25 Biggest Decorating Mistakes
Once youâ€™ve purchased a home and moved in, the fun partâ€”settling inâ€”begins! For those of us who arenâ€™t lucky enough to count interior decorating or professional landscaping as a sixth sense, here are examples of what not to do.
25 Biggest Decorating Mistakes
1. Fake flowers.
This is controversial, but fake flowers (and plants) are a mistake. They gather dust and don't bring life into your home like real flowers do, which look and smell better. Fresh flowers are expensive, but there are other things you can do instead of buying them all the time. Put lemons or other fruit in a bowl for a punch of color. Or, use some dried natural material like curly willow or bamboo stalks.
2. Too many pillows.
If the pillows actually hinder being able to sit on a couch or lie comfortably on a bed, then it's obviously too much. Too many pillows on your bed also take a long time to remove at night and replace each morning. Instead of buying so many pillows, spend your time, energy and money decorating an area of the room you're actually looking at when sitting in bed. A few accent pillows work best.
3. Knickknack overload.
Knickknacks, decorations, tschotkas, accessories. Call them what you want, we all have too many of them. Rotate what you have. If you really like something but it's been out for a while, store it for a bit. You don't have to have it all out at once and every surface should not be covered. If you're ready to part with it, sell it online or donate it. Edit your collections so they look good as a small grouping.
4. Fear of color. Â
Many people love color but are scared to use it. They're afraid to paint their walls because they fear it's going to be too bold, it's not going to look right or the furniture isn't going to match. You have to try a paint color in the room to make sure you like it there. Live with it at various times of the day as it's different in the morning, afternoon and at night. If you don't like it, paint over it. Color is a great punctuation and doesn't have to be overbearing. Make a color choice and take some ownership of your space.
5. Ignoring windows.
Bed sheets or blankets are made for the bed, not the window. Treatments finish off a room and are like jewelry for windows. Plus, besides paint, window treatments are the easiest and least expensive way to change the entire look of your room. A good rule of thumb is to hang curtains two inches above the frame of the window. You could also do something as simple as a small linen Roman shade to make sure you are blocking light.
6. Pushed back furniture.Â
This is when all the furniture in a room is lined up against the walls. Sometimes the backs of furniture are beautiful and a sofa with a little table in the back is a great place for a display. Get the furniture off the walls and bring it into the center of the room. Make it communal and create a great focal point, which really enlarges a space as well.
7. Tacky couch covers.
It's not just grannies that are guilty of the seventh biggest decorating mistake: tacky couch covers. If you love your furniture, there are more interesting ways to protect it such as using a protectant spray or throw blankets and pillows.A nice throw blanket that doesn't overpower the couch accents rather than hides the piece. Keep it simple and sleek.Â
8. Frames hung too high.
If you have to bend your neck to see your art, then it's hung too high. You generally don't want to be looking up at your artwork, whether sitting or standing. Eye level is always a good height to aim for. Look at the top of your door frames and if your pieces are big enough, they could just reach the top of the door frame and go down from there. A good rule of thumb when you are hanging artwork over a sofa is to make sure the bottom edge is about six inches up from the top of the sofa. That way, the wall art is anchored to the piece and you have a direct, pleasing view of that artwork from any other seat in the room.
9. Improper lighting.
People think bulbs are bulbs, shades are shades and lamps are lamps, not realizing the effect lighting has on people. You want different types of lighting for different moods and for different times of the day. Dimmer switches are a great secret weaponâ€”theyâ€™re cheap, easy to install and give an entire range of control of the mood and the feeling of a space. In a kitchen, you want to be generally illuminated and to have task lighting. In a home office, you want to light on your deck so your work is clearly lit. Don't think about just one ceiling fixture that washes everything out because it will flatten the whole room.
10. Floating rugs.
Floating area rugs are a big mistake people make. They're very distracting for the eye because they chop up a room and could be dangerous if you trip over them.Use a measuring tape to create an outline to get a feeling about where you want the rug actually placed before going to the store. A rug should always be connected to furniture - an anchor for the seating group. For an arrangement, put all the front feet of the furniture on the rug.
11. Too many color patterns.Â
If you have too many colors or patterns in a house, it tends to look very busy, crowded and distracting to the eye.
12. Furniture that doesnâ€™t fit.Â
Showrooms where we buy our furniture are really big, so when you bring furniture into your home, the scale can be completely wrong. To avoid buying furniture that doesn't fit:â€¢ Draw a floor plan or purchase a kit so you can move the scaled pieces around for the best layoutâ€¢ Don't try to put too much into any spaceâ€¢ Measure the room and you'll decrease the chances of making a mistake.
13. Following fads.
From beanbag chairs to lava lamps, be careful of trends as it's hard to get rid of those items once the fad is gone, especially furniture. Decorate in a style you'll really like for a long time and don't expect that whatever the latest thing is, is going to be built to last. Have fun with it but be ready to recycle it when it's out of style.Â
14. Everything matches.
A room that looks like it's a page from a catalog is a mistake because people don't really live that way. It's designed to sell furniture and give you an idea of what you might have in your house, but you shouldn't be matching the look that closely. Make it eclectic, not like the showroom you can't live in. You want to look from one wall to the other and be able to see something different.
15. Lack of traffic pattern.
If you don't have a traffic pattern for your furniture, you'll end up bumping into it all the time. The solution? Arrange furniture in such a way as to direct traffic through the room.
16. Uncomfortable dining chairs.
Never have an uncomfortable piece of furniture, especially a dining chair, which is all about comfort. You owe it to your guest to give them something comfortable to sit on, so a padded seat and back are nice. When purchasing a dining chair, sit in it and decide if you want to be there for a long time. Also, measure the height of your dining room table before you buy chairs to make sure they're not too low or too high.
17. Too formal.
While there's nothing wrong with a very formal approach to a room, you should still make people feel comfortable in it. If you have the space, use it. Give it a function, make it livable and ensure it's welcoming.
18. Keeping something you hate.
One of the biggest decorating mistakes is keeping things you really don't want like an existing carpet or a gift. If you really hate something, throw it out, give it sway or donate it to charity. Don't feel guilted into keeping things that don't suit you by dropping hints to friends and family about your style. When you walk by a store or see something you like in a magazine, show it to them so they understand your taste better.
19. Lopsided furniture.
Some people just don't have an eye for furniture arrangements so it helps to look at magazines to see what somebody else has done. Experienced decorators mix it up. If you have a sofa with a heavy bottom (upholstered all the way to the floor instead of the legs), don't do a big coffee table. Instead, use something light made of glass or with legs, and add a tall, thin floor lamp to help bring your eye up and make it more dynamic. Also, mount window treatments very high up and/or include a very tall armoire. Be sure to keep your furniture arrangements balanced to the eye.
20. Outdated accessories.
Your home reflects you, so what does yours say? Is it 1972 or 1950? It's hard to look at your own house and say it's tired, but if you pretend it belongs to someone else and something looks dated, there are many ways to fix it.Don't let your rooms feel dated by hanging on to older cabinets and especially hardware, which is like wearing outdated jewelry. Make small changes like switching the hardware on your kitchen or bath cabinets for big impact.
21. Out-of-place themes.
If you live in Alaska and have a Miami theme with wicker, it's just not going to work. When someone loves a place so much they decorate their house or apartment fully from another location, it feels forced and contrived. A home's decor needs to be authentic and provide a sense of where you are. Use accents to incorporate the look you enjoy without being overwhelming. If you have a house in the mountains and love the beach, display a collection of seashells or coral in or on a bookcase instead of designing an entire beach-style room.
22. Undressed cables.Â
Why would you spend money and time to make a room look pretty but then leave wires out for everyone to see? Here are some easy solutions to corral wires and cables:â€¢ Use a staple gun to attach them to the back of furniture or along baseboardsâ€¢ Many home stores sell cord covers so find ones that match your wall colorâ€¢ If the furniture isn't a valuable antique, drill a hole in the back for the cords to go through. Make it functional for you.
23. Ignoring the foyer.
It's really hard to undo a bad first impression. A foyer is a terrific opportunity to make a statement about who you are and what your house is like so you have to make it count. A foyer doesn't have to be something grand: Any statement is better than none at all. Use paint or wallpaper to add color and hang a beautiful mirror or painting. A mirror is great because it's reflective, creating the illusion of more space. Use the horizontal surfaces to hold mail and keys when you first walk in.
24. Too many photos.
You're either a photo person or you're not. Photo people feel very sentimental and have a hard time giving up the pictures on their walls and tables. You're putting them out because they're very special, but when there are too many, nothing's special because you don't know where to look. The solution? Photo albums. When you have a lot of photographs of family, friends and trips, organize them properly in photo albums so they're not all over your home. You can organize them by decade or by events, and then keep them nicely arranged on a bookshelf. Then try to display just a few framed pictures at a time.
25. Toilet rugs.
These are cut to fit around the toilet and sometimes have the carpet-like matching seat cover. They can be disgusting for obvious reasons. While a lot of people use toilet rugs because they don't want their feet to be on the cold floor, go for a regular rectangular-shaped rug away from the base of the toilet or wear slippers.