Q: I want to redo my living room except for the carpeting, but where to even begin? With the paint or the furniture? Can you point me in the right direction? I don’t want the room to be in limbo because I got rid of the furniture and then had no clue what to do.

A: You don’t need to empty the room for you to make some decisions! In fact, the more planning and thinking you can do before taking away anything is going to make the whole process easier, quicker, and more fun. You might also save money by avoiding mistakes or having to redo something.

Start by establishing your intention: How do you want to feel in that room? How do you want your guests to feel? Illustrate this feeling by collecting images of rooms, gardens, art, or whatever speaks to you. Once you have a small collection, place your favorites on a board. Perhaps you can start identifying characteristics you enjoy that would make sense in your living room. Are there colors that show up often in these images? What is the style of the furniture? Are there lots of patterns or solid colors? For example, if your walls are already white, and most of the images you collect have the same white walls too, you have already checked something off your list. Even if you need to freshen the paint, at least you know what color the walls will be.

Also consider the function of this room. What do you do there, now? What do you want to do in that room? This will help you identify the furniture you need and suggest possible arrangements. Keep most of your seating away from the natural traffic patterns, and place the furniture close to one another, even if it means toward the center of the room. Imagine the distance that makes conversation or TV watching easy. Take notes from your images as well as the scenarios at your favorite furniture stores, lounge areas in restaurants, etc. What feels right to you?

Compare your images, along with your list of desired characteristics and functions, with your current living room. You might find some of your furniture will work with your new vision. Set a budget and shop for what’s missing or to replace items that don’t suit your style. My new book gives a lot more advice on how to create your own dream house and describes every step along the way.

Have a design dilemma? Jennifer Adams is an award-winning designer, TV personality and author of the book “Love Coming Home: Transform Your Environment. Transform Your Life.” Send your questions to AskJennifer@JenniferAdams.com or for more design ideas, visit Jennifer’s blog on her website at www.jenniferadams.com.