The Top 20 Mistakes Made When Decorating a Home

August 04, 2017

The Top 20 Mistakes Made When Decorating a Home

There are a number of mistakes everyone makes when designing or decorating their interiors.

How many times have you been out shopping and seen something that you love but when you get it home it just isn’t right. It is out of place, looks poor and just doesn’t suit the style of your home?

When you want to design the interior of your home you need to understand colour, lighting, room size, scale and placement. All these will impact how items will look in a room and whether they will make or break a room design.

Sometimes it does pay to hire an expert to help you design your interior but we will cover that later.

Here are the top 20 mistakes people make when decorating their home.

1. Think Scale

When people talk about scale in interior design a good way to remember is a city scape. Every city skyline has a combination of different heights.

A with a city then your room needs to have a combination of different heights. You never want everything in your room to be the same level or the same height.

Think about different size heights for your furnishings, art and window treatments.

Scale is the number one mistake that almost everyone makes when it comes to interior design.  

Don’t put too many small things in a room, thereby cluttering the room and not giving the eye a place to land.

While others put too many large, bulky items in one room, making it look crowded and small.

The secret to proper scale is a mixture of different shapes, heights and sizes.  

An interior designer can help you with proportion and scale.  With the right scale, your room is well on its way towards a successful design.

2. Budget and Shop Around

We are all prone to impulse buys. It’s not to say that you shouldn’t buy something that you fall immediately in love with, but maybe just keep the receipt in case it doesn’t work the way you had originally thought.

Before heading to the furniture showroom, it’s best to have a plan and a budget well-established.

You can easily educate yourself about costs by researching using the internet before you step out into the stores.

First, your rooms need to be measured.

The furniture placement and size need be planned properly.

Go into a showroom with a plan in place, helping you know what you want and making sure you stick to your budget.

Buyers remorse is an awful feeling, so plan first and shop later.

Don’t buy everything in one day. Shopping for an entire room’s décor in one day is not only stressful, it's an all around bad idea. A very bad idea.

You run the risk of matching and you don’t want to do that – take your time, aim for a layered decorating process. Build the look and feel of a room.


3. Not Asking Help or Advice

Sometimes a room needs a fresh set of eyes to spot the problems.

You can ask a friend, a relative to give you a fresh perspective.

If it is feasible, hire an interior designer for guidance—you don’t have to hire one for an entire design project, as there are plenty of designers who charge by the hour. Interior designers are full of clever design tips and tricks that can transform your home.

Seek an honest opinion on colour choice, fabrics, or room arrangement.

Listening to advice, doesn’t mean you have to take it—your home design is uniquely yours and if you love it, then that’s all that really matters, right?

Another opinion can give you peace of mind and help you avoid costly purchases or the repainting of rooms.


4.Arrangement of Collections

Do you have a collection? You know those ceramic pieces of birds or animals you started to collect and now you have a collection of various sizes and colours throughout your home.

Scattering pieces of the collection throughout your home is a bad idea. One may be on a coffee table, another on a side table and a third near the TV.

Having them all around the house leads to a cluttered look for your decor.

Create a big impact by grouping or arranging a collection together – either frames on a wall or figurines on a shelf.

There are some steadfast rules to arranging items into groups—called the rule of three.

Gather what you love into groupings and display them proudly and properly.

Don’t buy too many small accessories. How many trendy cushions do you need?


5. Hanging Art

You can literally turn any wall of your home into your own personal art gallery.

You can easily add colour and dimension to a room that feels drab by adding artwork.

Everyone should display some form of art in their home—whether it is a rare oil painting or a cherished drawing from your child’s pre-school days.

Hanging art should make your home feel personal and intimate, and the work should complement the furniture and design of a room, not dominate it.

The roadblock that most encounter is how to properly hang art. Installation of artwork is critical.

Don't do the 'shotgun' approach, with one piece hung on every wall space at about the same height.

Don't hang your artwork too high—floating on its own.

Don’t forget to leave some space for your eye to rest. Every wall surface does not have to be covered. Consider the entire composition of the room."

The bottom of the artwork should be 20 - 25 cm above the top of a piece of furniture, be it a headboard, sofa or credenza.

In a hallway or stairwell, hang art so that the middle of the work is 167cm inches from the floor or steps.

The best way to ensure there are no mistakes, and nasty nail holes to fill, is to trace and cut-out the frames outline on paper. Simply tape the paper cutouts onto your wall, trying numerous placement options until you have the desired outcome.

Have fun with your arrangements, playing with size, colour, and texture, remembering to avoid the number one mistake that most people make—scale

Beware of turning your home into a museum.


6. Fabrics and Textiles First Not Painting

A common mistake people are guilty of is painting first.

First, you need to pick out the rooms fabrics and main textiles, such as rugs and curtains.

Why is this?

Because it is simply much easier to find fabrics that we love and then pick out paint to match.

There is a seemingly endless list of paint colours, so it will be much easier to match a paint swatch to your sofa than the other way around.

It is much harder to find a fabric that we love, that also just so happens to match the paint we have already put on our walls.

A common mistake that many new homeowners make is they paint a room and then have trouble finding pieces that fit their style and budget to match.

The same goes for surface materials like marbles, tiles and woods. Choose those first, then find a paint colour that complements the look

So, with budget and room size in mind, go for a shopping excursion. Look through samples of fabrics, rugs, pillows etc…

Find what you love and then once you are happy with your design choices, pick out a paint shade or shades from the chosen textiles.


7. Character

While it is really fun to look through showrooms that are full of brand-new modern furnishings, don’t get carried away and buy everything at one time and one place.

Doing this results in a common interior design mistake—buying everything matchy-matchy, resulting in a home that lacks character.

Add character slowly, over time.

It can take years to have your home fully complete and fully designed.

Character is built within your interior design by adding that odd chair you found at the flea market or the amazing painting that a street vendor was selling.

Try a small shopping excursion on the weekend, slowly over time you will find things you love and build your home's character.


8.  Add a Focal Point

Every room needs a focal point—it offers a place for the eye to rest and assigns a room with a function

Larger rooms can have more than one focal point.

It is a common mistake—forgetting to give each room a purpose or point to focus on.

Some rooms are simple—in a TV room the focal point usually ends up being the TV and the unit it is placed on, while all the other main objects in the room (i.e. couches/chairs) are focused and pointing towards the TV.

Other rooms are a bit more difficult, such as sitting rooms or dens.

Don’t just scatter furnishings about the room— first, find a focus or purpose for the room, and then place the furnishings around that focal point.

For example a fireplace, a gaming table, a large painting, or even a coffee table that encourages guests to sit and converse.

In the bedroom, it's the headboard. The head of the bed is the focal point of any bedroom, but many people tend to overlook the headboard.

If you don't have one, try an eye-catching artwork or a decorative tapestry – or paint the wall behind the bed a dramatic colour.

In the bathroom, it’s the vanity area.

A room needs a main focal point; a place for the eye to rest a minute


9. Heirlooms

We all have hand-me-down furniture. Some are prized possessions, while others are weighing us down with dread and guilt.

Do you have one of those “guilty” objects in your home?

Find a new purpose for all those hand-me-downs that you hate.

Whether you paint it, hand it off to another relative or give yourself permission to sell it and buy something you love in its place.

Set yourself free and make your home full of things that make you happy.

Life is too short to have things in your home that you don’t love. Don’t make the mistake of holding onto items out of guilt.


Sometimes sentimental pieces can actually add interest to your space because they usually tell a story about the people who have them.

If they are outdated or don’t fit the style of your home, there are a few things you can do:

Think about whether the piece could be used in another room.
Think about whether it can be re-purposed in some way

Heirloom furniture can be made modern with a fresh coat of paint.

If neither of these applies, it’s time to move on!”


10. Personality

Your home should speak to who you are; it should be like a personal memoir of your trips, your loves, your life.

There is nothing worse than walking into someone’s home to be greeted by beige walls, brown furniture and one mass-produced print on the wall, pretending to be art.

Bring in all the things you love, making your home a unique oasis that welcomes you at the end of a hard day, and also tells an intriguing story to your visitors.

Despite all the rules, you should decorate your home in a manner that speaks to who you are—don’t be afraid to add your own personality.

Too carefully coordinating a room leaves it flat. It is the unexpected item that elevates and personalizes the room, The souvenir from your vacation, the special gift or the toss pillow that grabbed your attention, these are the things that make the room alive.

It is uninspiring to walk into a space where everything is so new that it lacks the warmth and character of a room that has been thoughtfully composed with a vintage treasure or cherished antique.

Adding just one precious heirloom or an original piece of art can help a room transcend from the ordinary into greatness.


11. Over or Under-sized Furniture

Before you purchase any new pieces, be sure to have exact dimensions of the room on hand so that when you go to look for a sofa or table, you know if it will reasonably work into the flow of the room.

A common mistake is people overlooking the size of the space and buying furniture that is either too small or too large.

Circulation and flow are critical for making a home feel and work right.

12. Harsh or Dim Lighting

Harsh overhead lighting is one of the worst ways to illuminate a space.

Layering lighting around a room is always a great fix.

Investing in a beautiful overhead light makes a lot of sense (especially if you have kids because it is hung high.)

Table and floor lamps are the ways to add secondary lighting to a room to make it more visually interesting, as well as more functional. These lights can be turned on as needed, but that way you won’t end up with a room that is too harsh or dim.

A mix of natural and overhead light turns this dining room into an elegant oasis.


13. Too many Family Photos

Everyone loves to showcase their family photos.

People often overload their mantels, shelves and side tables with pictures of their children and relatives.

Consider choosing a few of your favourite photos and mounting them in a series of contemporary gold or silver frames. That way, you can create a small gallery of photos of your most cherished memories — on a single wall, in a way that is tasteful and cohesive.

Family photos mounted in gold frames create a beautiful gallery of your favourite memories.

As long as they are framed in a similar fashion, they will look cohesive.

Black and white family prints are a great way to decorate a space. Black and white prints always look polished against a white wall. If you have any oversized, professional prints, mount them in black frames for a contemporary, editorial feel.


14. Undisguised Storage

Beware of open storage, like open shelves and baskets, unless they are enclosed in closet spaces.

It is difficult to keep these looking tidy, so it’s best if they are hidden.

This is a look that design magazines constantly show to their readers. However, it is a look that is incredibly hard for most people to keep up with. Glass-fronted refrigerators are a great look but are also hard to keep looking great for this same reason.

Hidden storage is a great way to minimize clutter. 

Ottomans or cushioned benches with hidden storage are a great way to disguise books, electronics, backpacks and shoes or any other clutter that may gather in your den.


15. Multipurpose Rooms

The trick to creating a well-designed multi purpose room, like a home office or workout space,  is to make sure that it feels intentional.

Having designated areas for things like fitness equipment or office supplies is critical for avoiding a ‘junk room’ effect.

Try to minimize clutter in these areas and to use it only for its original purpose.

Think about built-in shelves for your home office to maximize usable space. Also, consider placing additional storage under a bench. That way, your supplies or equipment are disguised but easily accessed.


16. Exposed Outlets and Cords

Always budget for extra outlets, which are relatively inexpensive early on in the design process.

It’s a shame to see a beautifully decorated room with a long trail of cords stretching along the base of the walls.

Having a few floor outlets allows you to disguise cords and cables without having to rearrange your furniture accordingly.


17. Misplaced Window Treatments

If your home has a generous amount of windows, consider adding window treatments — like blinds or curtains to add privacy, as well as texture and colour.

Be careful in placing floor vents near curtains that hang to the floor, or in hanging curtains to the floor near floor vents. If the vent is too close, then the air circulation will cause the curtains to billow out and not hang right.

Curtains are too expensive to end up having them not hang like you want them to hang.

Long drapes are a great way to add drama to French doors and they soften the overall effect of a large room.

Patterned shades are a great way to add some color and texture to a predominantly white or sterile-looking room, like a kitchen.


18. Plain White Walls

Stark, white walls can be incredibly effective in a home, but they also can look very sterile if they aren’t decorated carefully.

They can also be a potential disaster for families with kids and pets because they show nearly every fingerprint (or paw print).

White walls are a wonderful background for unique art and decor.

90% of the time white walls make everything against the wall visually float. Using a mid tone wall color or neutral unifies all of the pieces. The only times white works is if it is a conscious design decision with a limited palate, utilizing lots of texture or contrast.

Never apply paint samples to a wall and always order full size swatches to move easily throughout the room at different times of the day. Use two samples in corners to show the intensity of a color reflected off itself - four painted walls can look much different than one.

Use two samples in corners to show the intensity of a colour reflected off itself - four painted walls can look much different than one.

The larger the space you're painting, the more tonal depth your wall colour needs to have.

If your home features an open plan, when deciding on the main colour, select one that's slightly darker than you'd normally choose for a small room.


19. No Pre-Plan

A big mistake is skipping the planning phase of design and succumbing to impulse buys.

It’s better to have a complete concept developed before buying something you think you love on a whim only to realize later that it doesn’t coordinate or, in the worst case scenario, even fit in the room.

The most common design mistake to avoid is not to carefully pre-plan any space before making any purchase of furnishings, fixtures or equipment.

Buying furniture before measuring a room. In the whirlwind of ‘we just bought a house’ excitement, many homeowners buy items before they’ve even moved in.

Rather than making buying decisions based solely on a floor plan, live in your space for a while.

Buying area rugs that are too small. You should allow for a  30 - 40 cm border of flooring around a room's perimeter; anything smaller, and the rug will look too insignificant.

The front legs of your furniture should sit on the area rug, so the rug doesn't appear to "float" in the middle of the room.


20. Forget the Front Door

The front door should be the first thing visitors see; the garage door should be the last, so paint it a similar colour to that of the house.  

Paint the front door a complementary colour so it stands out.

Don’t be afraid to add a pop of colour to your front door – you want to make a strong first impression.

Good luck with your decorating and we hope these ideas gave you some direction.

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