Ask yourself a few questions before jumping into your design. Image: Katie Leede & Company Studio

As fun as redoing the rooms in your home can be, it’s also a little intimidating. After all, it’s not easy to take an old space and have it come out like something that could be featured on HGTV. There are so many different factors to consider. How do you even know where to begin?

In this case, preparation is key. Before you start on the design, you need to have a roadmap in place. By knowing how much you have to spend, what projects you’ll be working on and what the end product should look like, you’ll be able to get rid of all your doubts and guesswork. From there, bringing your vision to life will simply be a matter of checking tasks off your list.

If you’re stuck on how to put a plan together, don’t worry. We’ve created a list of five essential design questions you should ask yourself before starting your next project. Keep them in mind and we’re sure that you’ll be able to tackle your designs like a pro.

Consider function first in your designs. Image: Martha O’Hara Interiors

How do you want the room to function?

If you’re a regular reader of Freshome, you know we say this all the time, but it bears repeating: function comes first in interior design. Always. The reason is because – no matter how much your rooms look like they belong in the pages of a magazine – if they don’t work the way you need them to, you won’t be happy.

That said, when you’re planning a design project, the first thing you should consider is what you need your newly designed room to do. For example, in the picture above, you can see that in addition to the sleeping space, there’s a seating area that can be used for reading.

Ask yourself questions like: Will the space serve a single purpose or multiple purposes? Who will be using it most often? Does the person using it have any specific needs? What kind of storage should be there, if any?

Think about what you like in the existing space. Image: Pickell Architecture

What do you like about the existing space?

Before you start on a new project, it’s important to take inventory of the existing design. In particular, you should make note of all the things you like about the room. Not only will this give you a realistic view of your starting point, but it will also help you decide if there are any features that you can incorporate into the new look.

Ask yourself questions like: How do I feel about the flow of the space? Are there any furniture pieces or accessories that I’m willing to keep? Do I like the existing color scheme?

Also, make note of what you don’t like about the existing space. Image: Jamie Bush & Co.

What do you dislike about the existing space?

Just as you have to take stock of what you like most about the room, you also need to be frank about which features aren’t your favorite. However, you need to be realistic with this list.

We know it can be tempting to simply write off this step by saying you want to change everything. But, in this case, it’s in your best interest to stop and think about specifics. The last thing you want to have happen is to spend money on a redesign, only to realize that you’ve made the same decorating mistakes as last time.

Once you know which design elements you’re looking to change, take this exercise at step further and ask yourself why you don’t like them. If you can nail down the reasons, it may help you change these factors for the better moving forward.

Ask yourself questions like: Is this space meeting my needs currently? If my budget weren’t a factor, which pieces would I get rid of?  Is there a time when I’ve wished the room was different?

Decide if you want to emulate a particular style. Image: International Custom Designs

Is there a particular style you’d like to emulate?

Now, here’s the fun part: the style of your new space! After you have the template of your new design figured out, you’re free to move on to aesthetics.

Your first step is to gather design inspiration. Take some time to browse sites like Freshome and make note of any photos that catch your eye. In all likelihood, you’ll begin to see that your preferences match up to a particular decorating style.

Once you have a fairly solid idea of the look you’re aiming for, do some research on the types of design elements that are associated with that style. Knowing its key components will give you a better idea of how to recreate them in your home.

On the off chance that your tastes are particularly individualized, try making note of the specific components you’re drawn to. Then, consider using an inspiration board to get a sense of how they will all work together.

Ask yourself questions likeWhich types of décor do I always seem to gravitate toward? Have I been anywhere recently that I thought was particularly well designed? Have I put together any interiors in the past I’ve really liked?

Keep your budget in mind. Image: Jennifer Pacca Interiors

What’s your budget?

Now, you may be wondering why we put the budget after creating a wish list aesthetic. Simply put, it’s because we know that there is more than one way to create a signature look. Between thrifting and DIY projects, it’s absolutely possible to pay homage to a certain style without breaking the bank. You may just have to get a little creative.

First, though, you have to take a long look at your finances and figure out how much money you have to spend. Then, after you have a number in mind, decide how to spend it. Figure out which design elements are most important to you and research their cost. After you have that amount earmarked in the budget, you can play around with ideas on how to bring the rest of the look together affordably.

Ask yourself questions like: How much would I like to spend? What is my absolute spending limit? Should I spend more time setting money aside before starting? What are my big ticket items going to be?

Don’t forget to ask these questions about outdoor spaces, too. Image: Arch Studio, Inc.

The best designs start with a lot of preparation. After all, before you even think about picking up a paint brush, you should have a solid design idea in mind. You should know what you want the room to look like, what it will take to achieve your vision and how much everything will cost. However, if you’re a little intimidated by this task, we’re here to help. Ask yourself these design questions before starting your next project and you’ll have your plan of action. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you get stuck.  There are lots of interior designers who’s profession it is to help you accomplish your design dreams.  You can even visit some of your favorite stores and brands to find help like West Elm and Pottery Barn.

What design questions do you ask yourself? Are there any other factors of a design that you think should be considered? Tell us in the comments below.