"We have to paint before we get new furniture so it won't be in the way."
I know it's tempting to paint first. I'm here to tell you: don't do it.
Paint is cheap. Yes, it does cost money to hire a professional painter, but in the grand scheme of budgeting, it's a small percentage of your total.
Let's say you're redecorating you family room. For an 18' x 18' room, professional painting is around $600 to $800. One good quality sofa is $3,000 to $5,000. Your total furniture spend for a complete family room overhaul can easily be $20,000 or more.
Professional painters work around furniture every day - it's their job not to get paint anywhere other than the walls, ceiling, or trim. Qualified painters won't ruin any of your new purchases. If you're painting yourselves, a few drop cloths is all you'll need to protect your belongings.
If you choose to paint first, you then have to decorate your whole room around a paint color.
The neutrals might not go well together and you can end up hating the whole room. Don't do that.
Your first step should be to draw a floor plan of your existing space - to scale, with graph paper. Then, you can sketch in different furniture to see what size pieces will best fit in the space.
You also need to plan the look and feel. Please don't purchase things without figuring out your desired look and feel for the space.
Start with something that inspires you and build from there. It could be a painting or a rug or a fabric with a mix of colors. It could be some inspiration photos from design magazines. Whatever is, keep in mind that specific look and feel while you're shopping. It's completely normal to like many different things, but there are only so many things that'll go with the look you're after.
When you get to the store, measure, measure measure! Scale is WAY different in a large furniture warehouse or on a computer screen than it is in your specific space.
Don't buy furniture in a vacuum. Things that look great in the store could look really bad in your place.
Don't order anything based on what you see in the store. Get fabric and wood finish samples and take them home to see what the colors look like in your space. The lighting in stores is often drastically different than what you have at home. Also, colors are relative, so what looked like a dark gray sofa in the store could turn out to be very purple in your home.
After you have your look, selecting a paint color is much easier. Just take a neutral or color from some element of the space and use that as your color. In the palette to the left, you could use off white, taupe, or any of the many colors as your paint color.
If you need more help, feel free to contact me to schedule a paint color consultation. I'll help you pick the perfect colors for your space. (After you've selected the furniture, of course.)