Home Decor

6 Home Decorating Mistakes

Decorating your home with artwork can be difficult. Marissa Sauer, interior designer and founder of Design MACS, recommends that each piece of artwork connect spatially to something else in the room. So, if you have a five-foot sofa, choose a four-foot painting.

1: Your Art Is Hung Too High

“The biggest mistake I see people making is hanging their art to high and centering it on the wall, not paying attention to their furniture at all,” says Leslie Craigie of Eye 4 Color. Art should feel connected to your space, not operating independently from the rest of your decor. Experts vary on the exact height, but maintain that the center of your piece should be at eye level (roughly 57” to 70” above the ground). “Art really should create a vignette with your furniture,” she explains. “If you’re working with a chest and you have a piece of artwork that’s going to hang above it, you want to marry them, so I want to make sure that it’s hung low enough that [the group] feels like a unit.” At the same time, be careful to leave enough clearance between artwork and furniture. “If you’re hanging something over a piece of furniture, such as a console, credenza, or sofa, you’ll want the bottom of the artwork to be six to eight inches above the edge of the piece of furniture,

2: Furniture Shoved to the Wall

Anyone who has had to yell from a couch marooned on one side of the living room to a chair exiled on the other has seen this mistake in action. “In the middle of the room, there’s nothing going on. They could do cartwheels!” Craigie says. Instead she recommends creating conversation zones, with furniture grouped together to promote people actually chatting. “It’s important for the sofa to be arranged so that you can maximize the view if you want to see the TV, but not every chair in the room has to be turned to see the TV. You can always move the chair or turn yourself a little bit.” Don’t fear floating your couch or chairs out into an empty space either. Just leave about three feet between grouped pieces of furniture for people to pass between and about 18 inches between seating and your coffee table.

3: Fake Flowers

If you want a lush look without a luxury budget, it can be hard to resist the urge for faux florals. Unfortunately even the best versions won’t fool anyone, and they don’t provide the life in your home that real flowers do. Instead of letting silk or plastic versions collect dust, opt for small houseplants that don’t need much tending, like succulents or snake or spider plants. Bring in even more freshness with small arrangements of fresh fruit, like a cheery and useful bowl of lemons and limes. Or for big impact, opt for dried materials like bamboo stalks or pussy willows to add some height.

4: The Wrong Lighting

Overhead lighting just isn’t enough. “Lighting a room is important,” Juneja says. “Relying on only one source of light per room makes the room feel cold and unfinished.” He recommends providing lighting for the many moods and functions you might have in a space. “Using the living room as an example, it’s important to ‘layer’ your lighting by incorporating several different types of lighting: ambient, task, and accent,” Juneja explains. “Varying the lighting keeps the eye moving around the room at different levels, and helps you appreciate the room, its textures and colors, in greater detail.” He recommends choosing table lamps for afternoon and dusk, with task lamps, like reading lights near armchairs, for nighttime needs. One way to get even more options: Craigie recommends installing a dimmer switch to get more from your overhead. The inexpensive and DIY-able swap (around $30 and easy to do on a 120-volt up and down switch) adds an elegant touch.

5: Proportion Problems

Tip the scale in your favor. Professional decorators take care to ensure paired pieces of furniture and decor are in the right proportion to each other. “In the bedroom, buy the bed and mattress first,” Juneja advises. “Once assembled, measure the height from the floor to the top of the mattress. Buy nightstands that are either two inches taller or one inch lower than that height.” For the living room, you should choose your sofa and chairs, then move onto picking side tables one or two inches above or below the arm heights. “Before buying a coffee table, measure your seat height,” Juneja explains. “Most sofas and chairs have a seat height of 18”, so in that case, purchase a coffee table that is 16” high. If you have a lower seat at around 15-16”, buy a lower coffee table.” Then be sure accessories fit the scale as well, avoiding mistakes like hulking lamps on small side tables.

6: Pulling the Rug Out

Don’t skimp on what goes underfoot. “I see people that use too small of a rug all of the time,” Craigie laments. “A rug is an expensive feature, and people are nervous about making that kind of commitment.” Craigie and Juneja both stress choosing a rug that anchors your room by ensuring all the furniture in the group sits at least halfway on the rug. “Often times, even on a carpet surface, I like to use an area rug to create that conversation area in a nice way and stabilize the furniture,” Craigie says. “It adds pattern and adds interest, which is important, too.” To keep your rug from rolling up, Juneja advises, “always buy a thick rug pad so the edges of the rug waterfall over the pad instead of curling up.” In the rest of your house, layer on rugs for added comfort and interest. In the bathroom, skip rugs fit to hug your toilet and opt instead for rectangular options that offer you a soft landing in more of the space. A runner in the kitchen makes the most popular room in your house feel less industrial and more inviting.

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