We *all* make decorating mistakes.  Yes, everyone, including the professionals.  Decorating is an art form and sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error to figure out what works and what doesn’t.  Of course, it’s always best when you can get it right on the first try, so today I’m sharing a few common decorating mistakes and giving tips on how to avoid them.



Mistake #1.  Being Too Afraid to Try

Decorating it not everyone’s forte – I get that.  So it’s understandable that when approaching a decorating project, you might have a lot of apprehension, but don’t let that stop you!

“If you don’t start, you’ve already failed.”


If you’ve been wanting to try your hand at decorating – or even try tackling a larger remodeling project – but have been apprehensive to start, here’s a few tips to get  you started:

1. Start Small – pick one thing to change in your home before tackling a remodeling project.  Maybe you just want to change out the accent pillows?  Maybe the drapes?  Give yourself a realistic project scope to begin with and to build your confidence and then you can tackle that whole home makeover!

2. Gather Ideas – Look through magazines, Pinterest, books, etc. and take note of what you like and what you don’t.  You’ll often find a pattern to your preferences so let those be your guide.

3.  Find Your Inspiration – I truly believe that it’s essential to start with an inspiration piece.  You can read more about defining you inspiration piece {here}.

4.  Make a Plan – Your design plan should be defined enough to keep you on track, and yet flexible enough to change if the process requires it.  You can find a step-by-step process for creating your own plan {here}.


Just remember, no one knows what you like and don’t like better than you, so let your instinct guide you!



Mistake #2.  Recreating a Showroom

Browsing through catalogs is so much fun and provides tons of inspiration, but let’s be honest, no one lives in those showcase rooms!  While beautiful, they lack the individuality that makes a house a home.  So while you look for ideas and inspiration in catalogs and on showroom floors, don’t make the mistake of trying to recreate those *exact* looks in your own home.

If you find a look you love, recreate as little or as much of it as you want in your own home, but then add in touches that are uniquely you!  Maybe it’s a favorite color, a collection you have, seasonal touches, etc. Just be sure that if you’re using a showroom as your inspiration, that you make the effort individualize it to reflect you and your family!


Mistake #3.  Purchasing Investment Pieces that are Trendy or Fads

I realize that to some, this is a controversial topic, but to clarify, I’m not suggesting that you avoid purchasing trendy home decor, but rather that you try not to purchase trendy items for your big, expensive, investment pieces.  Why?  Because once they are out of style, you probably won’t like them as much but they’re too expensive to replace on a regular basis!  Admittedly, everything moves in and out of fashion all the time, but some things go out of fashion much more quickly than others.  For example, if you purchase a sofa in Marsala {Pantone’s 2015 Color of the Year}, will you still like it in 2016 when it’s out of style?

The bottom line is this: for expensive items or permanent fixtures in your home, select colors and materials that you feel you will love and enjoy for many years to come, regardless of whether they are in style.  Pick items that will have longevity for you.  Doing so is a much more economical and budget-friendly way to decorate.  And if you still want that touch of Marsala, use it in your accent items!


Mistake #4. Using the Incorrect Scale

In the world of interior design, “scale” refers to the size of an object in relation to the size of the room, as well as to the size of other objects in a room.  A common mistake is to purchase furnishings and decor that are either too big or too small for the room.  If furnishings are too big for a room, they look as if they are overpowering the space.  If they are too small, it will look as if the room is eating them up.  The goal is to achieve the Goldilocks effect – scale that is juuuuuussst riiiiiiiiggght.  When the scale is right, furnishings will look as if they fill the space without dominating it and you will have achieved a sense of balance and harmony.

If you’re not sure whether an item will fit nicely in your room, get the dimensions and then physically mark the space on the floor,  You can lay out newspapers in the shape of the item or use painter’s tape on the floor.  I’ve even gathered together pillows, chairs, and other items into a pile that matched the dimensions of an item I was considering buying so that I could get a better 3D representation.

For some rule-of-thumb guidelines when it comes to furniture and space planning, click {here}.


Mistake #5: Pushing Furniture Against the Walls

Often times, people think that in order to make a room look bigger, they should put all of the furniture against the walls so as to leave as much room as possible in the center, thus giving the illusion of more space.  Unfortunately, this actually makes the room look smaller!  Why?  Because pushed against the walls, the furniture mimics the shape of the room and so puts the focus on the shape of the room instead of the beauty of the furnishings.  Also, the room will often look crowded on the perimeter and empty in the middle, which jars the eye.  It will be just a plain box of a room instead of a space with interest and dimension.

As an alternative, pull furniture away from the walls and create more intimate conversational groupings.  If the room truly is small and it’s necessary to put the sofa on the wall, move it at least 2-3 inches away just so that a shadow will be created, which will add just a bit of dimension to the space.



Just remember, making the above decorating mistake is not the end of the world! Even if you can’t afford to change or redo one of these mistakes, there are often ways to disguise them.  For example, is the scale of a sofa too small?  Try adding end tables to either side that are exactly the same height as the sofa arms to visually lengthen the sofa!


Your home is like a giant puzzle where you can move the pieces around to suite your needs, so never be afraid to change it up and try something new!  And hopefully, these tips will help give you the confidence to tackle a new project this year.

And speaking of projects,  what’s your #1 home project for 2015?


Signature Favorite Things 2014 {and a Gift for You!}

Would you like to receive my posts via email? Enter your email address below. You will instantly receive an email from FeedBurner and you will need to click the link to activate your subscription.

Enter your email address:Delivered by FeedBurner


8 comments on “5 Decorating Mistakes {and How to Avoid Them}”

  1. #3. Uh huh. I still have a red couch from 2000. Although I’ve tried to update the look by varying the pillows, it’s still an expensive red couch. I loved it at the time and I still do but it’s big and red. :)

    These are smart ideas. I’m working on changing the color scheme in our master bedroom right now. We use a pretty basic white matelasse bedspread so it’s easy changing out the pillows. Loving it so far!

    • Hi Stacey! If you still love your red sofa after all these years then you’re not #3 at all! :) #3 was really more about buying things just because they’re “in” and not because someone really loves them, regardless of whether they are “in” or “out”. But I do understand what you’re saying about it being difficult to update the look of a red sofa…. :)

      Matelasse is one of my all-time favorite patterns – so classic! And you’re right, with white it’s very easy to update the look. Good luck with your master bedroom. I’m sure it will turn out beautifully!!

  2. Great post and fabulous tips to keep in mind. I am learning to update my very tradition pieces with a few more modern accessories that I love. Totally changes the look of everything. My #1 project this year is to finally get the hardwood floors down.

    • Hi Marty! It’s it funny how accessories change the look of everything? I would *love* to update our floors – are you doing the work yourself???

  3. I agree with all of your “mistakes”…especially the furniture against the wall…very much so in larger rooms where there is no reason to do this. Some homes are very small though but if you can fit a sofa table between the sofa and wall, it mimics space.

    My big project is ready to begin very soon and I’m so excited. I’m turning our smallish den into my version of a “woman cave” (although I’m not fond of that term!). We already have a living room, family room and office, this room was simply filled with too formal furniture and tons of bookshelves with books we no longer had a use for. Wallpaper and shelves coming down, soft colors and comfy furniture going in. I am so excited!!

    Thanks for a great post as always. Please stop by when you have a chance for my Year In Review post! :)

    Jane x

    • Hi Jane! Sorry for the delay in responding. Great point about the sofa table! How’s your “woman cave” coming along? Sounds like it will be such a great space – I’m happy for you!! :) Kim

  4. So many great ones, the scale is an important one, otherwise the room will not feel or look right.
    I also strongly agree with #3, especially buying these at a really high price only to discover they are out of vogue the following year. Great tips!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *