House Decorating Guide: How to Move and Drag Items to Customize your Skyrim Home

#1masterpug53Posted 1/21/2012 8:24:54 AMmessage detail
If you weren't already aware, one of things that have set this and other Bethesda games apart from the mold is a simple little feature that lets you pick up and move / place items, objects, and bodies in the physical world. As such, many are the hours you could spend decorating your in-game houses with the trinkets and trophies you collect during your adventures - even with the conveniences Skyrim has to offer, such as bookshelves and weapon plaques, there's still plenty you can do on your own to customize the place to your liking.

Unfortunately, the move-drag feature has been...well, it's been pretty badly butchered compared to what it used to be, so this guide is more for helping you deal with the problems that might otherwise confound you or turn you off to the feature entirely. Self-decorating is still perfectly feasible in Skyrim, provided you learn a few tricks to make it easier.


For starters, the move / drag feature can be used by moving the cursor over an item / body and holding down the action (A) button, the button normally used to talk / pick up / loot. It sounds fishy, but it's actually programmed pretty well to know the difference between 'take' and 'move / drag.'


And for the sake of ease when writing this, familiarize yourself with the term cell, which refers to a self-contained area of the game; the interior of Breezehome is a cell, the city of Whiterun within the walls is a cell, and so forth. Any time you go through a doorway and encounter a loading screen, you are passing from one cell into another.




Why the Hell Do All My Items Keep Falling On The Floor?!


This is probably the first and most prominent issue that you'll run into when trying to decorate. For reasons unbeknownst to me, whenever you drop and item for decorating purposes, the item will usually return to the point at which you dropped it when you re-enter your house (cell) after leaving it; so if you drop items and immediately decorate with them, it will look like a damn tornado ripped through your house when you come back later.

But with 99% of the game's items, this only happens once - so, when decorating, drop all the items you want to use in a big pile, leave the cell, reload the auto-save when you step outside (this allows the game a full loading screen upon re-entering and makes sure that the cell takes stock of the items you dropped), re-enter the cell, and start decorating.

And while the move-drag feature can tell the difference between 'take' and 'move / drag' pretty well, there still will be the occasional instance where you accidentally take an item back into your inventory. Don't just try and redecorate with that item - you'll have to re-drop it and repeat the exit / re-enter again.
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#2masterpug53(Topic Creator)Posted 1/21/2012 8:26:08 AMmessage detail
Why the Hell Does the Cursor Always Grab the Item in the Middle?!

This is probably the biggest hit the move / drag feature has taken to its versatility - in past games, you could pick up an item at the point which your cursor was targeting, allowing greater freedom of movement when placing the item. Unfortunately in Skyrim, targeting an item with the move / drag feature will almost always force it to be grabbed roughly in the center, which severely limits your ability to place it the way you want to. To compound this problem, many of the game's items are 'weighted' counter-intuitively, or at least inconveniently - some pots and bowls will always want to turn face-down, for instance, which is generally not how you would want to place them. And God help you if you want to have a few sprigs of lavender standing upright in a basket.

It's just something we have to deal with, unfortunately - get into the habit of using walls and corners built into the cell to change the position / direction of the item you're holding, rather than just shaking it around until it gets in the right position. If walls / corners aren't handy in relation to where you want to place an item, you can try stacking other, larger items near the spot and using those to reposition the item.

If you have the item in place, say on a desk or shelf, but want to fine-tune its positioning, do not try to grab it with the move / drag again, as it will usually be yanked towards you, which will disrupt the placement and possibly knock over any items next to it. Instead, drop another item, pick the new item up with the move / drag, and use it to fine-tune the position of the first item. Rings are very reliable items to use for fine-tuning placement, as they are small, symmetrical, and most importantly, aren't usually affected by the problem of other items causing said rings to fall out of your grasp...which leads me to my next tip...


Why the Hell do I Keep Dropping These Items When I'm Trying to Place Them?

This isn't a new problem (Fallout 3 and New Vegas both had it), but it does seem worse in Skyrim - occasionally when you're trying to position an item, it will drop out of your grasp when it comes in contact with another placed item. The extra insult is that if it stays touching the item that caused it to fall out of your grasp, it will often prevent the move-drag feature from picking it up, and you'll either have to move it away by holding another item, or pick it up into your inventory, re-drop it, and leave the cell to use it again.

If this happens, use the aforementioned ring or similar item to 'push' the stuck item away from the items touching it - as long as the stuck item is clear of the other items, you should be able to move / drag it again. Or if that's not an option, you'll just have to take it back into your inventory, re-drop it, and decorate with it when you re-enter the cell.

This problem is usually confined to certain types of items, fortunately. Flowers (lavender, tundra cotton, etc) are the biggest offenders, followed by candlesticks and goblets; other items are capable of this, but these are the ones that give me the most trouble. If you're able, try to place these items first before placing other items in around them. Obviously this won't work with flowers, as you'll generally want to place them in a bowl or pot - just make sure you have them positioned just how you want them before dropping them in, and don't get too nitpicky with their placement, otherwise you'll pull your hair out over something that already has strong potential for being very frustrating.

And since we're on the subject, note that - ironically - flower baskets have no negative space and can't have items placed inside them, but regular baskets - including the ones shaped like flower baskets - can.
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#3masterpug53(Topic Creator)Posted 1/21/2012 8:30:53 AMmessage detail(edited)
What the Hell do I do With All These Immovable Items?!

Unfortunately this is another area in which the move-drag feature has taken a hit to its usefulness - you can no longer pick up any object (other than bodies) that can't be placed directly into your inventory, which means that all those bird skulls and forks / knives taking up space on your shelves and tables can't be moved directly. So once again, whip out your trusty ring and use it to knock those things off the shelves / tables and either put them in a postion that better suits you, or shuffle them off to a dark corner and hide them behind a basket.

Where Can I get More Silver / Decorative Items?

In a rather ingenious move on Bethesda's part, most cells in the game (not just dungeons) completely respawn if given enough time - if you clear out Dragonsreach of all its silver plateware and delicious food, stay away from the cell long enough for it to respawn, and all the items will have returned for you to clear them out again (this is also useful if you're worried about leaving a cell completely barren of decorations). Some cells have a respawn window of 10 days and others 30 days, and whenever you enter a cell, that timer is reset to zero, so if you're looking to re-pilfer an area, save before entering it, reload if it hasn't respawned yet, and try again later.

In my experience, your owned houses do not respawn in this way - this prevents random bowls and food from popping in uninvited if you've already decorated yourself and have spent a little too long away from home (good thinking, Beth). On the other hand, all those unmovable forks, knives and bird skulls will revert back to their original locations if the cell's allowed to respawn, so if you've moved any of those out of place, then never stay away from said home longer than 30 days.
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#4masterpug53(Topic Creator)Posted 1/21/2012 8:27:53 AMmessage detail
Are There Any Items I Can't Decorate With?

When I said that 99% of items are only thrown on the floor one time, there does remain that 1% that won't stay put no matter what you do. These items will always end up going somewhere when you re-enter the cell, and have the potential of glitching through a wall and becoming lost forever.

Here's a brief list of items to avoid (that I've found) when decorating - you're welcome to try them at your own risk, but don't say I didn't warn you:

- Thieve's Guild Larceny Items (just leave 'em all where Delvin puts them)

- Wooden Mask (Haven't tested Dragon Priest Masks)

- Circlets (even generic ones)

- Staff of Magnus (DON'T put this one on a weapon rack either - it will gradually shift its position to the point where it might 'destroy' the rack or plaque its on, making you permanently unable to put a new weapon there).

- Keening (I didn't test this one fully, but it has the same potential as the Staff of Magnus to move around and destroy a plaque or case, so I wouldn't push it).

On that note, if you notice that a weapon placed on a rack is gradually moving out of postition every time you re-enter your home, take it out and just keep it in a chest.

I've also run into a bug where items can't be moved at all once you re-enter the cell - you can't even push them with your body or another item. I think this is a bug related to lag, because it started affecting certain items late in the game that weren't affected earlier on. It's still possible to decorate with these items if this happens, though - since an item reverts to its original drop point upon re-entry of the cell, you have to actually drop the item from your inventory into the position you want it; it takes some practice, but isn't impossible.


Finally, the collision physics in this game seem even more whacked-out than in Fallout 3 - as such, you can't count on putting items in bowls or on plates the way you used to. I wouldn't recommend putting anything but food and ingredients in your self-placed bowls, and plates can only handle certain types of items without doing the cha-cha halfway across your table. It's something you kinda have to try for yourself to get a good picture of, but definitely do not try to place a bunch of rings or gemstones in or on a self-placed bowl or plate, unless you want to marvel at the magic of a tap-dancing silver bowl.



So if you're still reading at this point, thanks for reading, and hopefully some of these tips will make house-decorating more fun, or at least bearable. I'm pretty nutty over it myself (was even compelled to ditch a 150-hour character simply because I was glitched out of buying Honeyside), so if you have any specific questions, I can probably answer them.
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#5PsychoD_BoyPosted 1/21/2012 9:48:32 AMmessage detail
I made the mistake of putting 6 large baskets in the master bedroom in the Dawnstar Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary and filling them with soul gems. I left the sanctuary and came back a couple hours later to find all of the soul gems scattered around the room and the baskets nowhere to be found.

Also, be careful with the weapon rack in that bedroom. I filled it with named weapons and the Blade of Woe randomly disappeared never to be seen again.

Good guide btw. Very helpful if your new to decorating.
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#6SnoogydoodlesPosted 1/21/2012 10:05:32 AMmessage detail
This was helpful, thanks.
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#7IrvingWallacePosted 1/21/2012 10:26:19 AMmessage detail
Thanks dude very helpful. This should be made sticky.
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When there's no more room in hell, there will be a new Call of Duty released every month.
#8HolyGigoPosted 1/21/2012 10:28:06 AMmessage detail
Interesting guide... I'd given up on decorating because things kept moving around too much, so I will have to try that reloading trick. Thanks for the info.
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"I'll let my guns do the preaching."
#9masterpug53(Topic Creator)Posted 1/21/2012 2:57:19 PMmessage detail
Bump.
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Simple questions deserve long-winded answers that no one will bother to read.
#10baconslappyPosted 1/21/2012 4:02:24 PMmessage detail
Bump. Also i found out that it seems to help if you wait AFTER you put down an item (basket and cauldrons are the only ones ive tested so far)