Roman Shades, Wood Blinds

Common Decorating Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Common Decorating Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Whether you’re furnishing your first house or you’ve already lived in several places, everyone makes mistakes decorating their home at some point. Sometimes those mistakes get ironed out through years of experience or trial and error, but sometimes it takes the words of an expert or observing a beautiful home to see how the pieces in your own aren’t quite adding up.

There are little design mishaps that are specific to individual houses or rooms, but there are some common decorating mistakes many homeowners find themselves making as well. ZebraBlinds.ca is here to help by presenting some those decorating mistakes and how to avoid them.

Not Choosing the Correct Window Treatments

Granted, having any sort of window treatments is better than ignoring the windows and leaving them bare. Skipping shades or curtains entirely will not only let in an excessive amount of light, but it’s also a missed opportunity in terms of interior design. However, there are some easy mistakes to make when you do have window treatments.

First is neglecting the function of the window treatment. How much light do you want to let into the room? Is privacy a concern for this space? As an example, bathroom windows should be approached differently than windows in the living room. Forgetting the function can lead to selecting the wrong fabrics or materials for window treatments. Don’t make the mistake of picking a fabric solely for its colour or pattern over its durability, translucency and other factors that apply to each room.

Sometimes the design of a treatment doesn’t match well to the window. You have to consider the type and size of the window to decide what would accentuate it best. A window that would look good with roman shades might not work nearly as well with wooden blinds.

Window with Roman Shades vs Wood Blinds

Another common error is picking curtains with panels that aren’t wide enough. The panels you have may technically be just the right size to cover the window, but then they will look out of place and small when pulled apart. Big windows should have double-wide panels to make the curtains feel more full, instead of disproportionate to the window.

Finally, your window treatments may be layered improperly. Combining sheer shades, curtains and a custom valance can create a stunning effect. The key is planning it out and executing it well. If you are inexperienced with complex window treatment ideas, be sure to do your research beforehand and don’t be afraid to ask for advice.

Combine Sheer Shades, Curtains and Custom Valances for a Stunning Effect

Hanging Curtains Incorrectly

Yes, there is a correct way to hang curtains, and not doing it properly is a common decorating mistake. Learning how to hang curtains can be tricky, but here are a few tips:

  • Don’t hang the window treatment too low. One frequent mistake is not knowing where to hang curtain rods, so they end up positioned too close to the top edge of the window. Instead, the curtain rod should be halfway or even two-thirds of the way to the ceiling, creating the illusion of more space and higher ceilings.
  • Use a rod that’s bigger than the window. It’s easier to use a curtain rod you already own, but sometimes that means it ends up not being wide enough. When a curtain rod is too tight and exact above the window, the curtains will hang partially in the window and make it appear smaller. If you can, purchase a new curtain rod or extend the one you have anywhere from six to ten inches on either side. That way you have plenty of space to play with and can truly show off your window.
  • Make sure your curtains are longer instead of short. One of the most common decorating mistakes is having curtains that aren’t long enough. Drapery panels that are too short just feel awkward. Measure the window and the distance to the floor with precision, then try a different solution.

You could let the curtains float slightly off the floor at a distance of an inch or less. The kiss — where your curtains just barely touch the floor — is difficult to pull off but looks lovely if you can get it right. You could also go for the puddle — buying high-quality drapery with a lot of length so it puddles elegantly on the floor.

Curtains that Aren't Long EnoughInadequate Lighting

One of the worst interior design mistakes people make is inadequate lighting. Generally, a room is poorly lit because there’s only one source of light, making it feel cold and unfinished. Ideally, you should have at least three points of light in every room.

You’ll also need to think about the purpose of the light source. Will it be task lighting, ambient lighting or accent lighting? To help decide, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the function of the room?
  • What activities normally take place there?
  • Is there a certain mood to strive for in the space?

For example, a bedroom should be nice and cosy, while a home office should feel like a work area and encourage productivity.

Layering lighting allows you to create different atmospheres depending on the time of day, but all the lights should work well with each other and with the other elements of the room. Table and floor lamps are an excellent choice for all-purpose lighting that isn’t too harsh. You could also put a task light at a desk or beside an armchair where you like to read, or introduce soft lighting through fixtures like wall sconces.

Improper Scale of Furniture

When shopping for new furniture, it’s easy to get carried away by your excitement and bring home a sofa that’s way too large. On the other hand, it’s just as easy to spot a cute ottoman and nab it for your living room, only to realise later that it’s swallowed up by the size of the space.

Both of these scenarios are common, so don’t be ashamed if it happens to you. Whatever the case, buying furniture or accent pieces that are out of proportion is one of the decorating mistakes to avoid. Whether the scale and proportion of the furniture is off or the size and shape of pieces hasn’t been varied enough, it leaves you with a room that feels disjointed.

Keep in mind the size of the room and what each furnishing you bring in will mean for the ease of movement. Measure the height, width and depth of the furniture you want, along with the dimensions of the room. Then map out a possible arrangement on paper or use painter’s tape on the floor to mark potential positions, including foot paths. The more planning you do beforehand, the less likely you are to make a costly mistake.

Buying Furniture or Accent Out of Proportion

Trouble Choosing Furniture

Having a clean slate, such as a new house or apartment, can be intimidating. For some people, interior design is too daunting, so they go the safest route possible and purchase all matching furniture. They bring home a couch, loveseat and armchair with the same fabric, as well as end tables and a coffee table with similar designs. While everything is coordinated that way, it also looks boring and plain. There’s nothing wrong with mixing and matching furniture pieces since they can still feel like they belong together without being mirror images of each other.

If you have existing pieces that moved with you, don’t discard them too quickly. Inherited items, vintage furnishings and basic storage pieces could all have their place if utilized cleverly. After all, you could always update them to fit a room. In addition, if you already own a fairly large piece of furniture, consider making it the focal point of a space and designing around it.

When browsing for furniture, don’t snap something up just because it’s discounted or attractive to look at. Do your research! Is it sturdy enough for years of use? Is it comfortable to sit on? Will it mesh with the other elements of the room? If possible, try not to shop online for furniture. It’s better to have it in person so you can see it up close, touch it and test it out.

Furniture Against the Walls

Automatically arranging your furniture against the walls is a great way to make a room feel more like a hallway. However, often homeowners do this because they don’t know of any other options.

Sure, in some areas you may not have much of a choice due to space constraints, but when you can, pull furniture away from the walls and float it in the middle of the room. This creates conversational groups, puts together a more interesting interior design and makes a spacious room feel intimate instead of isolating.

Arranging Furniture Against Walls

Wall Colours That Don’t Work

Picking the wrong paint colour is another expensive mishap. Falling in love with a particular shade is fine, but if you go ahead and paint every wall before you’ve purchased furniture or chosen a colour palette for the room, it may lead to unfortunate results.

Start by selecting the furniture, custom drapes and area rugs you want before taking any paint to the walls. You need to know how the hue will interact with furnishings and other elements in the room so you can be sure it will go with the rest of the space.

Select Furniture Drapes and Rugs Before Painting

To help you with this, bring home a swatch of the color you are thinking about. Hold it up next to furniture and accent pieces, view it in different locations of the room and check how it looks during different times of the day. You’d be surprised at how much sunshine can change the appearance of a color in comparison to cloudy skies! Basically, paint colors are a big commitment, so be sure to give them a lot of thought.

Other Colour Palette Problems

Whether it’s paint or some other aspect of a room, try to avoid too many colors or contrasts. It’s hard on the eyes, and it can end up making your home feel like a circus. Instead, limit your palette. Rather than totally different colors, experiment with darker or lighter shades of the same color.

At the same time, don’t let fear talk you into filling your home with lots of whites or neutrals. It’s okay to have a little fun with bold splashes of color. You could inject bright shades through accessories, linens or even an accent wall.

Don't Fill Home with Lots of Whites or Neutrals

False Ideas About What Wall Art to Use

Artwork is a fantastic way to liven up your house. Photography, prints and paintings all act as points of interest and conversation pieces. However, it’s a mistake to think that every single wall needs a piece of art. As mentioned, being surrounded by visual stimulation is tiring, and to the brain, it can feel like clutter. It’s difficult to relax in such a crowded space. Some rooms can feature artwork, but it’s okay to leave others with blank walls.

It’s also completely fine to put up family portraits in living spaces. Maybe leave all those embarrassing snapshots in the pages of albums where they belong, but otherwise, hanging a few well-placed pieces will make the home feel more inviting. Images that cause you to smile whenever you look at them are something to be treasured and shared, so feel free to put up those wedding photos or adorable baby pictures!

Hanging Artwork Wrong

Now that you’ve picked out artwork you love, it’s time to hang it on the walls. Unfortunately, in many cases gorgeous artwork gets hung incorrectly, drawing attention away from the piece and to the visual awkwardness instead. The chief offenders are wall art being placed too high on the wall, too low or not according to scale.

If you have a pretty massive piece of artwork, it can be positioned higher on the wall so the bottom edge isn’t too close to the floor. However, the average piece of wall art should be at eye level, meaning your eyes should rest at the centre of the piece. That would leave the centre 65 to 70 inches from the floor.

Massive Artwork Higher on The Wall

When artwork is positioned above furniture, the rules are slightly different. It should be roughly six to eight inches away from the top edge of the furniture, so the space doesn’t feel crowded and there isn’t the risk of the artwork getting knocked off the wall by accident.

When it comes to a grouping of wall art, the highest pieces should be at eye level. If you want a gallery wall, plan everything out beforehand. Make a sketch of your ideas, or cut pieces of paper to the size of your frames and tape them to the wall. Wall art shouldn’t be spaced out more than two inches apart so it will all feel cohesive.

Insufficient Area Rugs

If your home is filled with dazzling hardwood floor, it might be tempting to leave it uncovered to display its beauty. However, area rugs do have their benefits, such as absorbing sound and lending softness to a space. Some smart places to situate rugs include the living room, bedrooms and any hallways.

Not having enough rugs is a problem, but trouble can also arise when you bring home an area rug you bought on the fly. If you go rug shopping before the layout of the space is measured or the furniture is arranged, more often than not, you end up with the wrong size.

Rug Shopping After Arranging Furniture

Choosing a rug that is too small for the room is common. To remedy this, always take accurate measurements first so you have them on hand. Remember, if you have an area rug, it should ground a group of furniture. For instance, when placing a rug in the dining room, it should be completely underneath the table and chairs — even when a chair has been pulled out so your guest can sit down. However, if you’re dealing with a small room, the rug should be floated in front of the furniture instead of directly under it.

Too Many Collections on Display

Collection overload is a serious decorating mistake. While you may be a stamp enthusiast or have lots of porcelain dolls, don’t scatter all of your collectibles throughout the house. Choose the pieces you’re proudest of and highlight them — whether they’re family heirlooms or mementos from travelling.

Designate a specific display area for your collection and limit yourself to putting out a small number of pieces. Every autographed baseball you own doesn’t need to crowd the shelf. Besides, there are so many more ways to improve your interior design besides displaying collectibles. If you are going to have them out, though, they should at least be arranged in a pleasing way.

Even piles of books everywhere can feel like too much clutter. Just purchase a large bookshelf and sort them all there. Any other collections should be stashed away in a clean and organised manner, so they’re protected and easy to find later.

Lots of Clutter

This common decorating mistake naturally follows from the previous one. A space becomes cluttered and disorganised, in part, because you didn’t invest in functional furnishings that store what you want tucked away and display the prized possessions you’d like to show off.

Good storage can be a lifesaver. Too much clutter on your furniture, such as loads of pillows on the couches or decorations on the shelves, drags down the design of a space. It makes a room feel more cramped and, in the case of the couches, it robs your family and friends of a comfortable place to sit.

Don’t sabotage your interior design right out of the gate. Store some of the clutter away, or consider getting rid of some of your belongings so your home can have more breathing room.

Adhering to Trends Too Strictly

The glossy pages of interior design magazines make popular fads look so appealing, but chasing trends can get expensive after a while. Besides that, what’s in style now doesn’t necessarily showcase your personality. Don’t stress about having the latest furnishings, window treatments or hardware finishes. Stick to what you like, and concentrate on matching your lifestyle.

Decorating Rooms Without Considering the Entire House

This last interior design mistake involves your house as a whole. Don’t approach decorating each room as if it is self-contained. Think of the flow from room to room, and try to keep the tone consistent. An area with pastels leading into a room with high contrast tends to feel jarring to the senses. Also, don’t use too many different types of flooring to prevent chopping up space.

As you can see, there are numerous pitfalls you can run into when designing your dream home. Sometimes the ideas you formulate in your head don’t look good in reality. Sometimes you copy decorating mistakes your parents made in your childhood house because that’s the primary point of reference you have. While your place of residence doesn’t have to look like a page out of the magazine, and there’s no one template for flawless interior design, you do want to put together a home you can be proud of and happy in.

Some decorating mistakes can be fixed by buying new furniture or selling, donating or discarding your old pieces. Maybe a family photo on the wall would bring personalization and warmth to a room, or maybe a dull space could be brought to life with a vibrant accent piece.

However, maybe a custom wood valance or specialty shutters are the updates you crave. If that’s the case, check out ZebraBlinds.ca. We’re the number one source for window treatments that are affordable, high quality, and easily customizable in Canada. Shop online today!

1 thought on “Common Decorating Mistakes and How to Fix Them

  1. You’re right about de-cluttering. We have a very wonderful Roman shades before but its beauty was overpowered with too much clutter in our home. So what we did is remove the extra photo frames mounted on the wall, rearranged the sofa, hid or threw too large boxes, replace the carpet, and many more. It was a lot of work, but it was worth it.

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