Get the Look — Avoid (or Fix) These Common Decorating Mistakes

You don’t have to be (or hire) an interior decorator to create a beautiful home that’s warm and inviting. Your own style, taste and imagination should dictate your decorating choices. But there are some common mistakes that can undermine the best home decorating intentions. Here are some of the most common ones, and how you can avoid them — or fix them if you’ve already gone down that path.   

Shift Out of Neutral — Neutrals can be a great, basic backdrop. But when you put together an entire room of neutrals without some color to break it up, you run the risk of a room that looks too sterile, plain and frankly, a little boring. Fortunately, adding color is one of the easiest and most fun parts of decorating. You can paint a wall or trim, add solid color or print decorative pillows and throw blankets, create a grouping of colored candles and of course, add colorful framed wall art. If you’re still convinced neutrals are the only choice, there are other ways to add interest to the room. Try varying the tones and strength of the dominant shade, incorporating textures like velvet, corduroy or linen or even adding a splashes of a complementary metallic finish like warm copper or cool chrome.

Hang ‘Em (not too) High — You want to make your ceilings appear higher, so you hang your pictures up closer to them. Mission accomplished, right? Not exactly. Hanging pictures much higher than eye level won’t fool anyone. It will just look like you didn’t judge eye level correctly. A better solution is to add elements to the room that the eyes will naturally follow in a height-enhancing vertical line. Try a large urn with stalks of bamboo, a tall potted tree, or a sleek standing lamp. Placed in corners of the room, these elements will trick the eye into the illusion of higher ceilings.

Where’s the Rug? — Have you ever been served what appears to be a small amount of food on a huge plate? It might be that the portion size is thoroughly adequate, but the scale of the plate can make it appear woefully unsatisfying. The same principle applies to selecting rugs. A too-small rug in a large space just looks off, and can diminish the effect of an otherwise lovely room because all people can focus on is that oddly tiny rug. Generally speaking, a rug should be large enough to reach the legs of all the surrounding furniture (and it’s fine if it’s larger than that).

D.I…Why? —  There’s nothing wrong with adding personality to your rooms by incorporating decorative elements you’ve made yourself. But keep in mind that when it comes to DIY, a little goes a long way. That coffee table made out of recycled palettes topped by glitter-enhanced Mason jar vases featuring bouquets of tissue-paper flowers might not come off as whimsical as you’d hoped. To avoid giving your rooms the look of an arts-and-crafts studio, stick with a single DIY accent piece per room.

Break up that Perfect Match — When shopping for furniture, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking all the pieces have to match to complete the room (and your salesperson will certainly encourage that thought). The truth is, overly matched sets of furniture tend to make a room look dated and unimaginative. Plus, it ends up being a waste of money. Certain pieces will inevitably wear out and need to be replaced or recovered before others do. You will be better off choosing individual pieces of furniture that you like, and selecting one unifying theme to tie them together, think scale, design era or color. This allows you to easily mix and match pieces as needed, both within the room and throughout the house.

In the Spotlight — There’s no doubt overhead lighting is practical and convenient. But relying on that as the sole source of light in your rooms can leave them feeling too cold and commercial. Be sure to add some table and stand lamps for a softer, more inviting glow. Also, consider adding dimmer switches so you can control the brightness level of overhead lighting.

Decorating your home doesn’t have to be stressful. Following these simple guidelines will help your good taste shine through and allow you to create attractive, comfortable rooms you and your family can live in and truly enjoy.