Common Interior Decorating Mistakes

All homeowners strive to keep their interiors unique and beautiful. Some tend to buy stuff they want on impulse, thinking it would look great on their home. Some would pick a color for the walls based solely on taste. However, when they combine their choices with other items and furniture in the home, there are times when it would end up looking nothing like you’ve imagined it to be.

Let’s face it – not all of us have the eye and the taste for good interior decoration. In fact, there are a lot of people that make mistakes in designing and decorating their home. If you don’t want to hire an interior designer and don’t have any design background, you might fall for some of the common decorating mistakes. To avoid making them, be familiar with these errors in interior decorating and the tips on how to prevent them.

1. Keeping everything in the same size

Misunderstanding scale and proportion is the most common mistake a lot of people make when decorating their home. Some people put a lot of small things in one room, creating a cluttered look. Meanwhile, other people tend to mix too many large pieces in one space, making the room look smaller than it actually is. Making your pieces look uniform can make your space look boring.

Avoid doing the same by mixing items of different sizes and shapes to balance out the elements. One interior designer said you must treat your room like a cityscape – a combination of different heights. Fill your home with furnishings and décor pieces in different scales and proportion. For example, try not to always match the height of a coffee table with the couch and seats around it. A nightstand can work even if it is not level with the bed. Just make sure that even if you’re not working in proportionate heights, the size of an item should not look awkward in proportion to the size of the other furniture in the room. Remember, it’s all about balance. You may add items of different shapes too, to add dimension. A rectangular couch with straight lines can be better off paired with a rounded coffee table in front of it.

2. Overcrowding or under-furnishing space

There are people who are prone to impulse buying. If you are one of them, avoid heading to the furniture showroom with no plan. A lot of people rely on their eyes in deciding whether a piece of furniture fits in their space. A lot of times also, their purchases end up being too big or too small for the space allotted.

When buying furniture, it’s best to measure your rooms first and get the exact dimensions, so that when you go out to buy that entertainment center, table or couch, you would be sure if it would fit the room reasonably while still having ample space for traffic. To avoid buyer’s remorse, plan the size and the placement of the item properly before heading to the shop.

3. Choosing paint first

One of the most common mistakes in interior design is choosing a paint color first before picking out furniture, fabrics, and textiles to be put in a room. A lot of people get excited about choosing and painting their walls, only to end up having a hard time picking out the rugs, curtains, and couches with the color that goes well with the paint.

Put that paintbrush down and pick out first your main textiles and furnishings. Find the pieces you love, then after you’re done, pick out the paint shades that match or complement your chosen items. With hundreds and thousands of paint shades to choose from, it would be easier to choose the color/s that work best.

Common Interior Decorating Mistakes

4. Not sampling the paint first

Speaking of paint colors, a lot of people also make the mistake of choosing a paint color they liked at first but end up concluding it wasn’t right. But since it would be a hassle to repaint the whole house, they would just settle for it. It sets the tone for the whole space, so it becomes one of the hardest decisions for homeowners. The overwhelming number of color options sometimes make it more difficult for others.

To avoid regrets, sample a few paint colors first on multiple walls, let it dry for a few weeks, then observe how the colors change throughout the day. This is a wiser thing to do rather than buying gallons of paint and using them all over, only to despise it after it has dried out.

5. Matching everything in the room

When shopping for furniture in showrooms, it’s tempting to buy the matching set of furniture to make things easier. However, it would result in an interior that lacks character, personality, and depth. Your room would probably look like something taken out of a design magazine. Also, there are people who would like to repeat the same color and patterns in a room. For instance, some think that a blue couch should have a matching blue rug and blue curtain. Well, gone are the days when matching everything was stylish.

To make your home feel as homey and as personal as possible, avoid buying all your furniture and accessories at the same place and time. Mix materials, styles, colors and shapes in one room. Break the monotonous look by picking a color palette of two to four colors and try working around it. Mix prints and patterns, or by using prints and patterns as accents in a room full of solid colors.

6. Improper lighting/lack of lighting

There are people who install one overhead ceiling lighting in their rooms and that’s it. Meanwhile, there are some who install either unnecessary light fixtures or choose lighting that’s too dim for a room. For instance, a small dining room with super bright chandeliers is very harsh. A bedroom with very dim lighting isn’t friendly to the eyes when one wants to read before bedtime.

Lighting is not only functional – both the light it creates and the fixture itself are incredibly important in creating a mood and ambiance for your room. To help flatter your rooms and make it more effective, start layering the lighting. Install or get three separate light sources with varying heights and strengths for each room. Start with overhead lighting, add recessed lighting installed on the sides of the ceiling, and then layer it with the task and accent lighting like reading lamps. Sconces, cove lights and floor lamps also serve as secondary lighting while being a decorative piece themselves. You may also install some spotlights near pieces of artwork. These light fixtures, which accentuate details on your rooms, can be turned on only when needed.

7. Lack of focal point

A lot of people forget to give each room a point to focus the eyes on. Every room must have a focal point, which serves as the place for the eyes to rest, and larger areas can have more than one focal point. It gives purpose and unity to the room, for without a focal point, the area would look cluttered.

For some rooms, adding a focus seems easy and natural. The living room, for instance, has the TV, the entertainment system and the unit where it is placed, as the center of attraction. Couches and chairs are placed to face the TV and its surroundings. In the dining room, the table is the focal point, wherein people are encouraged to gather, sit and eat, with the dining chairs facing the table.

For other rooms, creating a focal point can be a bit harder. Sometimes, people tend to just scatter furnishings around the room, but it just turns the area into a furniture jungle. You have to find a purpose for the room and place the furnishings with the intent of serving that purpose. You can use a large painting, a full-size mirror, a fireplace, a grand piano, a foosball table, or a coffee table surrounded by comfy seating to serve as focal points.

8. Lack of character and personality

A lot of people think they can pull off just about anything they want to do with their interiors. Some people get carried away with Pottery Barn or Ikea showrooms and tend to recreate the furniture choices and placement in their own homes. This might bring you the modern, up-to-date and “in” look, but it may seem pretentious and boring. There’s nothing wrong with imitating showroom’s styles, but if it doesn’t reflect who you are and what you love, it just won’t feel like home as you hoped it would.

For you to feel more comfortable with your own space, show your personality through your choice of items, colors, patterns, and materials. It should connect with you and reveal you – your experiences, adventures, travels, achievements, and interests – so you can get the most contentment and enjoyment in your own home. Build character through time. As years pass by, you can find items that you love that can fully complete your home.

9. Putting dark furniture into small spaces

Some people place dark furniture, say a dark wooden dresser and a black couch, in their small apartment. Seems like a harmless choice, right? Wrong. The colors of your furnishings, even your textile choices, actually have the visual effect of “shrinking” the area. In other words, black and other dark hues can make your small rooms even smaller.

We won’t argue that sometimes, dark hues make an item a lot more classy and modern-looking, but if you have a small space, it’s not the best for you. Choose light-reflecting colors such as whites, beiges, taupes, and other pale hues to reflect light into your rooms, making them appear more spacious than it actually is.

10. Scattering collections

Collectors are proud of their collected items and they love to display them in their homes for their friends and guests to see. There is nothing wrong with that, until they place one piece of their collection on their bedside table, while another is on the fireplace mantle, and another is on the coffee table, and a pair is on each side of the entertainment unit. A lot of people do this, but it’s an improper (or should we say, disrespectful) way of displaying the beloved items they have carefully amassed over the years.

If you’re a collector, avoid scattering your collections throughout your home. Your collections can serve as the perfect theme for your home decoration – it reveals your passions, interests and a bit of your personality – but do yourself a favor by arranging them in a specific location. Whether it’s on one wall, or in a couple of shelves, it’s always best to gather your collections properly together so that each of them will be more appreciated. A single area where your collections are gathered can quickly turn as the focal point of the room.

11. Misplacing artwork

Adding artworks is an easy and surefire way to add color, interest, and dimension to a room that would otherwise look dull and boring. However, being too rigid with placing your art pieces can make your home look like a museum. Placing pieces of your chosen artwork must make your home feel more personal, so have fun and play with colors, sizes, and textures. You may transform a wall into a gallery wall, and by doing this, your art collection gathered in one space makes a focal point.

But also, there are times when less is more. One oversized piece of artwork is enough to draw attention, rather than placing all the other stuff on one wall. Now, if your problem is proper placement (you don’t want to drill holes in the wrong places), trace and cut out the frames of your art pieces on paper first. Then, tape the cutouts on the wall and try to explore placement options there until you are satisfied. After that, you can drill and/or add hooks with a peaceful mind.

12. Placing rugs of the wrong size

Rugs add warmth, comfort, and character, not just to the floors, but also to the entire look of a room. Choosing the wrong size could ruin the aesthetic of a space. Some people just tend to choose a rug that looks great with the other furniture pieces, without regard if it’s too small to be in that space.

Here are a few guidelines for choosing rugs:

  • In the living room, the entire area of the room must be covered – or perhaps two sofas opposite each other should be evenly placed between the rug. It must be wide enough to fit the two front legs of your main couch.
  • In the dining room, chairs must stay on the rug even when pulled out.
  • In the bedroom, the rug must be anchored on the foot of the bed.

13. Keeping outdated antique furniture

Sometimes, mismatched antique pieces surprisingly add a bit of charm into a room. They can add interest because of their uniqueness and age. However, there are instances when grandma’s antique cupboard or dresser gets in the way of keeping a room beautiful and well-decorated. Even if it doesn’t fit an interior style (or sometimes even ruins the entire look), a lot of people still hold on to their hand-me-down furniture or heirlooms because of its sentimental value and for some, guilt.

Do you have those guilt-invoking objects, like those antique pieces that you want to hide or dispose of, but you can’t because it’s one of the few items your grandparents left you? If you do, set yourself free and do what would make you happier (that’s probably what your grandparents want as well). First, decide if it would serve a purpose in the more hidden parts of the house. If not, think about whether it could be repurposed in another way. Search for suggestions online – you may find something beautiful. If neither of these worked, you can hand it off to another relative and let them handle it, or sell it and buy something that you actually like.

14. Not asking for others’ opinion

Yes, you’re the homeowner. You’re the boss over interior design choices in the house. But you may not notice any problem and you may not be able to think of better suggestions since you have been living in the same space for months or years.

If you are trying to redecorate or planning to buy new items for the house, ask a trusted friend, your spouse or a relative for an honest opinion on furniture placement, room arrangement or choice of colors, materials or fabrics. They might come up with a fresh, new idea that hasn’t even entered your mind. If you disagree, then call another friend. Listening to others’ advice and opinion doesn’t mean you have to agree with them; it would just give you a wider set of options on what looks great. In the end, your home is yours, and you get to decide if you would follow them or not.