12 Decorating Mistakes Interior Designers Always Notice That You Should Avoid

1) Following Design Trends

Stop following fads. Make it personal. Ask yourself, what does the space mean to me? What are the colors and textures I love? What is the feeling that I want to have when I walk into my home? Push trends aside and make design choices based on your personal aesthetic, and that way you will create a space that you’ll love for years to come. The best interiors are created when people let their personal style rise to the surface and ignore societal norms and trends. The mistakes people make are most often due to insecurity. They look over their shoulder and listen to what everyone else is talking about and do what everyone else is doing, instead of sitting down and thinking about what they truly love, and what they are truly trying to accomplish in their home. The image below is the family room in my #modernmasterpieceproject, and these awesome clients are the perfect example of exactly the point I am trying to make here. They were guided by their clarity of what they love, the look and feel that they wanted to create, and the result was this most gorgeous space!


2) Selecting the Wrong Sofa A great living room or family room starts with a great sofa. A good choice of sofa first and foremost needs to be comfortable, but it's also central to how a room feels and looks, and as such it needs to be aesthetically pleasing too. So often I walk into a home of a new client and the owners have great taste, but they already have a sofa that they want to work with, and the issue is that the sofa is often too big, too small, too deep, not deep enough, too hard, too soft, too tall, impractical fabric, the wrong color, the wrong style, and the list goes on. My tip for getting this right is to pay very close attention to all these factors above, albeit there are many, but you have more chance of being happy with your purchase if you consider all these factors. A sofa can be a very hefty investment and is not something you want to get wrong. The image below is the living room in my #newbeginningsproject. This is an example of where all the above parameters were met, and the result is a comfortable, livable and a fabulous looking space, and most importantly it is loved by it's owners.


3) Choosing the Wrong Rug Size

Rugs completely transform a room and create a point of interest, but it can be hard to judge the right size rug for your home. A rug that is too small makes a room feel disjointed and really cheapens the look, and a rug that is too large can be overpowering and look silly . As a rule of thumb, a rug should be big enough to fit at least two legs of a sofa or chair on it as in the example below in my #coastaltransitionalproject.

I understand that large rugs can be expensive and often feel like a scary commitment, but do bare in mind that they are one of the most important aspects of a room, and the size (not to mention the style and color) has to be correct. Take your time and choose wisely....


4) Treating Greenery as an Afterthought

Never underestimate the power of greenery in your home! Just look at the stunning results below in my #frenchieproject below. In my opinion the plants and the tree in this room add great value aesthetically. I tell my clients this all the time. In addition to this, studies have shown that house plants improve concentration and productivity (by up to 15%), reduce stress levels, and will boost your mood. Plants release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide which not only freshens up the air, but also eliminates harmful toxins. There are many indoor plants or trees you can add to the decor in your home. Among my favorites are the monstera deliciosa, epipremnum aureum, chlorophytum comosum, fiddle-leaf fig tree (gorgeous but a little bit temperamental), maidenhair ferns, and lemon button ferns. If you find watering plants a hassle, try this idea, pick a day of the week and make that your watering day. It is actually quite therapeutic, and watching your plants thrive and grow can be very rewarding.

Here's another idea, although faux plants have a bad reputation, and to some people are only slightly above weeds in the plant kingdom, they certainly can do the job well. Faux plants today are realistic, long lasting and beautiful, they are no longer cheap and plastic looking as they were in years gone by. Sure, you most definitely do have to purchase the expensive good quality ones in order to get great results, there is no skimping here. In fact, some faux plants look so real that you might even find yourself watering them – oops!


5) Poorly Hung Drapery Panels

This is one of my pet peeves that I see all too often. A correctly hung drapery panel starts with the rod bracket placement. The brackets should be installed at least 6" out on each side of the frame. The biggest mistake that I see when going into 80% of the homes of new clients, is the mounting of the side brackets too close to the edge of the window frame. When you have limited space on each side of the window, the 6" space requirement can be difficult and you may have to make an exception, but otherwise there is no excuse for having poorly hung drapery panels. Another factor to consider is finial size and style, these also take up space. You may have to modify finial selection in certain instances to make everything fit. Hanging drapery rods too low just above the window is another common mistake. The higher you hang the drapes above the window, the taller the ceiling will look, and this is always something you want to achieve. Remember, high ceilings make a room look grander and are always a strong selling point.


6) Not Measuring a Room

One of the most common interior design mistakes people make is relying on the eye to measure a space, instead of drawing a rough plan and taking accurate measurements. Measure every nook and cranny to avoid overcrowding or under-furnishing the space. Mark the height, width and the depth of furniture pieces using blue painter’s tape directly on the floor and wall. This way you can visually see how much space you actually have to work with, instead of making guesstimates which result in mistakes. Also, instead of purchasing furniture because it’s your favorite, consider the overall volume of the space, and the volume of each piece of furniture. This can be daunting and is not easy to accomplish. Besides the width and depth of a room, the ceiling height is super important too and needs to be taken into consideration. Need some help with space planning? You can contact me here and I would love to assist.


7) Buying Décor That's the Same Height

Think of your space as a city and fill it with a combination of heights and proportions. Look at any cityscape and you’ll find this intriguing mix of scale and a unique blend of fascinating shapes—that’s what you want. Space, line and form are 3 of the 7 Elements of Interior Design and each one is super important. If everything is the same size or height, or if everything is either too big or too small, or if your proportion is off, your room will read like a boring hot mess, not something you are looking to achieve I am sure!


8) Shying Away From Investment Pieces

People often make the mistake of buying lots of inexpensive small accent pieces, rather than buying one spectacular piece that you love and that makes the room outstanding! It's worth saving up and taking the plunge on one awesome piece, and then building the whole room around it. You would be amazed at how well this works. If you're on a budget, hunt around on Craigslist or check out sites like Viyet, Chairish and One Kings Lane. You could even visit Estate sales and you never know what you may find. Also, it’s far more financially savvy to invest in one statement (and, yes, possibly expensive) piece. In the end, lots of little things often cost just as much as one good piece, and the space feels cluttered, uninteresting and non-cohesive.


9) Hanging Art Too High

Finding the perfect piece of art for your home is only half the battle. Deciding on where and how to hang it is the other half. A key mistake people often make is hanging art too high or too low. Eye-level or so is a good starting point, and of course this will vary due to the fact that everyone is a different height! Use a removable hook to test the placement and wait a few weeks before affixing it permanently. Art hung the wrong way on a wall is like a character in a movie wearing a really bad wig, it's just kinda hard not to see it and it can be terribly distracting. A good rule of thumb is this, if the wall were cut up vertically into four sections (going from bottom to top), think of the art as being in the third quadrant (counting from the floor). The bottom line is, bad art placement in a room can mess up everything and spoil the entire look, no matter how awesome your art or furniture is!


10) Arranging Furniture Flush Against a Wall

When planning a room, for some reason, people love to push their furniture up against the walls of their rooms. Instead of this, try “conversational furniture placement,” which focuses on grouping furniture pieces. Pull pieces toward one another and off the walls to create more intimate, useful seating. This is another time when space planning is super important and an integral part of the process. It's a great way of starting with a basic plan and playing with the placement of furniture.


11) Not Mixing Periods and Styles

Do not make the mistake of feeling boxed in and limited by the architecture of your home or sticking to one specific style. Do not select furniture based on the home's architecture and time period alone. A much better solution is to mix furniture styles with the style of architecture, for an eclectic and interesting result. I recently saw an image of a ranch style home in which the designer merged contemporary furniture with traditional crown molding, Moroccan over dyed rugs, African beaded benches, and mid century modern lighting. The result was spectacular! I personally love the mix of different styles for an eclectic, layered, exciting and unexpected look. Of course this has to be curated and pulled together in a very special way, otherwise you will end up with a mish mush mess that reads distaster! Enjoy this gorgeous example below courtesy of Restoration Hardware.


12) A Disproportionate and Inappropriate Coffee Table

There's more to choosing a coffee table than swinging over to your favorite Homegoods store and selecting one on a whim. You need to be guided by your lifestyle and functionality (kid-friendly, storage, etc.). Material, height, length and clearance space needed to ensure your coffee table is in harmony with your room are all super important factors to consider. If you ignore any of these factors you will be dissatisfied for sure, I've seen it too many times. Take your time, make an informed decision, and choose wisely. Some coffee tables can also be quite an expensive investment that you will want to keep for years to come, so you don't want to make a mistake. Here's a tip to remember: allow around 18" between the edge of the chair or sofa and the coffee table to be able to navigate the space with ease. Example below is in my #frenchieproject where this rule is no exception.


I hope that this article was interesting and useful, and I would love to hear some feedback from you. Also, if you require any Interior Design assistance in your home, please contact me here.


With Love

Shelley xxx

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