I’ve been meaning to do this post for so long, but I wanted to share my thought process for designing and decorating a room. Whether you’re furnishing a bunch of rooms in a new house or just thinking about redesigning a corner in your bedroom, planning out your interior design ahead of time can save you both time and money. Here are the exact steps I use to plan and design spaces to look cohesive! First I’ll give you my tips and then I’ll show you how I followed the steps to put together a colorful toddler room for our son.
1. Come up with a theme, mood, or vibe for the room
While some people focus on identifying their decor style, I like to first think about what vibe I want a space to have. Although my decor style is mid-century modern global (a mix-up of MCM & global design), each room still has a different character depending on its function and the mood I want it to evoke. The theme or mood can be a color palette or it can be the textures/fabrics I want to use or it can be a feeling I want the room to evoke.
2. Start with one major focal point
Once I figure out what the theme, vibe, or mood of a room will be, I find a particular focal point to anchor my design around. This can be a furniture piece, an accent piece, or even a fabric, but I like to have one central item and work my design around that focal point.
3. Use Canva to create a mockup of your design
Ok so here’s my secret weapon — I always use Canva to create both mood boards and design mockups for the rooms I create. It’s such an easy way to test out different furniture pieces, decor items, and even paint colors to see how a room will come together. My favorite tool is the background remover — it makes layering decor and furniture pieces in a mockup so easy and is a great hack that makes me feel like a real professional interior designer!
So here’s how I used these steps to pull my son’s toddler bedroom together in our Indiana home:
The Vibe — Colorful & Educational
If you’ve been following me for any bit of time you probably have realized that I’m pretty color averse. I prefer to wear and decorate with neutrals. However, for my son’s room, I wanted to use a lot of different colors because I wanted to be able to use his decor to help teach & reinforce his learning of color. This vibe is very different from the vibe of his nursery in Kenya, which was safari-themed, which was carried over from our baby shower.
The Focal Point — Animal Alphabet Gallery Wall
I actually came across the idea for this gallery wall while looking for art for our bathroom. I was browsing Etsy’s Black Owned art section and found this amazing Black illustrator who draws animal prints that correlate with different letters. I decided that I would make an alphabet gallery wall to carry through my theme of colors and education because I want our son to learn his alphabet too. Plus he loves animals!
The Mockup — Designing the Gallery Wall & Finding Complementary Pieces
Creating a mockup for the room and the gallery wall meant that I was able to plan my art and frame purchases ahead of time and save my walls from what could have been dozens of tiny little holes. It took me a few tries to figure out how to arrange all the letters and took some time to screenshot each art print and upload it to Canva, but I finally figured it out virtually, which meant hanging everything up in real life could be done in a breeze! Then I was able to brainstorm additional furniture and decor pieces to round out the design.
The Final Result
And here’s how my son’s gallery wall and reading nook came out, and I was able to put together his entire room in just a few days because I thought it through, designed it around a focal point, and planned the design out virtually! If you check out the full reveal of his toddler room, you’ll see that the room isn’t exactly like the mockup — the point isn’t always to buy the exact pieces, but to understand how different design choices will work with one another. For example, rather than buy this toy shelf in my mockup that was from West Elm Kids, I decided to buy one from IKEA and add legs to recreate the look for less.
Planning out my designs using these steps helps me create cohesive spaces without spending too much time or money. I have Canva designs for almost every single room of our house, whether just a mood board or a full mockup, and I always start with a mood or vibe and then identify a focal piece to build off of.
I hope this helped how you think about creating your own spaces!