Those home designers on TV make it look easy; but many of us faced with a redecorating project have no clue where to start. We may not have the best advice on whether you should go contemporary or country French; but we have researched hundreds of design sources to come up with a list of definite design “don’ts.” Here are the top 10 interior design mistakes to avoid.
10: Choosing trendy over personal style.
Do you think anybody really loved those olive-green appliances and orange upholstery in the ’70s? We don’t think so either. Nothing can make your rooms look more dated more quickly than slavishly following the latest trends. Plus, you want your home to be YOUR home, not some clone of a magazine photo.
9: Not having a theme.
If you don’t know where you going, you never know where you might end up. Having a clear vision when you begin your project will ensure that the finished design is cohesive, within budget, and a fun journey, rather than a frustrating chore. However, remember to coordinate, not duplicate; or you might end up making design mistake number 8.
8: Too much matching.
Buying a matching suite not only looks dated; it lacks originality and gives you little scope for expressing your personality. And let that personality shine! Don’t be fearful and make mistake number 7.
7: Having a bland color scheme/overusing white.
Many novices who fear creating a clash will err instead on the side of choosing all neutrals or whites. While such colors can be used as canvases, design experts say their overuse can make rooms look cold and uninviting. Here’s a news flash from top designers: It’s okay to love color! Carefully chosen, deep and/or bright colors can make a dramatic effect, and there’s no better way to express your unique personality.
6: Lining furniture around walls.
One designer calls this a “bowling alley effect.” Unless you’re planning to hold cotillions in the middle of your living room, your design will look warmer and better — and more user-friendly — if you group furniture to create spaces for conversation or for specific use. And don’t block off those picture windows or fireplaces, either — they’re focal points to build your design around, and furniture should “float” in front of them — not block them off.
5: Failing to repeat colors and patterns.
While you want your design to wow, you don’t want it to shock. Using too many or non-compatible colors can end up making your design look gaudy instead of good. Using nature as a guide can be a great way to start, whether you choose to focus on a season, like spring or fall, or a favorite natural setting, like the seaside. Hit the design books at your local library or an online designer site for more color and theme inspiration.
4: Having too much or uncomfortable furniture.
While some may feel it gives their room a luxurious look, filling a space with too much or overlarge furniture can make it look and feel small and cramped — exactly the opposite effect you’re probably going for. And don’t forget that furniture should primarily be comfortable — if it looks good, but it’s so uncomfortable you don’t want to sit on it, what’s the point?
3: Going for quantity over quality.
Don’t over-accessorize. Too many knick-knacks not only make a room look cluttered and messy, but they’re darned hard to keep dusted! Experts recommend choosing 1 or 2 pieces you really love. Or, if you have a collection that you really adore and that expresses your style and taste, mass all the items together in one spot for dramatic effect. And you don’t have to put out all your decorative items at once. Rotate them throughout the year for a constantly refreshed look.
2: Bad lighting.
A design can’t be good if nobody can see it. For a welcoming room, start by making sure natural light can come in wherever possible. Window treatments should allow you to control the amount of sunlight coming in. Look at your lighting from both a functional and a decorative point of view. Is there enough light to read/work by? Can I change the mood in the room by lighting different parts? Additionally, you should always have more than one light source in a room, even when there is an overhead source; lighting should make a room warm and inviting, not cold and harsh. As a rule of thumb, lighting will be more appealing if it comes from several sources at lower wattage, rather than from a single overhead fixture with a powerful bulb.
1: Hanging artwork too high.
Surprisingly, the most common mistake we found designers citing is the one that’s easiest to fix. Remember that artwork is meant to be looked at — so hang it at eye level! Experts recommend that your artwork be centered 60 to 66 inches from floor level. This holds true even if you have cathedral ceilings; artwork should be people-eye view, not bird’s-eye view. Hanging art too high makes it look like it’s misplaced and floating — and purposeless, to boot.
Bonus Tip: If you don’t love it, don’t use it or display it. Even if it’s a family heirloom or a gift from your mother-in-law. It’s your space — and you should love the space you’re in.