Buying all the Wrong Stuff – Tired of Losing Money? Tip.

We have all done it.  We’ve all bought a piece of furniture or an accessory on a whim and got it home to discover it just doesn’t work in our space.

My very best tip when choosing furniture is to tape off the footprint of the piece prior to purchase (unless it’s super easy to return and you don’t mind) to make sure the scale is right for your space.

Next tip?  Paste the piece into a photo of your space to see how it looks (you can do this in Photoshop, Picasa, Google+, etc).

Let’s talk about our entry.  Since last we talked, I decided to go in a different direction.


Though I ADORE that vintage chair, I decided to do a dresser type piece rather than the chair.   In addition, the previous owner had sprayed Febreeze on it and I’m very allergic.  It just never completely dissipated.

What piece should I buy?  There were so many good ones on Craigslist.

One of the best ways to avoid wasting your money on a piece that doesn’t work visually in your home, though it may be the right size, is to use graphic software such as Photoshop to help you visualize the item in your space.

This is a dresser that I was considering for the entry.  The chair sold in a matter of 24 hours on Craigslist!


The hubby said he hated this piece.  I showed it to him a good 3 times, just in case.  Nope, still hated it.  I guess I was determined, so I then pasted it into the entry photo with Photoshop and colored it a metallic distressed blue.


Showed it to him again.  He LOVED it.  Now he could picture my vision of it in the space.  He actually went and picked it up for me that afternoon!

Note, the “mock up drawing” isn’t perfect.  It’s not supposed to be.  It’s quick.  If it wasn’t quick and a little messy, it may not be worth the hours put into it should we not like it.

We got the piece and it looks great.  I will be working on painting it this week.

How about another example of how visualizing via a graphics program helps?

My brother and sister-in-law, like most couples, have a hard time agreeing on how to decorate their home.  They have similar taste, but not exactly the same.  They go shopping and almost always disagree on what pillows and paint colors and such that they like.

Here is their breakfast room.  Like we were not too long ago, most of their pieces have been given to them.  They are on a tight budget, but want to add some touches to create a bohemian, eclectic country look.


And, the space next to it?


They did great with having an inspiration photo that they both agreed on.  It’s from Kathryn M Ireland’s home!


The great debate was about colors to paint the chairs.  Visits to the paint store were yielding much discussion, but not a lot of choosing. They just weren’t confident that this or that color would work. I suggested that they narrow it down by using Photoshop to see the chairs in various colors.

image clip_image002[9] image

They liked blue the best.

I also made a few other suggestions.  Maybe some botanical prints from a book torn out, tattered and framed.  My brother loves plants.


Maybe a suzani pillow or two with the same colors from the inspiration photo.


Paint the table as well.  Hang a chandelier.  Add a Persian style rug with reds and blues.  Moroccan lanterns in the next room over.  Ethnic pieces from “travels.”

I decided to also add these elements to the mock up drawing.  That way, they could get an idea of what I was envisioning, thanks to Photoshop.

Here is the image of the Breakfast room after I pasted some things in and changed the color of the table and chairs.


The art represented the botanical prints, but just in case they can’t visualize the prints, I also sent this.


Why each piece?  The blue and white vase because she has some china with those colors and loves it.  The art represents my brother’s love for plants.  The chairs and table color brighten the space.  The rug because it screams bohemian eclectic.  And, it brings in the navy of the sofa.  Yellow is brought in through the flowers.

I wanted them to be able to visualize how the two spaces could be tied together, so I included this image as well.  Remember, they can’t replace any large pieces – limited budget.


They didn’t want to paint the china cabinet due to it being a family heirloom.  So, we added color to the back of the shelves to match the breakfast room chairs.  We added the pillow.  Simulated an ethnic gold end table.  Added an industrial lamp for a further slowly acquired and put together feel.

Just so you don’t have to scroll up, here are the original images.

photo photo

Obviously, this doesn’t guarantee that something will look good in a space, but it’s a helpful tool.

This tool helped them come together with a vision and to visualize my suggestions for the spaces.

I fully expect this psuedo-design to further evolve with time, but this helps to make sure they are on the same page as a couple.  It helps them to see where they are heading.

That way, as they are out and about exploring stores, as they like to do together, they will have an idea of what pieces they need to complete their vision.   My sister-in-law said that when it’s visually laid out like this, she feels much braver and is willing to take risks like painting the table and chairs.   She can see how it will look rather than just randomly choosing a color and hoping it turns out right.

She also said she has a hard time being creative just in her mind, but when it’s illustrated like this in a “drawing” she can see it better and can go from there.

Does this help you envision things?  Do you use graphics programs to help you know if a piece will work in your home?  I usually do this with clients once we decide on a general space plan/ furniture layout.  This is our next step!


P.S.  Don’t forget that Olioboard is a great, free online program that helps you to visualize a space.


  1. Photoshop amazes me. I still don’t have it, but I have done some very rough versions to give me an idea. Usually I make the item I like large on my iPad screen, hold it up to the area I want it to go, and squint, ha! Very effective ;D

  2. Really great post Kristi! I use Olioboard and upload the clients room photo and go from there, but I honestly never thought of just using IPhoto ( mac) for the whole process..hmmm, might start playing.
    I totally agree, the envisioning part is the hardest for MOST people! Have a great week.

    • For actual clients, I like to start by drawing the room with my cad program in 3d. Then, add elements such as this in Photoshop. That way, it’s super easy to change wall colors and all and to view it from other angles. But, some clients don’t want to pay for the 3d so we use this method instead.

      The reason I don’t really use Olioboard is that you can’t change colors of items, remove backgrounds, etc. However, other things in Olioboard are easier. It’s certainly an awesome tool and they’ve done a great job with it! I think I’m just not a super experienced user and in the end, you use what you know.

  3. Great ideas, Kristy! I don’t use photoshop myself, but I love olioboards for casting a vision. I should probably learn photoshop . . .

  4. I think that painting that piece is going to turn out awesome and look great in the foyer! I’m terrible at Photoshop, but I really need to hone my skills for nifty purposes like this!

  5. I should do this but just always wing it…probably b/c my forte is cooking and not design. :) I was just thinking about the baby’s room and maybe having done too much variety in color. Guess we’ll see when it’s all finally pulled together. Just waiting on baby & a few custom pieces of artwork, then I’ll figure out where to hang the art and the room will be done.

    • Girl, if cooking is more your forte, your food must be crazy good because your design work is awesome. Isn’t it just part of the game to doubt yourself a little at times along the way. We all do it. But, some of my best ideas come that way.

  6. Great Post. Great suggestions for visualizing something in one’s space. thanks for sharing. Ginger:)

  7. My Photoshop versions look awful so that is no help in convincing the husband. I’ll ask for your assistance the next time I have a brilliant idea. :P

    I love the new dresser! Can’t wait to see it!

  8. Good second choice. An easy chair doesn’t make a lot of sense in an entrance. Do you need to paint it? It is really a nice classic style. Ann

  9. Kristy, I loved that chair as well & too bad about the scent issues but good for you for a quick re-sell. “Sense & Sensibilities,” Kristy makes perfect sense to me & who’s really to say what makes sense? Design, art & anything creative is all so very subjective. The eye of the beholder as they say. I don’t believe it really needs to make sense, however, I think it did. I’d love that reading spot actually for myself. That’s a beautiful table you snagged. In my opinion, the table needs the pop of color for that entrance, pretty without but better with. Can’t wait to see it when it’s done.

  10. I love photoshop for this! It’s so great for getting husbands on board with our vision. :) That chair was gorgeous, but I can’t wait to see your new dresser!

  11. I just thought of something that might be helpful to mention, Adobe Photoshop Elements is a great deal less expensive for those that don’t want to invest in something as powerful as Photoshop, under $70 I think. I’ve never used Elements but I think it would probably do the trick for most. I’m getting ready to upgrade again with my Photoshop which is always quite a purchase to consider as often as Adobe upgrades. If anyone does, make sure it’s either the Windows or Mac version depending upon your operating system. Just a thought.

    • Good point. And, there are free like Picasa that work pretty well. I actually got my update version of Photoshop while being a student in a summer course last year. Student prices are much lower.

  12. Ok…you’re genius! Thank you for stating the obvious and showing this ding bat how easy this step, not only IS but can save so much wasted time, thought and money! :)

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