Welcome to week three of How to Create a Decorating Plan.  This week, we’ll cover Step 3 – Decorating in Layers – Layer 1 The Bones of the Room. Let’s look at the ‘bones’ or structure of the room.  This is what you get when you buy a home and what you have to leave behind when you sell it.  It’s an ‘empty’ room. No furniture. No furnishings. Just the bare bones.  We need to understand the room in order to decorate it.

Once you have your decorating vision, it’s very tempting just to race out and start buying furniture and decor, but before you do, let’s look at the ‘bones’ or structure of the room.  

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The Bones of the Room

The Bones of the room are part of the architectural framework of a room:

  • Walls
  • Floors
  • Ceilings
  • Doors & Windows
  • Architectural details – Cornices, fireplaces, staircases, paneling, picture rail, skirting boards and architraves.

“Even when I enter a space I have to design for a client, I listen to what the space says – the walls, the windows.  You can’t change what the space wants to be.”  Lella Vignelli, Italian Designer (1934-2016)

Consistency Creates Flow

These elements need to work with the architecture and overall style of your room and the rest of the house.  For your home to have a good flow, certain elements should be consistent throughout the home.  You might have hardwood floors in your living areas, and carpet in the bedrooms, but generally you would use the same carpet throughout the bedrooms so the house has a flow.  If you used different carpet in every room of the house it would be too busy and not coherent. 

To create good flow in your home, you may find it best to use the same or similar finishes throughout the entire home.

When you spend money on these items, you can’t take them with you.  They are part of the structure of the house.  If you are renting, you may be not be able to alter any of these elements.  If you are planning on selling soon, don’t over capitalise on these elements.  If it’s your forever home, go for it.  Have those deep decorative cornices you’ve always wanted, and replace the cheap builder’s grade doors with solid wood ones.

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Let’s look at the bones of your room:


Architectural elements in Wall spaces

  • Vertical panelling (VJ’s)
  • Horizontal paneling (shiplap)
  • Moulding and other wall panels
  • Rails – chair rail, dado rail, picture rail
  • Skirting board
  • Doors – style of door and door handle, Architrave
  • Windows – frame & hardware

Identify all the architectural elements in your room.  Decide which elements need to be consistent to give the house a good flow.

Canvas artwork by Finishing Touch Decor

Ask yourself:

  • Can you add or remove architectural features from the walls?
  • Do the walls of the room need to work with adjoining rooms?
  • Paint colours – what colour will the walls be?  Will you have a feature wall?
  • Will you use wallpaper in the room?  The whole room or just a feature wall/section?
  • Collect samples of paint colours or wallpaper to add to your moodboard


Paint is a decorating staple.  It can create a neutral background or quickly transform a room with a splash of colour.

Resene Paint sample pots and fandeck

When selecting paint colours, consider:

  • Paint can be tinted to match anything.  Take a sample of any colour into the paint shop and they can match the paint to it.
  • Paint doesn’t have to be the first thing you pick.  You might want to put together your decorating plan, and then choose a paint colour to match.
  • Is your wall colour the neutral backdrop to your decor or is it making a statement on it’s own?
  • Will you use paint as a feature wall/area eg: fireplace wall?
  • What colour will you use on your trims?  Architectural elements like skirting boards, and architraves often look better when painted the same colour throughout the house.
  • Choosing a paint colour can be daunting.  There are so many to choose from.  Get advice from your local paint shop and read how to use paint sample pots properly  Many paint companies offer an in-home colour consultation.  If you have samples and just can’t make a decision you can use my Decor Coaching Ask a Question service for help.
  • Choose the right paint – Get advice from your local paint store to select the right paint formulation and gloss level
  • There are a wide range of specialty paints available – textured, cement, metallic, wash, chalk paint, milk paint, lime wash

Further reading on paint:


Wallpaper is a great way to add colour and pattern to a room.  

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It’s not for everyone, but if you’re keen to add wallpaper, here are some things to consider:

Where will you use the wallpaper?  The whole room, a feature wall, or a section eg: below a dado rail.

Choose a wallpaper that will create the right mood.  If the wallpaper is screaming at you and you want to feel relaxed it won’t work.

There are so many wallpaper options out there so narrow down your criteria to make the decision easier:

  • Style or mood you are after
  • Colour that will work in the room
  • Pattern you can live with

Further reading on Wallpaper:


Flooring has a dominating effect because of the sheer surface area involved.  Usually floors need to flow through the whole house or have different zones, such as timber floors in living areas, carpet in bedrooms and tiles in the bathroom.

Timber floorsTypes of flooring

  • Timber – Hardwood, laminate, bamboo
  • Carpet – material, weave
  • Tiles – ceramic, porcelain, terracotta, vitrified
  • Other – Stone, concrete, vinyl

Decide if you will keep the existing flooring or replace it?

Flooring is often an expensive item and is disruptive to change.  If you polish floorboards or lay new flooring, you will most likely have to move out for a short time, or at least move all the furniture out of the room.

Collect samples of flooring or photos to add to your moodboard

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Ceilings are an area where we don’t usually give too much thought.

Ceilings can have:

  • Cornice – decorative, shadow edge, minimal
  • Decorative ceiling and Ceiling rose
  • Coffered ceiling
  • Timber beams
  • Arched or vaulted
  • Can add boards or beading
  • Bulkhead
  • Ceiling paint colour – is usually “ceiling white” but can create a dramatic effect if painted in a colour

decorative ceiling

Decide if you will touch the ceilings in your room or leave them as they are.

Decorating Plan – Step 3

Based on the lessons above, you can add to your decorating plan for the room.  Now your decorating plan will include:

  • Samples or photos of paint colours, wallpaper and floor coverings
  • You may update your moodboard to include these elements
  • If you are doing any work on the bones of your room, add it to your Action List
  • Start Your Shopping List  – Make it easily portable so you can take it with you when shopping.  Download the Shopping List Template from the Resource Library

Next week, we’ll cover Step 4 – Layer 2 – Furniture.  Have a think about what furniture needs to stay in your room and what you might need to find.  Make sure you subscribe to our weekly newsletter so you get access to the free resources and don’t miss a post.

I hope you are enjoying this series on how to create a decorating plan.  I would love for you to share it with a friend if you think they might like it.

How to Create a Decorating Plan