Been thinking about updating a room in your home? Maybe you got a recent financial windfall, or your child has moved out and you want to start redeeming your empty nest rewards? You may decide to turn to a professional for assistance. But if hiring a pro isn’t in your budget or you prefer to DIY it, then this blog is for you. Read on and you’ll learn five deceptively simple, yet important things pros know that you can use to make your project a success.

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1.   Consider your purpose: This may seem painfully obvious, but you would be surprised how many people never get started simply because they can’t decide how they want to use their space. Don’t be one of those people! Start by thinking about how the room could make your life or your family’s life better. A game room for a tween or teen? A home office or craft space of your dreams? Or maybe you may need a dual-purpose room—a home office slash guest room. The possibilities are endless and only you know what would best serve your needs, so nail this down before you go further.

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2.   Size up your size: As you determine how to use your space, ask yourself how much space you need to adequately accommodate that use. For instance, if you are hoping to turn a newly vacated bedroom into a home office/guest room, make sure you have enough room for a workable work area as well as a pull-out sofa and small dresser. Imagine the needs of every user of the space to ensure your hard work leads to solutions that satisfy and don’t leave you, or your guests, frustrated.

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3.   Don’t shortchange lighting: Often the forgotten element in the room, lighting can make or break a space. For instance, if you want a studio where you can paint, plenty of natural light will be important. A functional work area may require overhead lighting, which every room does not include. Also, think about the number of outlets you need for task lighting like a desk lamp for studying or a floor lamp for reading by your favorite chair. If you’re trying to make a gamer or binge watcher happy, can your lights be dimmed or brightened to accommodate those activities any time of day?

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4.   You gotta have style: When it comes to interiors, feelings matter. So how do you want your completed room to feel? Subdued, so you can focus on a task at hand? Bright and fun, so your kids will want to invite their friends to hang out? Think carefully about that one. Calm, so your guests will be able to relax and rest easy? You will create your desired style by the combination of choices you make related to color, lighting, furniture, flooring, wall treatments, textures and accessories. The best advise here is to experiment and “live in” your choices while your purchases can still be returned.

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5.   Sigh, stick to your budget: Unfortunately, almost all of us have to work within a budget. If you’ve been saving so money won’t be a big issue for you, congratulations! But if you’ll need to pinch and squeeze and make tough choices, plan ahead and remember to leave a cushion for unexpected expenses that we all know will pop up. I’m a firm believer that you can make budget-conscious choices that deliver great results.  Doing so means knowing what you are willing and able to spend before you start.

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PRO TIP: Be sure to write down what you want to purchase with measurements and refer to that information when you shop. Nothing is worse than that awkward moment on your stairway when you realize the sofa sleeper won’t fit through your doorway. I can neither confirm nor deny if that has happened to me.

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PRO TIP 2: Bring home paint samples to try in the space before you have the friendly people in your local home improvement center mix a whole gallon. Paint a big patch of the new color and live with it through various times of the day. If you don’t like it, the cost of a sample jar is less painful to absorb than the cost of a gallon. I might have learned that tip through experience!

Most failed projects can be traced back to missing the mark on at least one of these five fundamental things. I hope that you nail all five and are able to turn your space into something most wonderful!

Now, what will you do next to love where you live?

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