Don’t Make These 5 Common Decorating Mistakes

Decorating a space is just as much about what you bring into it as it is what you leave out.

They say that knowledge is power and I guess that sometimes you have to make decorating mistakes yourself to figure out how to fix them.  Believe me, I’ve made my fair share of them and I’ve learned something each time.

I know that it takes time and practice to put a room together and love the way it looks and feels.  There’s a learning curve to really knowing your style and being able to pick out the perfect piece for a spot.

There are, however, a few decorating mistakes that I see made over and over again.  I bet you’ve seen them too. so let’s help a friend out and share a few fixes.

Dont make these 5 common decorating mistakes

Decorating Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Paint Colors

Paint is definitely an area that can easily go wrong.  There are two big classic decorating mistakes when it comes to paint colors.

  1.  Choosing paint before your other decor.
  2.  Not trying out a sample of paint

I know it seems wrong to decorate a room and then immediately take everything off the walls to paint it.  I promise that if you do, you’re going to be much happier with your color choice.

Paint should be the last choice for your project, after you’ve picked out all those pretty fabrics and art.  It’s much easier to match the perfect color when you’ve got everything else picked out.

And for goodness sake (and sanity’s sake) make sure to buy a sample of the color!  Paint it on a few walls before you commit to it so that you can see how the light changes it in the room.

I understand, I want the project finished yesterday too, but let me tell you about the time I chose a paint color while sitting in a car during a rainstorm.  Can you pick out all the mistakes in that one sentence?

Let’s start with 1- I should have been in the room whenI chose the color 2- I should not have been using a tiny paint swatch to choose a color.  I could go on with how many mistakes I made in that one decision, but you can see for yourself.

We had decided red would be a good accent color for a wall in our kitchen during a mini remodel.

We didn’t just get an accent wall, we got a red glow that you could glimpse from the outside of our house at night.

Intrigue is a bright red
Iphone construction photo

Oh we lived with it for awhile because, well because it became on of those funny stories.  But it really was a relief to paint over it when we got back to working on that area of our house again.

For the record, the name of the paint is Intrigue.  Just in case you’re thinking about a red accent wall and need a color to avoid.

So get out those paint chips and pick your favorites – then have 2-3 mixed up in samples and try them out.  I promise it’s worth the small investment to save you some time down the road.

And those tiny samples are the perfect size to use for art projects.  Or you can donate them to the art or theater department at your local high school!

Clutter must be organized before you start decorating


I’m not sure you can define this as decorating mistakes, but it’s definitely an issue that you have to deal with before you can move forward decorating.

It’s more of an accumulation and time/overwhelm issue.

Have you ever watched one of those decorating shows where they walk through someone’s house and talk about all the “great bones” and if there wasn’t “so much stuff in the way” it would be a great space?

The image above is my daughters apartment when she first moved in.  We spent a weekend thrifting and painting and she had a beautiful room when I left.  It was fully furnished and decorated.  All bets are off on how straight it is no though!

Sometimes we wind up with a lot of “stuff” because we haven’t taken the time to declutter.  Or we’ve been given something that isn’t necessarily our style and we feel like we have to keep it.  Maybe we’re holding onto a lot of sentimental items.

Whatever the reasons are, sometimes we think we need to redesign a space because it’s not functioning well, but it’s really because we’re trying to cram too much stuff into a space.

Where to Start

Before you begin the process of redesigning a space, start by taking everything out of the space.

Is there a chair buried under all those clothes?  Did the stuffed animals take over every nook and cranny?

Once you’ve decluttered you might find that you’ve got a pretty great space to work with.

When you’ve moved everything out of your space and decided what you’re going to keep, it makes it a whole lot easier to know what kind of storage you’ll need to organize it.

Right now I am battling photo’s.  I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that there are thousands of them.  Remember that when my kids were born we didn’t have iPhones with fancy camera’s.  We still had to drop our film off to have the prints made.  We had a lot of prints made.

I can attest that there are a lot of photo’s in my boxes that need to be thrown away – they are dark or blurry or I have no idea who the people are in the photo’s.  But I also know that this is a project that’s going to need time and focus.  The solution I have for now is keeping them in pretty storage boxes.

I’ll come up with a plan to deal with them in the future but for now the colored boxes fit right into my bookshelves.  They only mock me every one in awhile.

A gallery wall is not always perfectly symmetrical
via Ballard Designs

Hanging Art

This is another decorating mistake that can show up in a variety of ways:

  1. Too much art on one wall
  2. Art is too small for the wall
  3. Art is hung too high on the wall

Now when I say “art” I’m talking about anything that you hang on your walls.  It can be family photo’s, mirrors, architectural elements or a print that you printed out at your desk or your kids painted at school.  Really, I’m talking about anything that you put on your walls.

Too much art on one wall really means that it’s busy and your eye needs a place to focus.  A gallery wall can be a beautiful addition to a wall or hallway, but it needs to be well thought out before you start hanging things.  Our eyes naturally want to see patterns so it makes a gallery wall more pleasant to look at if there is some structure to it.

It doesn’t have to be perfectly straight.  It just needs to be pleasing to the eye.  Here’s a great resource on the do’s and don’ts of a gallery wall.  Check it out.

Small art.  Another mistake is putting one small picture on a very large space.  Be sure that your art is showcased so that it can be admired.  I don’t want to squint across a room trying to figure out what that speck is on the wall.

And lastly, hang art at eye level.

I know, I know.  People come in all different sizes so eye level is subjective.  Let’s say that the rule of thumb in 57-60 inches above the floor.  That should be about the middle of your artwork.  If your family is taller you might go a bit higher.  Then stand back and look at it because all the rules in the world won’t work if you’re not happy with it.

A rug thats too small for a space is a common decorating mistake

Rug Size

Using a rug that’s too small must be one of the most common decorating mistakes.  I know that you’ve probably already seen this one  mentioned over and over but can we talk about it for a minute?

There really are a few easy solutions to getting the perfect rug.  I’ve seen a ton of lists that say don’t use a rug that’s too small and then just move onto the next tip so let me share a few tips with you!

First, your rug is there to outline a space.  A rug that’s tiny is going to chop up your space and make it appear smaller.  You want there to be between 6-12 inches of room all the way around your rug and make sure that any doors you have will easily open over it.

Also – be sure it’s not covering up any heat or a/c vents.

If you fall in love with a small rug

If you’ve fallen in love with a small rug, you can layer it with another rug.  There are certainly some antique rugs and turkish rugs that come in a variety of sizes that might not be ideal for your space so consider layering.

If you need an oversize rug

Rugs can be expensive.  If you’re trying to place rugs in a very large space you may need to consider getting two smaller rugs and laying them side by side.  You can use carpet tape on the backs of them to hold them together.

This works especially well with jute or natural rugs.  A patterned rug will be much harder to match, as well as one with a border on it.

Or you can have a piece of carpet bound.  Most carpet stores will bind the edges for a reasonable price and you might find that it’s a lot less expensive than purchasing a large area rug.

We were able to purchase a large piece of carpet for a very large room that was tiled.  The rug was really necessary to help with noise control but the size was making our choices limited and really expensive.  We went to a carpet store and were able to choose a beautiful piece which they bound and delivered to us.

Problem solved.

Lighting is an important part of home decor
via Pottery Barn


Lighting can be a tough part of decor.  I completely agree with that statement.

Overhead lighting is helpful when you’re cleaning the kitchen.  When you’re hosting a dinner party or reading a book it can cause a harsh glare.  So think about your lighting in layers.

You can use floor lamps, table lamps, sconces, dimmers and accent lighting.  I have a puck light in the tops of our bookshelves and it provides a nice glow at night.  We have dimmers on our chandeliers over the tables so that their light can be turned down a shade when we’re eating.

Of course candles are always a great addition for mood lighting too.

The easiest way to figure out your lighting situation is to stand in your room at night and look around.

Where would a table lamp make a nice cozy reading nook?  Where do you have a dark shadow in a corner that could use a floor lamp?  Do you have areas under cabinets or in bookshelves that you can add some accent lighting?

Layers of lighting will make a room feel warm and comfortable.  The right lighting makes your rooms inviting.

These are just a few Common Decorating Mistakes

There are tons of “decorating mistakes” out there.

Always, always remember that the rules of decorating aren’t really rules, they are just guidelines.

Your home should be welcoming and comfortable for your family and friends.  Sometimes that means that you have to break a rule to make a statement in your space.

So take all these with a grain of salt, do your research and make your home amazing!

Need help figuring out your decorating style?  Try this.
And here’s a great way to find inspiration for decorating your home!

Dont make these common decorating mistakes

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