venice means investing with guaranteed yield with its 18 million yearly visitors. The Penthouse is therefore an excellent investment, particularly for those wanting to vacation there a few times a year and capitalize on the property’s potential by renting it out to clients looking for a luxury pied a terre.

This one tops the list for me, personally. Oh, hubby – we have some saving to do!

Click Here to view Mel’s dream home

Have a great week :)