Now that you know the look want for your abode, the next step is to decide which room to start on. I suggest the living room because, as a single person, you’ll find that this room is the most important one. It is where you will do your entertaining (at least initially…). It is the room everyone will see. And it’s probably the largest room in your living space. If it isn’t, it should be.
To begin, purge the items that don’t fit with your new style and any items that you are using as furniture that are not furniture. Milk crates are not bookcases. Neither are cement blocks and plywood.
If your TV or computer is the centerpiece of any room except your office, move it into a corner, or out of sight into your office or an armoire.
Get rid of plastic Venetian blinds or horizontal Venetian blinds of any material. It’s best to avoid Venetian blinds completely. And open your (new) shades! Let the sun shine in! (What is it with the cave-like existence of geeks who avoid the light of day?)
Choose lighting that can be varied for mood. For example, if you have good overhead light in your living room, get a floor lamp with a three way bulb to dim the lighting. No woman is going to want to make out on your couch under bright morgue lighting.
Next find a piece you absolutely love, whether it’s an item you already own or one you have your eye on to buy. This could be an art print, an area rug, a couch, a mirror. One thing you would never get rid of. Use this piece to build the room around. This does not mean this piece has to be in the center of the room. In fact, it usually won’t be. You are using this piece to inspire you. If it’s an art print, use the colors in it to determine the color of your walls and couch. If it’s a large circular mirror, use its shape to guide the arrangement of the furniture and the shape of the furniture itself: pick a curved-backed couch or a couch shaped like a crescent moon to repeat the circularity of the mirror, or repeat the mirror theme with a glass or mirrored coffee table. You get the idea.
But do not make everything “match-y.” Vary the height of objects in the room. It’s pleasing to the eye to have different heights for the floor lamp, chair and couch backs and bookcases. Also pleasing if variety in the use of materials: pair a leather couch with velvet-covered side chairs.
Right now, pick a loved piece to build your room around. Write down the furniture, artwork, lighting, etc. that you need. If you like, pull out a piece of graph paper, measure your room and cut out pieces of graph paper to symbolize the furniture you want in your room. (Or see http://floorplanner.com.) Use the graph paper to figure out how to arrange your furniture. Allow at least two feet around furniture for walkways to other rooms or to get to other furniture (the bookcase, the couch, etc.).
Up on Tuesday: Tips on making your place user-friendly.