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Common Decorating Mistakes, Solved!

You have the accessories, the furniture, and the color on the walls. But is something not quite right? One of these common decorating problems may be to blame. But don't fear -- these mistakes are easy to fix.


    Everything in this slideshow

    • Mistake #1- Poor Lighting

      We've all had to get over the tendency to light a room with one bright overhead and a big clicky wall switch. The warmest way to light a room is in layers. Make a plan as you would with a furniture layout, with task lighting for work areas, accent lamps to add color and personality, and put that overhead light on a dimmer to change the mood of the room throughout the day.

    • Mistake #2- Wall-Hugging

      Maybe that’s not the official name for lining up every piece of furniture along the wall, but you get the picture. One layout alternative is to find a focal point in the room -- entertainment center, fireplace, each other for conversation -- and build your design around that. Move furniture away from the walls for a more intimate feel, with chairs no more than eight feet apart to encourage talk. Position a table within reach of every seating piece, with traffic lanes several feet wide to allow easy movement.

    • Mistake #3- Cluttered Decor

      It's easy to pack your rooms with way too much stuff, but that look crosses over easily to clutter (and the next step is hoarding, so beware). When every surface is covered with tchotchkes, nothing stands out as special. Solve the issue by clearing off every surface in a room, one by one, and returning only half the things on it. Be your own tough editor and store the objects that didn't make the cut this time. You can bring them out next season -- or make a donation trip to the secondhand store.

    • Mistake #4- Too Much of One Color

      Whitewash walls in an art gallery serve a purpose: standing down in deference to the colorful beauties on the wall. But our own living spaces deserve a good dose of color variation. Even if it’s just a single deep-blue pillow amid a sea of neutral beige, adding a little ping of your own will spice up any room in a snap.

    • Mistake #5- High Art

      Few things personalize a space like the things you choose for the walls. But hanging stuff can be tricky. The first step is to figure out the correct hanging height. Hang your art at the average person’s height -- roughly 57 inches from the floor -- so that most eyes can look straight and see it comfortably.

    • Mistake #6- Disjointed Frames

      Maybe you've found the prints or photos that you love, but aren't sure how to frame them to fit your room's style. Unless you're really good with mix-and-match looks, keep it simple and pick one style or frame color for all. A streamlined look takes the guesswork out of the design and allows the viewer to focus on the art itself.

    • Mistake #7- Too Studied

      So you’ve pored over the magazines, done your shopping, and put together a room that should technically be stunning -- but, well, it’s not. What’s missing? Maybe a little bit of you. Add a few pieces that have a warm backstory, stack beloved books on the coffee table, or layer in some photos of the people you love. It’s possible to make a room look too slick, more like a furniture shop than a home. Think about what speaks to your heart, even if its a little pop of the Orange Dreamsicle color you loved as a kid, and add that personal touch.

    • Mistake #8- Ignoring Scale and Proportion

      Does your room feel sort of underwhelming? Or way too crowded? You may have an issue with scale, which means the visual size of things, and how they look in relation to each other and the space. For your pieces to stand out, rooms need big things and little things, tall things and short things. It’ll make things look a lot more interesting.

    • Mistake #9- Lack of Storage

      Two words: storage problems. We all seem to have them. Take a look around your room and see where you can comfortably add more places to put things away -- the easier to reach the better. Consider bare wall space first -- anywhere to mount shelving or cabinetry? Can you add side tables with drawers? Any missed opportunities for built-ins? In bedrooms, consider building shelving around the headboard, and adding storage boxes beneath the bed.

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      Mistake #10- Wrong-Size Curtains

      Window treatments are readily available at most box stores, so replacing curtains that are too long or too short is a weekend day away. For quick hanging, choose tab-top or grommet styles, which slide easily onto the rod. To find the right panel length, measure from the floor to just above the window casing. Mount the rod to match panel length, rather than the other way around, as you would for custom-made curtains. Panels should be as wide as the window and rod brackets mounted six inches outside the frame so panels can be pushed away from the glass easily.

    • How to Hang Curtains
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      How to Hang Curtains

      The trick to hanging curtains correctly? Start with taking good measurements. Watch and learn more.

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      Mistake #11- Tiny Rugs

      We know it's more expensive to buy the big rug. But the postage-stamp look really brings down a room. Luckily, there are great choices out there at a wide variety of price points. In the dining room, measure the width and length of it and add 18-24 inches to each of the four sides to allow extra room for the chairs (include your table leaf in the calculation). For most spaces, that means a 5x8-foot rug is too small, so look for something between 6x9 and 9x12 feet.

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      Next Slideshow How to Arrange Furniture: No-Fail Tricks

      How to Arrange Furniture: No-Fail Tricks

      Arranging furniture is one of the most daunting -- yet most important -- design decisions. These common scenarios will teach you the basics.
      Begin Slideshow »



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