5 Decorating Mistakes You May Not Even Realize You're Making

5 Decorating Mistakes You May Not Even Realize You're Making

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Nancy Mitchell
Apr 6, 2018
(Image credit: MaaHoo Studio/Stocksy)

Decorating — that is, making your home the best it can be, aesthetically — is really at the core of what we do here, but still, it's a weird thing to talk about. Decorating is an art, not a science, and it can be very hard to pin down. Even the best-intentioned decorators can make mistakes, and sometimes they're things you don't even realize you're doing. If you have a room in your house that just isn't quite coming together, ask yourself if you're making one of these five mistakes.

Thinking Everything Has to Match

This idea that everything has to match — from the curtains to the carpet to the bedspread to the throw pillows — might be a holdover from the 1950s and '60s. Keep everything to a single color scheme, the thinking went, and then you are really decorating. But to modern eyes, having everything in a room in the same color (or even the same color family or material) can feel a bit too regimented, a little bit Stepford Wife. Try to focus less on what matches and more on what "goes" — it is true that some things just don't look good together, but the best interiors mix things that are a little bit unexpected.

(Image credit: Raymond Forbes LLC/Stocksy)

Focusing Only on Color and Not on Texture

One of the things that really makes a room come alive is texture — but it's an element of decorating that often goes ignored. Adding just one or two textured things — a chunky blanket, a nubby rug, an ornate piece of antique furniture — can often make a room that feels a little bit dull really pop. Want to explore more? Here are seven great ways to add texture to your space.

Not Paying Attention to Scale

I know I've buried it in the middle of this article, but this might actually be the decorating mistake I see the most often, and one that even the most well-intentioned of folks commit. Thinking about proportion requires you to move beyond the things you put into your room and start thinking about the way those things relate to each other. One of my co-workers recently mentioned something I find brilliant, the two-thirds rule, which is that art hanging above a sofa (or a bed, or dresser) needs to be at least two-thirds as wide as the thing it hangs above. This is a good rubric for the proportionally challenged, and a good reminder that the way that objects in a room relate to each other matters. Having a lot of little things, whether it's art or end tables or lamps or what have you, can make a room feel cluttered and chaotic.

(Image credit: Patrick Perkins/Unsplash)

Filling a Room With Way Too Much Stuff

The temptation when you're decorating, especially when you're working with a smaller space, can be to squeeze in as many things as the space will allow. I am here to caution against this approach. All the lovely things that you fit into your space need room to breathe, and leaving a little more room than you probably think you need will help to allow all the things you love to really shine. It will also help your space seem less cluttered when you add in all the things of life — the shoes and books and stacks of mail that inevitably accumulate.

Not Looking at the Big Picture

Putting together a space can sometimes feel like a series of small, agonizing decisions. I know that I tend to get bogged down in the details, like finding the perfect mirror or the perfect lamp in the particular finish that I'm convinced is the right one. Sometimes it helps to take a step away, look at the big picture, and think: what does this room really need? Maybe your space has a lot of heavy elements, and it needs something light to balance them out. Maybe it needs a little contrast, or texture. Looking at the big picture might be just the thing you need to identify the one element that will bring everything together. (Here's a hint, take an actual picture with your phone of your space, and then look at it. You'd be surprised what you see in a photo that your eyes totally miss IRL.)

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