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How to Create a Design Plan: 5 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Start

I’m just starting the project of redecorating my home office and I thought I would share a bit of the process of how I work on a space and create a design plan. A lot of people have wonderful ideas of creating a more functional or more attractive room, but get paralysed by all the decisions and organization that goes into a project. Let me first take you through five questions to ask before you start that will get you going on the right track. Over the next few weeks I will be sharing with you the entire process of designing and decorating my office so you can see that you really can get that project you’ve been thinking about done.
Since we moved into our house about a year and half ago, I have put most of my energy and resources into decorating the main floor. It’s what people see when they come over so that’s of course where most of us start in a new space. My office, way up on the top floor of our house, doesn’t get a lot of looks from outsiders. So it has remained a perfectly functional space for me, yet sadly lacking any real design charm. It’s time to change that!
So here are the five questions I ask myself when starting a design plan.

  1. What do I have to work with? 

Here is a picture of my office right now. I’m a little embarrassed to show you what a state it’s in, but I’m hoping you can relate to a room that has been thrown together on a strictly functional basis and then has sadly been left that way. The room is located on the top floor and the slanted ceilings are the major issue in creating a design. I only have one wall that is of full height and the ceilings are low. There is blue carpet on the floor. Inhale, followed by heavy sigh. It’s not the flooring I want, but I’m not willing to replace the flooring at this time, so this will also have to be part of my design. Fortunately blue is a color used throughout the house and I happen to really like the shade (even if I don’t like carpet) so I can easily work the color into my scheme. It doesn’t make any sense for me to dream of a room with lots of high shelving on all four walls and gorgeous wood floors. You gotta work with what you’ve got!
2. What do you want to get out of the space?

For me, I want an office that is functional, inspirational and where there is a home for everything. Right now it is relatively functional (I have everything I need in the room) but it’s cluttered, mismatched and it is all kinds of awkward! And it’s really missing something inspirational in its current state. I want to be able to take photos of my work space for my blog, so some major work needs to be done to get a clean, flowing design that I will be happy to show off to others.
3.What do you need to change to make this space feel good and work for you?  In other words, what’s missing? What’s not working?

Storage is my main concern. I don’t have a lot of space so the storage will have to be very efficient. I have many shelves already but they are not ideally organised. I have tons of books, papers, project notes and I need a home for all of it. There are multiple subject matters that I work on simultaneously  (the blog, design projects, photography to name a few) and at the moment I have a pile for each of these topics on my desk. Yes, they are in piles! I need easy access to each topic, but preferably put away on a shelf.
Lighting: I need better task lighting and I want to have more attractive, statement lighting. The ceiling is very low and with the slanted walls I will have to get creative.
The walls are terribly boring and bare. There is no art and only a crude attempt of taping up inspiration pics.
-I’m missing a “wow factor” in this space right now. Going along with the last point of needing something interesting on the walls, I’m thinking about painting an accent wall with a gallery of prints.
-The little details of pretty desk accessories and some greenery are also missing and will be the final touch to bring the space to life.
4. What IS already working? What can stay?

The desk I’m using is our old dining table and it works very well. I love the wooden top and the size is great for me. The Alex drawers from Ikea (above) are an essential part of my office, where I store everything from scissors to art markers to washi tape. A definite stay!  The square Ikea Kallex shelves also work well so I’m going to keep them, and will replace the dark one with white to match the others.
5. What needs to go?

The square table is totally awkward and must go. Here is a case of wanting to use a piece of furniture just because you don’t want to throw it away. It doesn’t fit anywhere else in the house and it is a perfectly good table. Do I love it? No. Does it fit nicely into the space? No. Does it serve a purpose? Yes. I keep my planers on it (I have three: daily planner, blog editorial planner and my goals book for the year). As I mentioned before, there are already multiple piles of papers and books on my desk, so it’s convenient to keep these planners on a separate table. I look at them first thing every morning so I like having them on a table of their own. I’m going to have to come up with a new place for them when I finally let go of that table.
The tall bookshelf on the high wall also has to go. The dark wood doesn’t match anything else and it breaks up the wall. This is my one and only full height wall so that will have to be my accent wall, where I create my “wow factor”. The books will have to find another home.
So that’s it, these are the five essential questions to ask yourself before you start a design. Now I can clearly see what I have to work with in my office and what I need to change. I now have a good idea of what should go and what I need to add. All the while I have been pinning away, collecting pictures and furniture ideas for my new scheme, but the mistake most people make is to neglect the analysis before jumping right in and making changes.
Now I can start planning out my design. Stay tuned, next week I will be showing you how I go through the next step in the design process….

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