Assess What You Have to Work With

One of the first exercises we walk clients through when embarking on a redecorating project, is helping them determine what is “off” about their space. Along with this, we want to assess what they have to work with.

So where do you start? Begin from the outside in. As you enter a room, critique it. Look at its size, its shape, and where the light sources are, both natural and artificial. Look at the colors and the permanent features.

Once you have evaluated the structure of the room, determine what you like and do not like about it. For each thing that you don’t like, do you have the ability—meaning the time, investment resources, or patience—to change it? As an example, transforming a carpeted room to hardwood flooring is a major project.

My own home had a fireplace that the previous owners loved, but it just didn’t fit with my personal preferences. The hearth was high. The mantel was high. The brick was not a charming red brick that I could work with. Every time I attempted to create a family room in that space, I got stuck; I couldn’t pull together anything that I liked. Ultimately, I realized that no matter how much money I put into everything else in that room, the fireplace was always going to be a sticking point. It was time for an alternative solution.

Rather than painting the brick, which wasn’t going to give me the wow effect I was after, I spoke with a contractor, and we brainstormed how to alter it. The final solution was to put plywood over the top part of the brick, paint it, and put marble trim around the fireplace opening, with glass doors, to eliminate the brick completely. It wasn’t as expensive as I thought it would be, and it gave me the ability to create the room that I really wanted.

To help with this exercise, visit our site and download Worksheet #2 (“Evaluate Your Space”) at

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