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Are You Making These Decorating Mistakes?

Everybody makes mistakes. It’s as true in design as it is in life. Even the best made plans can have a spanner thrown into works. Today, I'm going to share decorating ideas for your home by taking you through some common design mistakes and teaching you how to avoid them.

Which one are you??

How To Decorate Like a Pro

The Dreamer....

You know how you want your home to look and believe that somehow it will magically come together. We’re all for dreaming big, but a dream without a plan will always be just a wish.

Having a vision is important when deciding on a decorating project. But not having a detailed plan is a big mistake. Huge.

Mistake #1: Not having a plan

Every interior designer, no matter how big or small the project, starts with a plan. Having a plan is the golden rule of design.

Think of it as preparing to make the most delicious meal. You start with a list of ingredients and think about how long it will take to prepare, cook and serve. This is totally crucial information if you want the outcome to be #masterchef.

Imagine you can’t find the most important ingredient, or a dinner guest has an allergy you've just found out about. Now you’ll want to revise the menu until you get it just right.

The same applies to putting together the home of your dreams. Every aspect, from paint colour to the shape and placement of a rug, needs to be considered.

If you want your space to function and feel like home, you need to ask yourself what the purpose of the space is and who will be using it. A family room might need plenty of seating, storage for games and devices, throws to get cosy when watching TV, or a side table and lamp for a reading nook.

Will you be entertaining in the space? Exercising? Doing yoga? Before starting any project, always make a list of how the room will be used and everything you’ll need in order to accomplish this.

Take proper measurements of the entire space, especially if you are choosing new furniture. Draft a floor plan and you’ll be able to determine what size furniture you want before you actually go shopping.

By having a detailed plan, you can confidently begin the process of choosing pieces that enhance the space and function well with everything else in the room.

In addition to making lists of your wants and needs, you could also create a mood board of decorating ideas for your home.

By gathering photos of furniture, curtains, linens, cushions, rugs, paint colours or wallpaper patterns, you don’t have to worry whether everything will flow together. You’ll be able to see immediately before you start shopping.

How To Decorate Like a Pro

The Superhero

Believing that “you’re all that”, and more. In this scenario, you’ve decided to take on a giant design task such as bathroom redesign or giving the family room a total refresh (new furniture, new paint, a few custom built-ins).

You think you can tackle an entire design project on your own. After all, you’ve birthed children, you’ve made it through worse. While we love your enthusiasm, it’s likely to be short lived, often resulting in another common decorating mistake…

Mistake #2: Trying to tackle a design project alone.

Even professional interior designers like to have a second opinion. Nobody’s perfect. You may be great at DIY and have tons of decorating ideas for the home. We don’t doubt your many talents. Perhaps you’ve decided you’re going to tackle your kitchen cabinets and give them a brand new look. But just because you enjoy painting and have a great eye for colour doesn’t mean you wouldn’t benefit from professional advice.

Kitchens need specific paint designed to withstand the heat, smoke and odors associated with cooking. You’d want to know which products offer the best finish and are easiest to keep clean. Always do your research and reach out to designers or experts in a particular trade. If the budget permits and you are having someone else do the work, ask for references before you hire them.

If your superpowers need a boost, we can help you design dream spaces, click here.

how to decorate like a pro

The Contortionist

Looks like the furniture you ordered is not the right size. In this scenario, you suddenly try to convince yourself it’s fine. You can make it work. You’ll just manoeuver around that oversized sofa like some sort of contortionist. Just remember that Aunt Agnes might not be as limber. Leading us to…

Mistake #3: The furniture doesn’t fit the room.

Remember that golden rule we talked about above? If you’re making mistake #3, you’ve already made mistake #1 of not having a plan.

The plan involves every aspect of your design which of course includes measuring and knowing every inch of the space you’re working with. Before purchasing furniture, always visualise it in your mind and draw it out on paper.

That gorgeous sectional sofa you have your eye on may provide you with a ton of seating but if the only logical spot for it happens to block the entrance to the dining room, it may be time to think again. We’d also like to mention here that furniture that just barely fits and is difficult to move around is still a mistake.

In addition to ensuring your furniture will fit into the room, consider the path to getting it there. Will it fit round a bend or go up or down the stairs? Every turn in your hallway or bend on your staircase can have you rethinking your options.

how to decorate like a pro

The Hostess With The Mostest

You love entertaining and take pride in your possessions. But having a huge collection of antiques or artwork doesn’t mean you have to have everything on display. The same applies to using grand objects in small spaces. An elegant chandelier looks stunning in an entryway with a high period ceiling—not so grand when you can’t see past it while having a conversation at the dining table.

Mistake #4: Blowing things out of proportion

A basic principle of design is scale and proportion. Understanding how the size of an item in comparison to other items in the space, and the overall size of the room, has a big impact on how the space will look.

Scale refers to an object’s size and how it fits into the space. For example, a tiny dining table in a grand dining room would not be the right scale. A grand dining room requires a huge table to fit the space.

Proportion is how the size of an object relates to the size of other objects in the space. For example, the tiny dining table paired with tiny dining chairs would be in proportion. Large bulky chairs paired with the tiny table would be out of proportion.

how to decorate like a pro

Credit: Sims Hilditch

how to decorate like a pro

The “Bradley Walsh” of the colour wheel:

While it’s always a thrill to spin the colour wheel and hope for the best, choosing colours shouldn’t be left to chance. 

Mistake #5: Choosing a paint colour without considering all the components of the room.

It’s fun to collect paint swatches every time you’re in B+Q, but seeing it on a swatch and having it on the wall are two very different things.

If you find a paint colour you think you like, consider what else is already in the room that won’t be changing. Does the colour you’ve chosen for the wall complement the colours in your 'not so easy to switch' sofa?

You definitely don’t have to be matchy matchy. A neutral paint colour such as grey, white or beige can be a safe bet if you like to change your décor often. Remember that you can always inject pops of colour with decorative accents, artwork, cushions and throws.

When trying to decide between a few colours, you may want to consider purchasing sample pots to see the colour in the room prior to making a purchase.

Colour will be affected by natural light in the room as well as artificial light. What looks grey in the tin or on the swatch can look lilac, green, yellow or even blue on a walls due to the undertones (I've been there). Lighting plays a massive role in the interpretation of a paint colour, which is why testing first is always a good idea.

how to decorate like a pro

The Drill Sergeant

Line ‘em up! There’s something to be said for putting things in order and keeping things in line, but when it comes to design, being too “regimented” is a mistake.

Mistake #6: Lining things up against a wall.

For years people would place their sofa against the longest wall in the living room, or the headboard against the main wall of a bedroom. While these are still common focal points, it’s no longer the norm when you have larger, more open or airy layouts. Even the smallest room can have a sofa pulled away from the wall for a coffee table, or to allow airflow behind it. The back of a sectional can divide a room or a corner sectional can be pulled slightly away from a wall to make room for a floor lamp.

If you’re unsure of how this will look in your space and you’re thinking to yourself, “that will be weird”, try it! Pull that furniture away from the wall, even just a little bit and see what you think.

Even a few inches can be enough to give the room a perception of more space, cramming things up to your wall makes it feel like your furniture is too big and you don't have the space.

There’s no need to line it up.

You can create a conversation area in the centre of the room if the room is large enough and it doesn’t block the natural flow of traffic. In open floor plans and industrial settings an oversized headboard or sofa can even serve as a divider that designates separate spaces.

Welcome to 2020—being “out of line” is actually a good thing!

how to decorate like a pro

The Mother of Twins

“I’ll take two..... of everything!”

Mistake #7: Tipping the scale with too much symmetry

While good design should consist of a balanced and symmetrical look, there is such a thing as going overboard. You can create symmetrical balance in a room by arranging items the same way on both sides of a real or imaginary line. For example, having two bookcases, two wall sconces or two mirrors on either side of a fireplace.

But don’t go overboard.

A room with balanced symmetry is pleasing to the eye, unless you double up on everything (2 chairs, 2 lamps, 2 mirrors, 2 pictures… you get the idea.)

how to decorate like a pro

Credit: Sims Hilditch

how to decorate like a pro

'The Magician'

Pulling the rug out from beneath the design with poor rug placement. Ta-da… big mistake!

Mistake #8: Using an area rug that is too large, too small or improperly placed

An area rug is a lovely way to cosy up or beautify a space. Most living rooms need at least an 2400mm x 300mm area rug to anchor the seating area. But how should you place it?

When you have a sofa against the wall, ensure that at least the front legs of all furniture pieces grouped together are on the rug. Skip the area rug that is only beneath the coffee table. Your feet should always touch an area rug no matter where you are seated in the conversation grouping. If not, you need a larger rug.

A bedroom area rug should extend from the bottom 2/3 of the bed and about 2 feet around each side. It can be placed outside of the end tables, or all furniture can be on the rug.

how to decorate like a pro

Now that you know which mistakes to avoid when decorating a space, you can gather some of your favourite decorating ideas for the home and get started on that Plan!

And if you need a helping hand designing your home then get on the waiting list here to join hundreds of home lovers cutting through the design and decision overwhelm to create gorgeous homes.

Natalie xx

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how to decorate like a pro


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