When it comes to decorating a house it can be intimidating to know where to start. Decorating your home is an art, meaning there are not a perfect set of rules you “have to” follow in order to make your home beautiful. A home is a blank canvas and there are many ways to decorate it.
With that said, I think it’s easier to start with knowing what not to do when it comes to decorating your home first. Once you have these foundations in place you have freedom to design a space in your style but still be within the guidelines of what makes a home aesthetically pleasing.
5 Design Mistakes you Might be Making in your Home and how to fix them!
In this post I want to address 5 common design mistakes I have made and see others making when it comes to decorating their own homes.
These are simple rules actual interior designers apply that we home decorators can use to take our home decor to the next level!
Table of Contents: 5 things to avoid
The 5 design mistakes we are going to be addressing in this post are:
- Scale and the importance of it
- Hanging things to high, and what the proper height is for things like mirrors, pictures and shelves.
- Matchy Matchy decor and why you shouldn’t worry about matching.
- Contrast or the lack of it, and why it’s important
- Giving up after your first attempt!
Watch the video
Mistake #1 – Scale
Mistake #1 when it comes to decorating a house is not realizing the importance of scale.
This can come into play in many different aspects of home decor so I wanted to address only a couple points within this post.
The most common mistake I see when it comes to scale in a home is rugs or furniture that are the wrong size for the space.
For instance in the photo above the rug is too small for the room. Your rug should always fit under the front legs of all your furniture that surround it. I’m order to achieve the most aesthetically appealing look you want your rug to ground the room.
If it is floating in the middle of the floor it isn’t grounding the space and can actually make your room look smaller then it is.
The scale of your furniture is also important. You want the couch and chairs you put in your room to be the right size for your space. Too small and they will make your entire room look smaller, too large and they will make the room look cramped and awkward.
Lets look at a coffee table for example. Your coffee table should be within arms reach from your seating. The point of the coffee table is for people to be able to put their drinks or books down from where they are sitting. If its not within arms reach it looks awkward and is a bit pointless.
The coffee table above is too small for the space. This problem could be solved either by adding another table next to it, preferably smaller and lower for an asymmetrical look or by replacing it with a large table all together.
If you are unsure of what scale your furniture should be for your room start by doing a mock up.
Before you buy. How to figure out the right size of furniture for your space.
Before you buy any furniture for your space grab some craft paper or cardboard boxes and measure out the couch or coffee table your interested in. Lay your cut out in your space and stand back. Does it look to small or too big?
I would wager to say most peoples furniture is too small for their spaces. Having the proper sized furniture can actually make a small living room look bigger. You also don’t need ample room around your coffee table or in between you couch and chairs etc.
Your trying to create a cozy environment, you don’t need excess space in your living room for running around in.
This living room is obviously very small however the furniture is the perfect size for the space. They have chosen a large sectional and pushed it against the wall. The coffee table is within arms reach of both the sectional and side chair and the rug is under the front legs of all the furniture.
Mistale #2: Hanging things to high
It can be super tricky to know the proper height to hang things on our walls. It seems like our instinct is to always hang things way to high. I think this is because we feel like if we hang it higher we are covering more space.
The thing is when it comes to filling your walls, you don’t in fact need to fill them to the roof top to make them look decorated. This will just look off to your eye instead of aesthetically pleasing.
Let’s take a look at the photo below. This room has been accented with a floating shelf, however the shelf is too high on the wall. A good rule of thumb for hanging items wether they be art, shelves mirrors etc. is to place the centre of whatever your hanging at eye level.
In this room I would lower the floating shelf and doo without the sign beneath it. Although all the decor is very pretty its too high on the wall, and there just isn’t space for it all.
I have a lot of experience with hanging floating shelves and even I have made this exact mistake.
In our previous home we had a huge blank wall with no architectural detail. I had no idea how to decorate this wall in a way that wouldn’t make anything I placed on it look wayyyy too small.
Then I had the idea to create the look of a built in but with floating shelves. I started by placing a large mirror in the centre, and the centre. Then I hung 4 picture frames around it and 3 floating shelves on either side of the picture frames.
This design ended up being the catalyst for our blog and corresponding instagram taking off and we ended up being published in a national magazine because of this photo.
How low can you go
Since then I have seen tons of people recreate this look however the majority of people hang the shelves too high.
The bottom shelf needed to just touch the top of arm couch arm in order for the entire look to be the right height. The moment you move everything up it no longer looks right, something is off.
This takes me back to when I said that you should aim for the centre of whatever you’re hanging to be at eye level. This doesn’t just apply to one object but also works for whatever is going on the whole wall. Work from the center out and hang accordingly.
Mistake #3: Matchy- Matchy Decor and Why you should avoid it.
Mistake #3 is focusing on matching your decor and furniture. I think this mistake most often gets made because lets face it decorating a house is intimidating and matching everything just seems easier.
The problem is that this creates a home that looks like its pulled out of an old furniutre catalogue and not like a carefully curated space that had thought and intentionality put into it.
If you want your home to look like you hired an interior designer to come in and do a make over, you need to let go of everything needing to match.
Lets look at throw pillows on a sofa. The old rule was that everyone had 2 designs, a plain large pillow in the back on either end and then maybe one pattern that matched on either end.
To get that designer look you want to mix and match your throw pillows color and even patterns. You do not even have to repeat the same color or pattern more than once. Instead you should focus on your throw pillows working together but not matching.
This also applies to matching furniture sets. I remember when we were kids everyones couch, love seat and chairs were a complete set. Same thing went for our dining tables and dining chairs.
Instead of having all your furniture matching you want to do the exact opposite. When decorating a living room you should have a couch and chairs that work together but do not match.
The same goes for picking out your dining room furniture. Most retailers now sell their items as a set OR as separates. Always choose separates. Now this doesn’t mean all your chairs need to be different. They just shouldn’t be the matching set that goes with your dining room table say from The Brick (if you’re in Canada).
Have fun with picking out dining room chairs that work with your table but do not match your table perfectly for that design look!
Mistake #4: Contrast
Mistake #4 is all about contrast or the lack there of it. Lets look at decorating a fireplace mantel as an example.
When it comes to decorating a fireplace mantel I often see people forgetting to use contrast in their decor. This can make their wall look flat and boring.
The decor in this photo above is very pretty but because there is no contrast to the stone behind it it doesn’t stand out. It ends up looking cluttered and underwhelming on this fireplace mantel.
Instead you should focus on adding decor that contrasts whatever is behind it. This doesn’t have mean it needs a high contrast like say black and white, but some contrast is important.
Maybe you have a white brick fireplace, you could add a Beachwood picture frame to your mantel and that would still have enough contrast to stand out.
Mistake #5 Giving up after your first attempt
Lastly I want to talk about mistake #5 I see people making all the time which is giving up after your first attempt!
The thing with interior design and decorating a house is you almost never get it right the first time. Have you noticed a common thread with all your favourite interior designers on T.V. They almost always have to redo something they thought was going to be great!
This is because decorating a home is an art and not a science. Though there are rules like we have covered today, a lot of decorating is truly trial and error.
If you give up after your first attempt and label yourself as incapable of decorating you will have missed out on an important truth. Everyone makes mistakes. Thats just part of decorating.
I hope you found this post helpful for decorating your home. Remember to have fun when it comes to decorating your space. Get creative and think outside of the box, while also keeping these design principles in mind and you’ll have a beautifully pulled together room in no time!
Check out similar posts
- Our boho modern farmhouse home tour
- How to decorate mid century modern
- How to find your interior design style