Avoid These 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 me each one of these decorating mistakes to avoid, so you know what that means? I was going to or have made these mistakes and she saved me (literally). So I’ll pass along this tribal knowledge in an effort to help you too!
As my mom and I were recently discussing, decorating is a BALANCE and it is tough! Trust me I’ve made so many mistakes along the way in decorating my apartments and homes.
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”.
Luckily, there are some very basic rules that will help you in decorating. As you know, I break some rules but that is because I have experience creating balance so it works – like when I painted my screened porch a different color than the exterior of my home. CLICK HERE to read that story.
If I selected a picture from your home, I don’t mean to offend but demonstrate and help.
Pushing Furniture Against the Walls
This is my number one pet peeve because I love welcoming and cozy rooms. When sitting in a room that has everyone far away from each other it blocks conversation and feels very separate. Just looking at this room I wouldn’t want to sit in it.
Not having a coffee table is another issue to avoid because everyone needs a place to put a drink or their feet 🙂
Other decorating mistakes are occurring in this room and after you finish go back and see what you would do to improve it!
This room has some very pretty elements, but this person got stuck arranging their furniture due to the odd layout of the fireplace. An update for this room would be to simply pull the sofa and chairs into the room and center the coffee table on the fireplace. It would instantly be cozier.
My own family room has an odd corner fireplace that I’ve just ignored and arrange furniture around the TV instead.
Hanging Pictures Too High
Men usually help out with hanging pictures and guess what? 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. CLICK HERE for how I hang a gallery wall.
Here are two rooms that have lots of style potential, but the way the pictures are hung make you think something is off.
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.
Typical Center: Hang the center of the wall decor at about 5′ 4″ person’s eye height or around 62 inches above the floor.
Too Much Furniture or Furniture that is Too Big for the Room
Proportion and scale of furniture and how it all relates within a room is really important. There are some simple rules that I’ll share when it comes to spacing furniture:
How Much Space Between Furniture Pieces
- Distance between coffee table and sofa: 12-18 inches
- Distance between pairs 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 great and sometimes it isn’t the right fit in your home. Below is an extreme example of both too much and furniture that is too big for a room.
Not sure why those two off-white sofas made it into the room because they aren’t very useable or necessary.
In this bedroom, the bookcase is too big for the wall taking up too much visual space and crowding the 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.
If you find yourself in this situation, look around your home for empty walls in rooms and 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. It’s now a statement piece that I LOVE.
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.
Rugs That Are Too Small for the Space
This one I think at one time or another everyone falls victim too and usually it is around your budget. 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, in 9 times out of 10 you are better saving your money and waiting to buy a bigger rug.
There are “rules” around rug placement, but so much of it depends on the shape of the room and the furniture placement.
Dining Room: 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 Spaces: 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: 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.
Do you see though how a skimpy rug makes the whole dining set and room look off? This is clearly an advertisement for the furniture and not the rug!
Here is an example from my own home on my screened porch! Originally this porch was open all year to the elements, but in the past two years I 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 🙂
Combining Too Many Styles into One Room or No Common 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.
I’ve written an article about combining fabrics and colors that may be helpful too CLICK HERE.
Just a few edits on the room below and it would be really interesting. A dark gray rug in the same pattern would have anchored all of the colorful elements, but that rug just doesn’t relate to anything else that is happening in the room.
This room you can see is a work in progress, but has no real theme or anchor point to hold it together. Plus the furniture placement is too far apart and disjointed. This room with a few tweaks has a lot of potential using what is available.
I would have put the leather chair facing the TV, pulled the coffee table closer to the sofa and centered it on the TV, and put the Louis chair by the window with the side table by the fireplace. Voila! See just little tweaks to your room are easy and can be free too 🙂
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 rooms in your home:
- Pushing Furniture Against the Walls
- Hanging Pictures Too High
- Too Much Furniture or Furniture that is Too Big for the Room
- Rugs That Are Too Small for the Space
- Combining Too Many Styles into One Room or No Common Theme
So start rearranging your furniture or pull up, relocate, and repurpose items in the room that aren’t “feeling right”. You’ll be surprised by making few small tweaks that are absolutely free your room will look like it does in the magazines 😉
By the way, in my family room, my drapes are hung too low…it was a “moving into a new house mistake.”
TIP: Don’t measure for drapes in your old house and assume they will work in your new house! They are custom, so as I said earlier, there are some mistakes you live with and ignore!