First I quickly sketched the floor plan of the room on grid paper, making sure to include major architectural elements such as windows, doors, and fireplaces.
Next I measured all my living room furniture and drew it on grid paper. I color-coded the pieces then cut along the outline.
Next up is the fun part. I moved the furniture around, swapping pieces out and trying different arrangements until I settled on something I liked. This is much easier on me and my floors than trying to do it with my actual furniture when I move in.
After I had the furniture where I wanted it, I took the next step to play with rugs. I photographed my layout then opened it in Photoshop. I added color to the floor and furniture to enhance the clarity then I 'drew' an area rug using the grid paper as a guide. I tried different sized rugs and moved them around until I had a pleasing layout. I am so glad I did this. I just assumed I would need a 5x7 area rug - my living room isn't terribly large - but the 5x7 looked downright puny so I decided I really needed an 8x10. Yes that means more money, but I would rather know now and save up for it rather than find out on moving day when it's too late.
Obviously I could have done the last step with paper rugs on my paper layout, but it was too frustrating for me to try to keep all the paper still while I slid rugs under the furniture. This took very little time and I think the effort was worth it.
So what about you guys? Do you have any decorating or furniture buying tips up your sleeves? Do tell!