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6 Decorating Mistakes to Avoid Now!

Avoid These Common Decorating Mistakes

Do you stand back and wonder why your room doesn’t look like it does in the magazines or your favorite catalog?

Did you know you may be making common decorating mistakes and not know it?

My mom (with an interior design degree) has taught decorating mistakes to avoid and how to design a room from scratch.

You know what that means? Either she’s stopped me in my tracks from making a poor decorating decision.

Plus taught me how to make the right decision from the start.

With experience comes success, but trust me I’ve made almost all of the mistakes I’m sharing with you because I didn’t listen to good advice! 

Sometimes they are expensive mistakes, but luckily usually paint has saved me or I moved an item to another room.

As a last resort, I lived with it, donated or sold my “mistakes”.

At the end of the day, I go back to the basics and it always works!

If you are new to Porch Daydreamer, here are recent photos of my home. 


It’s been widely featured in magazines, online, in catalogs, and in social media.

Overtime I’ve figured out my own style and what works.

As my mom and I were recently discussing, decorating is a BALANCE and it is tough!

Luckily, there are some very basic rules that will help you in decorating. 

You likely have no idea you may be breaking these basic rules…

COMMON decorating mistakes you may be making:

  1. Pushing furniture against the walls
  2. Hanging pictures too high
  3. Furniture that is too big for the room or crammed in the space
  4. Rugs that are too small for the space
  5. Combining too many styles in a room
  6. Drapes that are too short or hung too low

When you look around your home, do you see some of these issues?

That may be why your home doesn’t look like you want it to.

Luckily, there are simple fixes that you can put in place sooner than later..

To find example rooms, I did a basic image search…if I selected a picture from your home, I don’t mean to offend but demonstrate and help.

Pin It for Later!

Mistake 1: Pushing Furniture Against the Walls

This is my number one pet peeve because I love welcoming and cozy rooms!

Sitting in a room that has everyone far away from each other discourages conversation. 

Plus it feels unwelcoming to have the furniture pushed against the wall.

Just looking at this room I wouldn’t want to sit in it would you?

No Coffee Table._Furniture Against the Walls

Plus they skipped adding a coffee table, which is another issue to avoid.

Everyone needs a place to put a drink or their feet, right?

Once you finish this post, you’ll see some other common decorating mistakes in this living room.

Furniture Pushed Against the Walls

In this family room, it has very pretty elements, but this person got stuck arranging their furniture due to the odd layout of the fireplace. 

A couple of easy options for this room to make it feel more cozy and cohesive:

  1. Center the furniture on the fireplace by pulling the sofa off of the wall and the chairs into the grouping.
  2. Face the sofa and coffee table toward and centered on the fireplace and place each club chair on either side of the fireplace facing the sofa. 

Play with your furniture arrangement and you’ll get the perfect layout for your space!

Guess what? Furniture rearranging is free!

If you need a little help with some basic family room arrangements, this post is for you:

The Perfect Shaped Coffee Table for Your Space

My own family room has an odd corner fireplace that I’ve just ignored and arranged the furniture around the TV instead.

Having a focal point is key in a living room and family room…like the fireplace or TV.


Mistake 2: Hanging Pictures Too High

When men help out with hanging pictures, guess what? They typically hang them too high.

Why? Because they usually hang them at THEIR eye height because that makes sense in the moment.

Or someone is eyeballing from a ladder or step stool (maybe the sofa) and not getting the proper perspective in the room.

PLEASE take the time to actually measure and mark where to hang your pictures.  

Here are some helpful posts around hanging pictures or mirrors on the wall

Here are two rooms that have lots of style potential, but the way the pictures are hung make you think something is off.

Pictures hung too high Art too High Above sofa

Easy Rule: Hang pictures with the bottom of the frame around 8 to 10 inches above a table or sofa.  For a sofa, measure above the highest point of the cushion or back.

Exception: If you have really low ceilings, you can drop down to 6 inches instead to make the room appear taller.

Credit: Under the Roof Decorating (that could be me, but isn’t!)

Typical Center:  Hang the center of the wall decor at about 5′ 4″ person’s eye height or around 62 inches above the floor.

Mistake 3: Furniture that is Too Big for the Room or Crammed in the Space

Proportion and scale of furniture and how it all relates within a room is really important. 

There are some simple rules when it comes to spacing furniture:

planning Space Between Furniture Pieces

  • Distance between coffee table and sofa: 12-18 inches
  • Distance between a pair of chairs: 4-12 inches, or the size of an accent table (mine is 30 inches)
  • Amount of space for a walkway: 24-36 inches

Sometimes hand me down furniture can be a budget saver and add character to a room.

Sometimes it isn’t the right fit in your home. 

Below is an extreme example of both too much furniture and furniture that is too big for the room.

Furniture Too Big or Too Many Pieces for a Room

Also note, the styles are COMPLETELY different between the two sets of furniture.

The dark sofas are very traditional with a rolled arm and the off-white sofas are more modern with a square arm.

Obviously, there is so much furniture that it is impossible to walk in between each piece.

I looks like a college kids living room to me LOL!

In this bedroom, the bookcase is too big for the wall taking up too much visual space and crowding the wall.

It’s so important to keep the scale of the furniture inline with the width of the wall.

You want a little breathing room on either side of the furniture.

Too Big Furniture on Small Wall

Here is a dining room example, where all of these pieces are not needed in the space. 

The China cabinet on the side is too large for the small wall. 

My guess is a married couple didn’t want to part with some family pieces.

Too Much Furniture

If you find yourself in this situation, look around your home for empty walls in rooms.

See if you can repurpose a typical dining room piece for extra storage. 

My old china cabinet is now in my family room because it didn’t fit in my new dining room.

I painted it over the original mahogany stain and have painted the inside 3 colors!

It’s now a statement piece that I LOVE: How-to Give New Life to Old Furniture.


I realize some people don’t want to paint over a stained piece, but if it gives it new life go for it!

Paint is not permanent and can be stripped at any time.

Mistake 4: Rugs That Are Too Small for the Space

This one I think at one time or another everyone falls victim to.

It usually happens when you are trying to save money on a tight budget. 

You think…maybe I can get away with a 5′ x 7′ rug because I don’t want to spend the money for an 8′ x 10′.

Well 9 times out of 10, you are better saving your money and waiting to buy a bigger rug.

OR if you’ve made this mistake, you can buy a simple sea grass or solid woven rug to place underneath the small rug to fill the room. 

There are “rules” around rug placement, but so much of it depends on the shape of the room and the furniture placement.

Dining Room Rug Size: Extend the rug at least 24 inches from the dining table.  This makes it much easy to pull and push chairs plus anchors the room. Most dining tables will need an 8 ft x 10 ft area rug or larger.


Living Room Rug Size: Have at least the front legs of the furniture on the rug about 6 inches into the rug.  In the same room, you may have an entire chair on the rug and that is OK!

Bedroom Rug Size: The rug should extend around the bed 12 to 18 inches. The larger the bed the more the rug should extend around it, so a king would be closer to the 18 inches.

This room is on its way to being really cute, but I would have advised to live without a rug vs. placing a rug that was too small as a temporary fix.

Rug too Small for Living Room

This is clearly an advertisement for the furniture and not the rug!Rug Too Small Dining Room

Do you see though how a skimpy rug makes the whole dining set and room look off?

Here is an example from my own home on my screened porch!

Originally this porch was open all year to the elements, but I recently had it sealed in with an Eze-Breeze system and love it!

When I bought the rug, I got a smaller version to keep it out of the elements.

I’ve pulled the chairs back to show you in this picture, but with the chairs it works even though it is small – there are exceptions.

It’s all about balance remember 🙂


I have since redecorated and the FIRST thing I did is get a larger rug.


Can you see how much better a larger rug looks?

It anchors the space and makes it feel larger too.

Mistake 5: Combining Too Many Styles in One Room or No Theme

The eclectic design style is one I love! Mixing modern with traditional and sleek with rough.

Decorating in opposing styles can be done, but it takes a keen eye and knowing how to mix colors and textures to make a very interesting room.

BUT, it can go wrong if you haven’t anchored the style to a primary style: traditional, modern, boho, coastal, etc.

The style of furniture needs to work together too.

Here are some great articles on how to start a room makeover or update the look: 

How-to Start a Room Makeover

Inexpensive Tricks to Trade Up Your Home Decor

Colors and Styles that Clash

In this room, they had a love for color and with just a few edits this room could be really interesting!

However they did a more traditional Windsor chair with really a really modern side table and lamps.

It feels off for sure. 

The rug they chose just doesn’t relate to anything else in the room

A simple gray rug would have anchored all of the colorful elements.

This room you can see is a work in progress, but has no real theme or anchor point to hold it together. 

No Common Theme

Plus the furniture placement is too far apart and disjointed. 

With a few tweaks, this room has a lot of potential using what is available.

  • Reposition the leather chair at the end of the room to face the TV 
  • Move the tall lamp out of the corner and place it next to the leather chair. 
  • Pull the coffee closer to the sofa and center on the TV
  • Place the Louis chair by the window with the side table by the fireplace for a little vignette.

Voila! See just little tweaks to your room are easy and can be free too 🙂

Mistake 6: Drapes Hung Too Low or Too Short

This is a VERY common mistake people make and once you see what is right you’ll never make this mistake again.

Here is a perfect example of what I mean…


The rod is right at the top of the window and the drapes are 6 inches above the floor.

PLEASE always measure your windows before buying drapes.

Hanging them the right way will trade up the look of the room immediately and make your ceilings seem taller. 

simple rules for hanging drapes: 

  1. Hang them as close to the ceiling as possible…typically 6 inches from the ceiling or 3 inches from the crown moulding
  2. Make sure the drapes hang all the way to the floor and don’t float more than a 1/2 inch above the floor.

Here is an example from my home to show you what I mean:


My ceilings are 10 ft so I typically buy 108 inch drapes to be able to achieve this look.

Invest in longer drapes if you can’t find the right length and hem them with hemming tape.

You’ll be SO amazed at how much more sophisticated the room looks with drapes that are hung the right way.

As far as width of the panel…narrow up to 36 inch wide windows can take a standard panel width of 50 inches. 

How to calculate curtain panel width for window size:

The width of the window + half of the window = curtain panel width

  • 36 inches + 18 = 54 inches (when sewn a standard panel is 50″)

This is a nice general rule you can use as you are shopping for curtains and drapes!

Buy two panels for each side for wide windows. 

Read this post for more information on how to buy the perfect drapes and figure out exactly what you need.

How-to Choose Curtains and Drapes

TIP: Don’t measure for drapes in your old house and assume they will work in your new house! 

Easy to Avoid Decorating Mistakes

Let’s review what we’ve covered here so you can keep it top of mind when you are decorating your rooms:

  1. Pushing furniture against the walls
  2. Hanging pictures too high
  3. Furniture that is too big for the room or crammed in the space
  4. Rugs that are too small for the space
  5. Combining too many styles in a room
  6. Drapes that are too short or hung too low

Start rearranging your furniture and home decor applying these new rules.

Look at how  you can repurpose items in the room that aren’t “feeling right” or move them to a new location. OR sell them if they just won’t work. 

You’ll be surprised by how making few small tweaks your room will look start to look the way you envisioned it 🙂

As my FREE GIFT to you, with email sign-up a detailed paint sheen project guide! 

You will know the right sheen for every project…


Please consider following me on Pinterest and Instagram for daily inspiration.

Until next time…

Porch Daydreamer


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  1. I’m getting ready to hang new living room drapes. One wall has a baseboard heater for the entire length. I can’t change drapes over it. What is the solution ? Thank you

  2. Thank you for the great advice! I look forward to implementing your ideas. My big one are curtains. I painted, carpeted & bought new furniture a year ago. But have a very large sliding door with no treatments!! I’ve been waiting to find the right thing!

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