Have you ever come across a photo in a magazine or on the internet of a room that you just fell in love with? If you’re anything like me you’ve found dozens of them. I’m guessing everyone reading this has found at least one. With sources like Pinterest, Instagram and Houzz it’s easy to spend hours drooling over gorgeous rooms that you wish you could replicate in your own home.

Well, this article is going to help you take the next step in making that dream room a reality in your home.

Trying to copy your ideal room can lead to frustration, confusion and disappointment. Some people try to replicate the photo exactly but still end up unhappy with the final results. Some people just barely begin to recreate their dream room before giving up because they realize they could never afford the same products in the photo. And some people simply don’t know where to start the process of turning a photo into reality.

The place where most people stumble is they never stop to ask themselves questions—and the right questions—about that photo. It’s important to figure out what exactly you love about that dream room and why. Then take the time to think through if you could actually replicate the same elements in your own home.

So with a magazine photo in your hand or a link on your computer, here are some questions to ask yourself about the room you’re drooling over…


What is the overall feel of the room? Is it dark and mysterious, bright and happy, calm and relaxing, fun and whimsical, modern and minimal, formal and glitzy, very feminine or very masculine? Do you like the ambiance of the room?

I’ve often been drawn to rooms that are simple and minimal like the photo above. I can’t stand clutter or knick-knacks, and so any photo I see of a room with minimal but well placed decor and furniture always catches my eye. It doesn’t mean I need to replicate the entire room though. I may just take notice of things like the simple arrangement of decor on the table or the efficient furniture layout.

CONCLUSION: Sometimes what you really love about a photo of a room is the overall feel of the room. You can achieve that same ambiance using different products than what’s in the photo and be just as happy with the final look. If it’s the feel of the room you love, it’s more about focusing on the elements of the room that create the atmosphere you’re looking for. Take note of the colors, materials, lighting, arrangement of pieces or amount of decor in the room and focus on replicating those elements.


Take a moment to look at the architecture of the room. Are there gorgeous custom windows and arched doorways that you are craving? Do you love the cathedral beamed ceiling? Are there built-ins, columns or alcoves that give the room some sophistication? Maybe there’s unique trim and wainscoting covering the wall?

The things I’m drawn to in the photo of the bedroom above are the gorgeous arched window, the brick wall and the tall beamed ceiling. Even if I recreated every product in this room in my own bedroom and positioned the bed in from of a standard window, I won’t be happy with the end result because it does’t have the same impact without the interesting architectural features.

Trying to recreate this window, brick wall and ceiling in an existing home is extremely challenging and requires a contractor. But certain architectural elements like adding decorative columns, building built-ins, attaching wood beams to an existing ceiling, adding a transom window over a door, or creating alcoves are projects you may be able to do yourself.

CONCLUSION: Recognize if the thing that is attracting you to the room the most is an architectural feature because those may be challenging and expensive to replicate in your own home.


What is the lighting in the room, both natural and artificial? How much light does the room get?

I know I’m automatically drawn to rooms with lots of natural light like the photo above. However, some rooms in my home don’t necessarily have the same amount of natural light as the room in the photo, and natural light is something that is hard to create. It generally involves creating new windows, but could be as simple as changing your window treatments to allow the natural light you do have to permeate the room more.

Maybe it’s the artificial light you’re drawn to, like a large gorgeous pendant fixture perfectly hung over a kitchen island.  Do you have a kitchen island? Do you have the electrical lighting in your home set up so you can hang a large pendant over the island? If not, are you able to afford paying an electrician to change the wiring?

CONCLUSION: Lighting can have a huge impact on the overall look and feel of a room, and you want to make sure you can replicate the lighting in the photo in your own home.


How practical is this room for you? Are there lots of fragile items that could be easily broken by your kids or pets? Are the colors all light and you know they will get dirty in a heartbeat? Is there not nearly enough storage for what you would need in the room? Is your room not large enough to accommodate all of the elements in the photo?

Because if you’re trying to replicate a room that simply won’t work in your home then you’re setting yourself up for failure.

CONCLUSION: Recognize if some elements in your dream room won’t fit with your lifestyle. Maybe you need to add more furniture to the room in order to accommodate more storage, or change the color scheme or materials because your pets and kids will destroy them (my dog would ruin the beautiful white room above in a day). You may still be able to create that gorgeous room by tweaking a few things to make it better fit your lifestyle.


What do you not like about the room? Would you want the exact same room in your home or are there some things you would change?

For instance, in the photo above maybe you like the table, but really aren’t a big fan of the seating. Maybe you like the overall look, but would change out some of the decor pieces. Maybe you’d want to add a little more color to the room or paint the sideboard a different color.

Take a minute to list all of the things you don’t like in the photo. You might discover that there are actually a lot of elements you don’t care for in the room.

CONCLUSION: Don’t try to automatically recreate everything in a photo you like without first asking yourself if you truly love every single element in the room.


Can you afford to purchase all of the products you like in the photo of your dream room? Are they readily available to purchase? If not, is there a way you can make them or find a similar product for cheaper? Will you need to pay a professional to install certain items like lighting, flooring or countertops?

Sometimes those glamorous photos of professionally styled rooms are hard to replicate because they are filled with expensive materials and custom pieces. Don’t let that deter you though. You can likely find or make similar products at a much lower cost and still achieve the same look.

Look up tutorials on how to install certain items like flooring and tile yourself. A lot of these items are easier to install than you might think, but please don’t take on anything you’re uncomfortable with– especially things that could be dangerous like electrical work.

CONCLUSION: If you’re feeling hesitant because your dream room is full of expensive custom features and products like the photo above, don’t let that stop you. Focus on what you love most about the the room in the photo and that can help you prioritize what you want most in your own room makeover. Then see where you can eliminate some items and where you can find similar products for much cheaper. If you can afford it, splurge on the one element you love most and save in the other areas (learn more about splurging and saving here).


  1. Avatar Francesca

    I don’t usually leave comments (although I follow tons of blogs. I did just find yours today though). But I just wanted to leave a quick one bc I don’t see anyone else leaving them on these more educational posts. You truly have a way with words, these are informative and I have taken away so much from them. Thank you and please keep posting more like these!

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      Thanks so much, that’s so kind of you to say! I’m glad these are helpful for you and someone is getting something from them 🙂 !

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