6 Decorating Mistakes That Make Your Home Look Messier Than It Really Is

You want your home to feel cozy, comfortable, and inviting, but it's easy to go overboard on decorating and end up with a messy, cluttered space. Here are six decorating mistakes to avoid for a polished look.

You work hard to keep your home clean on a daily basis, so the last thing you want is for your decorating choices to contribute to a messy-looking room. Although clearing out clutter is the first step to a polished, orderly look, the way you furnish and decorate the room is also critical to its overall neatness. Sometimes simple decorating mistakes that date your home can also make the design appear disheveled or downright chaotic. When something isn't quite right, it can detract from the design and interfere with the overall mood of the room. Luckily, an over-decorated house is often easily fixable with a few tweaks. Simply swapping out accessories or rearranging furnishings can help bring order to the room and maximize your tidying efforts.

To help you create a space that looks clean and organized, we've compiled a list of decorating mistakes that could be making your home appear messy. By steering clear of these common issues, you'll find that it's easier to maintain order and achieve a tidy look.

white shelves hutch
Erin Kunkel

1. Relying Too Much on Open Storage

Open shelves are a great place to store books and display collectibles or art, but this type of storage works best when it's not overcrowded. When decorating a bookcase or built-in shelves, don't pack every inch of space with books and accessories. To achieve a cleaner look, edit down the arrangement so you can leave some open space between items. You should also avoid using open storage to manage electronics and cables or to hold games, movies, and toys. These items are best stashed away inside cabinets, boxes (like these shelf-size woven Better Homes & Gardens baskets, $18, Walmart), or baskets for a less cluttered effect.

modern living room with teal-blue walls and black window trim
Jay Wilde

2. Using Too Many Colors

Decorating with too many colors is guaranteed to make a home look cluttered. Use one or two hues combined with neutral colors to give your home a cohesive, relaxed look. This living room features various shades of blue to create a gorgeous, cohesive space. The neutral rug, window coverings, and furnishings allow the room to breathe while making it appear more spacious and open.

dark teal living room
Marty Baldwin

3. Adding Too Many Accent Pillows

Avoid a haphazard and untidy look by limiting the number of accent pillows on a sofa or bed. This living room looks pulled together and well-decorated because the sofa isn't laden with piles of decorative pillows. Two or three accent pillows on each end of the sofa are typically the perfect amount to decorate a room with beautiful color and pattern. Anchor the arrangement with a neutral pillow that goes with everything. We love these woven ivory Better Homes & Gardens pillows ($25, Walmart).

white shiplap living room
Edmund Barr

4. Pushing Furniture Against Walls

Arranging all of your furniture up against the walls can make the space look cluttered and messy. The solution? Opt for smaller pieces and pull the furniture away from the walls and toward the center of the room, as in this living room seating arrangement. This grouping of four chairs around a coffee table creates the perfect conversation area. Ground the furniture with an area rug to tie the arrangement together.

living room furniture brown couch striped chairs
David Tsay

5. Placing Too Much Decor on Tables

Too many decorative accents on the surface of a table will make a room look cluttered. Instead, edit the number of accessories, then decorate the table with one or two groupings of items. First, pare down what you already have on the tabletop. Only display what you love and what is functional (for example, a small dish for storing car keys and sunglasses) and remove the rest. Group many small objects in a jar or bowl or place on a tray. A textured tray (like this timeless hammered brass Better Homes & Gardens tray, $30, Walmart) adds contrast to the table. Elevate small objects on a stack of two or three books to give it a purposeful look.

Blue-themed bedroom with blue artwork
Adam Albright

6. Hanging Pictures Randomly

Pictures and wall art hung in a haphazard fashion across a wall create a chaotic look that can overwhelm the space. Instead, group pictures in a gallery wall arrangement to instantly make the room appear more organized and balanced. The art hung above this bed, for example, demonstrates how several pieces can be hung to create a visually pleasing and curated look.

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