Robin Garceau - The Interior Designer: Before & After!  Where Do You Begin?

Friday, July 01, 2016


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Where do you begin?  You stare at a room and have no idea what to do with it.  It becomes your catch-all room and just keep the door closed.  Following are steps to start the process for a beautiful completed room. If it seems like an overwhelming task, take a deep breath and take one step at a time.  It doesn’t need to be done in a day!  Time block certain days & times to complete it. Make it a priority to finish organizing it in a week or two. Put a timer on & work on it for an hour every other day (like going to the gym). Whatever isn’t finished when the timer goes off will be worked on the next time. So what if it’s a mess, the door is closed anyway! If necessary, get help from a friend, family member or professional organizer.

STEP 1:  Clean Out & Organize.

If your room is filled with clutter, first step is to empty it.  That doesn’t mean you need to throw everything away!  Have 5 boxes:  THROW AWAY,  KEEP,  STORE,  PHOTOS,  & GIVE AWAY.

1. Start with THROW AWAY.  Discard all burnt candles, old, inexpensive knick knacks, palms shaped like crosses behind frames (ask your church representative as to the proper way to dispose of religious items) and old window treatments.  Get rid of anything you do not have an emotional connection to.  BE BRAVE!

2. KEEP items that will DEFINITELY be going back in the room.  Ask yourself before putting it in the KEEP box, can you live without it? 

3. STORE items that you can’t bear to give or throw away but you’re not sure about putting them back in your new room. This will take the emotion out of it.  You’re not throwing them away, you’re putting them aside for now.  Maybe they will have a place in this room or another room. Maybe not. You don’t need to make that decision right away.  Separate them and know they are there if you want them. (This is also great for kid’s rooms.  We all know that as soon as you tell them you’re getting rid of something, it’s their favorite thing in the world & they can’t possibly live without it!)

4. PHOTOS box is for all your family photos that have been in the same frames for the last 15 years.  But, like all of us, photos tend to be sacred memories of days gone by & you feel there’s no way you can get rid of them! Start by removing them from old, dated, unmatched frames (unless of course, it’s a vintage, beautiful frame with your grandmother’s wedding photo in it!).  Put the frames in the Give Away box. There are ways to show off your family photos without them looking like clutter.  One idea is to scan them onto a flash drive & upload them into a digital frame. Look for a nice large one such as an 8 x 10, sold in stores like Best Buy, Wal-Mart or on Amazon.  It’s easy enough to continue adding photos to the flash drive.

5. Finally - GIVE AWAY.  Donate unwanted, gently used items to charity.  Lamps, furniture, area rugs, window treatments, clothes, bedding.  Organizations such as Big Sisters of RI will pick up larger items if they are in good condition.  Refer to their website on How & What to donate.  

For even more information on organizing your home, check out fellow contributor,  Kristin Carcieri-MacRae


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Once the clutter is gone and the only remaining items are the larger pieces of furniture such as a bed, nightstands and dresser, or a sofa, loveseat and occasional tables, clean the room.  Dust,  wash the floor, vacuum the carpet, wash the walls, windows & window sills.  Hire a professional if necessary. It’s like starting with a brand new canvas!


Prepare a budget.  This is one of the most important steps.  The process of decorating a new room should be fun, not frustrating.  Without a budget you are always on edge. Decide if hiring an Interior Designer is how you want to proceed.  For steps on Hiring an Interior Designer, read my last column with 

STEP 4:    

Go shopping.  Educate yourself as to how much things cost.  Sofas, beds, tables, bedding, etc.  Take photos & make notes about sizes & pricing.  Go on websites such as and Pinterest to start getting ideas of styles you like. Start a file on your computer desktop.  Don’t think too much!  If you see a picture & you like just one aspect of it, i.e: shelves or wall color, save it & make a note about it! You may never find a picture of exactly what you want, but you will be able to compile a list of wants & needs from them.

Get started today!  Make a plan & go for it! 

Then, stay tuned for my column next time for STEP 5 and Beyond!



Do you have a design dilemma?  Email me at [email protected] with questions & photos of you DESIGN DILEMMA and you may be chosen to be featured in an upcoming article!


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Robin Garceau is among RI’s most prominent interior designers.  Her signature style of sophisticated & fresh design brings an elevated level of subtle luxury to client’s homes and offices. 

A native Rhode Islander with more than 20 years in the design field, Robin specializes in comprehensive upscale projects. She also received her real estate license in 2011 and has worked with builders, real estate developers, business owners & homeowners to develop a broad and extensive knowledge of living & office spaces. Robin holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rhode Island College’s Fine Arts Program and is a longstanding member of the Interior Design Society & RI Association of Realtors.

Robin can be reached at 401-743-4889 and on her website,


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