Matt Light would be the first to tell you. There's nothing like a game plan when you're organizing a renovation.
Train your eye. "Buy all the home design magazines you can," says interior designer Betsy Speert. "Go through and tear out what you like." Over time, you'll see similarities to the rooms that appeal and your own style will emerge.
Embrace the tape measure. Speert is a stickler for a floor plan. "I don't know how you can design a room without one," she says. And to do a floor plan, you must measure. Then buy some graph paper, shrink the dimensions and play around.
Be prepared. What do you care if someone pokes fun at the pile of paint chips or fabric swatches in your purse? Use them when you're browsing at HomeGoods or Circle Furniture to coordinate furniture and accessories.
Find a jumping off point. At Circle Furniture, Jeffrey Taylor recommends, "Start with a fabric for the sofa. There are a million wall colors out there. It's easier to go from fabric to wall color than vice versa." HomeGoods' Arvedon suggests, "starting with an inspiration piece which could be as small as a patterned pillow or favorite piece of wall art. Remember decorating is all about finding pieces you love."
Shop around. Visit all types of stores and designer boutiques to see what catches your eye, then go to value conscious retailers such as Circle Furniture and HomeGoods which offer great furniture and decorative accessories for less.
Trust your taste. "Go with what you like, not with what your mother or your best friend likes," says Circle Furniture's Taylor.
Know when to hire experts. If you are planning to add wood flooring and repaint, save time by consulting with good contractors to establish a work flow and save time and money.