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how to quit procrastinating and get started decorating

by Yee-Fan Sun | 1 2

There are a never-ending number of excuses you can make to avoid turning your perfectly adequate but ultimately blah digs into a place that's unequivocally, decidedly, fabulously you. You don't have enough time. You don't have enough money. You don't have any semblance of style. You're waiting till you own, or till you're more settled, or till you're living solo, or with a honey; you're holding off till pigs fly. Whatever the rationale, it's time to stop procrastinating. Regardless of where you're at in life, there's absolutely no good reason in the world why you should be living in a pad that doesn't feel like a proper home. Here's how to get yourself motivated to start decking out your digs…

1 Take stock
When you're surrounded by a mish-mash of hand-me-down freebies that are there more for basic function than because you actually gave any thought to whether you liked them, it's hard to imagine how that bland white box of mismatched furnishings is ever going to look a real home. First things first, once you've made the commitment to start decorating that is: take a good, hard look at what you've already got.

Unless you have money burning a hole in your pocket, you'll want to use as much of what you already own as you can. Figure out what things you have that you love, which you can tolerate, and which you positively loathe. The first one's easy to deal with: these are your obvious keepers. As for the second two, well, that's where you'll have to do a little decision-making. A lot of ho-hum or outright hideous furnishings can be rendered pretty damn dandy with just a fresh coat of paint, some new hardware, a bit of reupholstering, maybe a simple slipcover -- in short, a little tender loving care, a small monetary investment and a free weekend. If the basic bones of a piece of furniture are good, it's probably worth keeping for now. Everything else -- anything that's pretty much unsalvageably ugly or broken, that is -- should be tossed ASAP. Donate it to Goodwill, your little sib's dorm room, wherever, but do whatever you have to do to get rid of the junk. Just because you got it for free, doesn't mean you should continue to let it take up space in your house.

2 Study up
Once you know what you're actually working with, it's time to start thinking about what you want to do with it all. If you've never before given a thought to whether your tastes run towards art deco or mid-century modern, Japanese minimalist or French provincial -- if you haven't a clue as to whether you prefer warm tones or a cool palette, even -- chances are good that you haven't a clue how to craft a vision for your ultimate dream pad. Get yourself educated.

Head to the library or your friendly neighborhood bookstore behemoth. You'll find a dizzying array of magazines devoted to homes and home decorating. While most of the actual advice you'll find in these periodicals and tomes is aimed at people for whom a cool $20,000 is a budget home makeover, don't despair. The idea here is to learn about what kinds of colors, textures, furnishings and styles appeal to you. Look around at your friends' homes too. Take mental notes concerning what you like about certain pads, what doesn't work so well for you, and why. Ask questions -- most people love talking about what they've done with their nests.

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