Interior Design 101: 5 Rookie Mistakes You'll Never Make Again

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Take heart, rookie decorators; everyone needs a little push once in a while when it comes to finding their personal style. We've learned some very helpful lessons through trial and (a lot of) error so don't follow in our footsteps. Avoid these common first-time decorating mistakes.

1. Catalogue Crush — You know when you walk into someone's home and it feels sorta familiar? Like you've seen it before, say, in your mailbox? Even if you love a certain retailer, every room needs a little source variety. Try saving up for one great piece from a higher end retailer than you'd normally frequent, or go the other way and stalk craigslist until you can add some vintage interest into your room's decor. However you do it, learn to master the art of the mix!

2. Unfriendly Furniture — Think of the furniture in your room like friends at a party — the wallflowers don't have much fun. It's a common mistake to park your sofa or chairs on a wall or in a corner, but it's usually not the way to encourage intimate conversation. Imagine yourself doing various activities in your room and group your furniture accordingly — sitting in your reading chair usually calls for a table to stash your drink or snack, your armoire needs a bench or chair close by to lay out your outfit. As long as you keep a reasonable flow, you can't go wrong with a cluster.

3. Loathsome Lighting — An overhead fixture is not your friend. Allowing yourself to exist in anything other than golden, layered lighting is a huge rookie mistake. A good rule of thumb is that you need at least three separate light sources in any room (and that ceiling monstrosity doesn't count). Vary the heights and strengths of your lighting to make even your cheapie basics look expertly expensive.

4. Atrocious Artwork — We're not knocking your taste in art (by all means, hang what you love) but please make sure to hang it properly. No one wants to crank their necks to see your lovelies. Art that's too high or low is a dead giveaway of a decorating rookie. Eye-level is the goal so, unless you hang out with a lot of giants, aim for the middle of your piece (not the hook, that will be higher) to be about 57'' high. Here's a handy guide.

5. Forgetting Your Gut — This idea can manifest itself in many ways. Are you using hand-me-downs you hate just because you feel you "should" keep them? Did you let someone talk you into buying something for your home because it was cheap/practical/necessary to them but it's not right for you? Did you pick a wall color after seeing a beautiful, inspirational image, but something about it is just wrong? If something isn't working, you must change it! Even if you spent time and money to get it that way, not addressing what you know isn't working is costing you even more in energy and satisfaction with your home. Don't get stuck in the error of your trial and error. Be bold! Fix your mistakes asap to keep your momentum on track.

(Image: Adrienne Breaux/Allison Burke's Modern Mix)

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