Tag Archives: how-to

{Guest Post} Why You Should Change Your Window Coverings (and How)

The following is a guest post from Danielle Mcann of Melbourne Blind Company

When changing the window coverings in your home, you have the opportunity to completely change the look and feel of your home. You’ll be surprised at how quickly new blinds or curtains can change any living space, from a change of style to just a change of colour, it’s like a small scale renovation.

Before you choose your windows’ new look, there are a few things you should think about first. Whatever the reason you are deciding to update your coverings, perhaps they are outdated or broken, or maybe you just want a different style or colour, you should think about the things you dislike about your current window coverings and decide on what it is that you want. Perhaps your current curtains let in too much light, so you might want to consider changing them to thermal lined blinds, like these from the Melbourne Blind Company,  ensuring that light as well as heat and cold don’t enter the room through the window. This is also a great way of naturally controlling the temperature in your home, which helps reduce energy costs.


Perhaps you want to take advantage of natural light during the day but keep prying eyes at bay, you could try dual roller blinds which have both a sheer and block-out blind in one, giving you added versatility. They also create a more streamlined look, adding a modern touch of simplicity to any home.

sunscreen 2Source

If you are busy keeping up the family home, you probably want an easy option for your kids rooms as well. Something that doesn’t dirty easily, a window covering that is functional and tough wearing perhaps? In this case, a roller blind could work well as they come in a variety of colours, allowing you to customise the look of your child’s room, separate but complimentary to the rest of your home.


There are so many options when updating your window coverings, but with a few helpful tips in mind, it should make the process a little easier. Just remember to consider style and functionality, you’ll be sure to find the right blinds for you.

Thanks for the great post Danielle!


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Decorate Smarter! How To Create Your Decorating Project Game Plan (Part 3)

A project management tutorial for starting and staying on track with your redecorating projects

project management, interior decorating, interior design, interior decor, chicago redesign

In Part 1 and Part 2 of Decorate Smarter! How To Create Your Decorating Project Game Plan you acquired some useful tools for managing your decorating project: a Style Guide, a Floor Plan and a Budget. Now I’ll discuss creating a Design Schedule and using your new tools to complete your project.

Creating a Design Schedule (aka To-do List) and Project Completion

When thinking about the many things you need to get done for your decorating project, nothing helps more to stay focused and not feel overwhelmed than a Design Schedule. Creating this To-Do List will allow you to break tasks down into manageable steps and reachable goals. Plus, it feels awesome to cross things off a list and exclaim “DONE!”

{Design Schedule}

1. Set-up: As I mentioned in Part 2, I prefer using Excel for my spreadsheets, but you can use any spreadsheet software you are familiar with and have available, or even set this up by hand using lined paper.

project management, interior decorating, interior design, interior decor, chicago redesign

*Note: If you do not have any time constraints, and want a less complicated version of this schedule (a simple task list), leave out the “Lead time” and “Deadline” columns. I would still suggest noting vendor and contractor information for future use.

2. To-Do Items:

  • The easiest way to start your Design Schedule is by using your Budget line items. Notice the highlighted lines above – these are imported directly from the example Budget in Part 2. Now you will break down each line item into tasks that need to be completed, using the following categories:
  • SAMPLE – get material swatches and finish samples
  • PURCHASE – complete orders, and contracts, or make in-store purchases.
  • INSTALL – product deliveries and installations
  • Notice that in my Design Schedule I actually noted each task with it’s category, for the purpose of illustrating my point. You obviously do not need to do this but I find that it is helpful in thinking about what needs to be accomplished. Also, be specific! The more direct your schedule, the less overwhelming the project will feel.

3. Lead time and Deadline: Track product lead times and delivery dates. This is especially important if you are working within a fixed time frame (for example you need the first floor done by Grandma’s birthday bash), as discussed in Part 2.

  • Figure out your lead time (the amount of time from when you place an order to when you receive the order).  If you’ve done any on-line shopping you should know that if something ships in 3 to 5 days, it doesn’t mean you are getting it in 3 to 5 days. Make sure you inquire about the amount of time a company takes to process orders and actually ship something out (That is your actual lead time).
  • Work backwards from your end date – If Grandma’s party is in 6 weeks from today’s date, and the lead time for the couch you want is 3 weeks, then you need to finalize your purchase three weeks from now. However, if the couch you want is going to take 3 months for delivery, you may need to reconsider, or find a temporary solution (like a slipcover).
  • If you like a visual reminder of your deadlines, I would suggest setting up a Calendar. Use whatever method works best for you (Google calendar, a wall calendar, etc.) but you need to be able to look ahead (it’s best to be able to view a month at a time). If you are looking for some suggestions, read this article about two different Calendar apps that are integrated with a task list.

Let’s look at an example:

project management, interior decorating, interior design, interior decor, chicago redesign

  • Sample – I will need to select a fabric for my couch so obviously I need to look at some options in order to make that selection. I have decided to purchase my own material so I add “Order swatches in floral pattern” as a to-do item.
  • Purchase – After selecting a fabric from the samples I viewed, I will need to finalize my order with the upholsterer. Before I can do this I will need to confirm the details of the quote I received, including how much material I need to provide. I then need to order the material from my supplier, making sure it will arrive in time for the upholsterer to begin their work.
  • Install – I will need to pick-up my couch from the upholsterer once it is completed, so I need to arrange for delivery from the shop to my home.
  • Deadlines – My deadline (Grandma’s Party) is scheduled for May 25th. I want to have everything done by the week before, so May 18th is the date I will be working from. If I start working backwards from that date, I can determine that I need to finalize my order by May 4th, which means I need to have my material ordered by April 24th, and my samples ordered by April 21st.

{Project Completion}

1. Use the new tools you have at your disposal to move forward with finalizing your selections (i.e., Go shopping!!). Now you can easily make decisions of whether or not a piece “fits” – Does it fit in the room (Floor Plan), Does it fit in with your style (Style Guide), Does it fit into the budget (Budget), and does it fit into your time-frame (Design Schedule).

2. Realize that you WILL hit snags along the way – the fabric you want will be out of stock or the rug you love is suddenly on back order. Don’t get discouraged. Go back to your tools, figure out your driving factor (style, size, budget, time-frame) and come up with a solution accordingly.

So now, one final Congratulations! You are are all set to create your decorating Game Plan and begin your design project. If you have any questions about this series of posts or would like further advice please feel to email me or leave comments. I look forward to hearing from you!


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Decorate Smarter! How To Create Your Decorating Project Game Plan (Part 2)

A project management tutorial for starting and staying on track with your redecorating projects


In Part 1 of Decorate Smarter! How To Create Your Decorating Project Game Plan I discussed how to start your project by creating three useful tools: a Style Guide, a Have/Have-not list, and a Floor Plan. Now I’ll move on to probably the most important tool you’ll need for your project, and that’s a budget.

Determine and Set-up your Budget

Facing the realities of your budget can be one of the scariest aspects of an impending redecorating project. But by being honest with yourself and figuring out a monetary Game Plan that works best for you, setting up a budget can actually help you stretch your dollar and get the most out of your purchases. So let’s begin!


1. Consider your time frame for completing your project

  • ALL AT ONCE – If you are looking to “get ‘er done” and complete your project in one fell swoop, then you will need to budget for the amount of money you can spend NOW
  • PHASED – if you need the downstairs, public areas redone by Grandma’s birthday, but the master bedroom can wait then you will need to make a phased budget. Or if you have an allotted monthly amount you are working with (instead of one lump sum) this budget plan will work as well. In both cases you will need to prioritize what you want and need done short-term vs. long-term or month-to-month.
  • LONG TERM – If you have no time limits and are willing to wait patiently while you save up for that perfect dining table (while you currently make due with a covered card table) make one budget for what you have now. Do only the projects that fit within that budget amount – perhaps recovering the couch or buying a new mirror for the Entryway. Make a second “wish-list” budget for the items that you will have to save for, and think about the amount you want to spend overall. I also suggest making a separate, designated savings account so you can track your progress and keep yourself motivated to reach your monetary goals.

2. Decide if you are using an interior designer or color consultant – this will obviously affect your budget as you will need to factor in the designer’s fees.

  • If you still feel you might need some help pulling your redecorating project together, then start “shopping” for consultants – research rates and interview designers you might potentially work with to determine if their work style is a good “fit”.
  • Paint color is the one area I would highly suggest consulting a professional unless you are 100% confident in your selections. The paint color can make or break a successful redecorating project. Get this one element wrong and the whole space will be affected – guaranteed. And on the flip side – the right paint color can do wonders in camouflaging the elements of your home that you don’t like, but can’t afford to change right now (like the icky 90’s tile in your bathroom). **Shameless self-promotion time – if you are in the Chicago-land area I can help you!**


1. Create your Budget Spreadsheet

  • Excel – I prefer to use Excel for my spreadsheets, so if you are familiar with the program I suggest setting up your budget worksheet like this example: Spreadsheet
  • If you are phasing your budget set up a sheet for each budget allotment (so by month, or by project as discussed above)
  • If you do not use Excel, you can use any other spreadsheet program you have access to and are familiar with. If you are looking for free spreadsheet software read this article for some good options.
  • If you aren’t very comfortable using spreadsheet software set up the same table shown above on ruled notebook paper. Make copies so that you have extras. As with Excel, use a separate budget sheet for each phase of your project.

2. Fill in your Budget Spreadsheet – list everything you think you are going to purchase, change, or make.


1. Start shopping! Now is the time to start filling in your budget with some cost estimates. Price out that leather Chippendale sofa you’ve been eyeing. Figure out how much material costs for the chair you want to reupholster (and how much you will need).  Get quotes for hanging the wallpaper and installing new carpet. You aren’t necessarily shopping for the exact purchases you might be making, but instead for an idea of what actual costs are.

2. As you are shopping think of everything in terms of the following costs (notice these are the columns you set up in your spreadsheet):

  • MATERIAL – Any purchased product (a piece of furniture, fabric for a DIY project, paint and supplies for the dresser you are painting, etc)
  • DELIVERY – Delivery and shipping fees. Just a note, if you order something on-line and the shipping fees are minimal, roll the cost into the total sum (with taxes) and include the purchase as one total sum under Material. However, let’s say you order something from Ikea and the cost is $100 for delivery, I would separate this charge out. It allows you to see the real cost of this and will help you to make an informed decision when it comes time to purchase – for instance you might decide to pick up your item or go with a different store that doesn’t charge delivery.
  • LABOR – anything you hire someone to do (a.k.a. contractors) – so the re-upholsterer’s charge, the painter’s fee, etc.

3. Now assign a value to each line item. Do the larger items (like purchasing a new couch and replacing the carpet) first and then fill in estimates or budget amounts for smaller items (like new bed linens and throw pillows). Remember that even DIY projects have costs – you will need to gather the materials and tools necessary to complete the labor yourself.


Your goal is to end up with a guideline that will inform your actual purchases, so after filling in a cost for each line item, assess where you are with your budget. If you are over budget determine what you are willing to change – paint instead of wallpaper? Less expensive couch – perhaps fabric instead of leather? Or maybe you need to change your time frame and be willing to save up for that must-have piece that is out of budget right now.

I know it sounds like a lot of work, but in the end you will be so happy you took this step in preparation for your redecorating project. Knowing what your budget is and being able to stay on track with your monetary goals definitely means one less thing to worry about. Now you can focus on creating the beautiful home you want and deserve!

Well, congrats again on making it through another step towards creating your decorating Game Plan. Up next – using all the tools you’ve acquired so far to follow through with and complete your decorating project. If you’d like to be notified via email as soon as this post is available, sign up to follow my blog!


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