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5 Common Decorating Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Whether you’re decorating your first place or revamping a home you’ve lived in for decades, figuring out where to begin can feel overwhelming. To take away some of the guesswork, we’re walking you through five top decorating mistakes so you know what to look for, and (more importantly!) how to remedy them in your own home. With these five areas of design know-how under your belt, your home will feel beautifully, intentionally designed in a flash.

Erin Gates Design
Erin Gates Design

Problem #1: Too short curtains. If your curtains do not reach the floor or if the curtain hardware is attached to the window frame, your curtains are probably too short. The only exception being if you have a radiator blocking the curtain’s path to the floor — in which case, you may want to consider opting for blinds or roman shades rather than drapes.

The fix: Think of your curtains as not just a covering for your window, but a frame for these light-enhancing architectural features. When measuring for curtains, take your measurements high enough that you can hang the rods near the ceiling, and the drapes will just brush the floor. If there’s wall space on both sides of the window frame, consider hanging your curtains wider than the frame itself, so when you pull your curtains open the entire window is visible, maximizing the light.

Svenja Brucker for Decor8
Svenja Brucker
for Decor8

Problem #2: Too small rug. It’s tempting to go for a 5×8 foot or even a 4×6 rug because they tend to be more affordable. But the thing is, unless the room you are decorating is truly petite, or if you’re looking for an accent rug, those sizes are not usually big enough. Most standard size living rooms can easily handle an 8×10 rug, if not bigger.

The remedy: The simplest way to measure for a new rug is to set up the furniture arrangement in your space first, and then measure around it. There are all sorts of design quibbles about how many feet ought to be on or off your rug, but it’s never wrong to have a nice big rug that all of the main furniture can fit on. If you already own a pretty little rug, consider layering it over a less costly (but bigger) natural fiber rug to expand the sense of space.

Lighting 3 studio mcgee
Studio McGee

Problem #3: Not enough lighting. It’s a fact: a dark room feels smaller and less inviting. Including lots of light sources is second-nature to professional designers, but isn’t always so obvious to the rest of us. After all, isn’t the overhead light that came with the house, plus a table lamp enough? The answer is…nope, probably not.

The fix: At a minimum, aim to include at least three different light sources in each room. But if you really want to make your space feel magical, bump that number up to five. Overhead fixtures can be great, but consider swapping out the simple flush-mount light that came with the house for something more stylish (and with more lighting potential) like a pendant light. Floor lamps are handy for lighting dark corners, and sconces are fantastic in dark hallways and bedrooms.

 The Shade Store and Studio McGee
Studio McGee

Problem #4: Jumbled color palette. This usually comes down to indecision and lack of planning. You may have the best of intentions, but without a clear plan for your home’s color palette, chances are you’re going to end up with a mishmash of hues throughout your space, lending it an unintentionally cluttered look.

The fix: I find a camera to come in quite handy for determining which colors need to go — simply snap a few photos with your phone, and look at them with a keen eye for color. What jumps out at you? How many different colors can you spot in each room? Once you’ve examined your photos, go back into each space and edit out excess items in clashing colors until you’re down to neutrals plus one main hue.

Decor
Studio at One Kings Lane
via Studio McGee

Problem #5: Too many little decor items. This is what I like to think of as the Target trap. You’re strolling along, minding your own business, just trying to buy some cat food and laundry detergent when — bam! — sparkly, shiny, colorful little decor items call to you from those enticing endcaps and somehow end up in your cart. I know, I’ve been there! The problem with collecting too many small decor items is they end up losing their impact. From a distance, it reads as clutter. So let’s take a step back and edit our decor.

The fix: Less is more when it comes to decorative objects. Choose just a few key decor items for each room that have real presence. This could be a big mirror, a pair of cool vases, and one framed art print you love, for example. Fewer but larger decor items will make a stunning statement.

And that’s it! Put these 5 tips into practice, and your friends might just start asking you whether you hired a decorator.

Gorgeous Large Rugs

Rug shopping guide (clockwise from top left): Loloi Rugs Hygge in gray and mist; Loloi Rugs Hygge in smoke and taupe; Jaipur Rugs Genesis Atha in copper and gray; KAS Montreal Heidi in gray.

To shop more large rugs, shop all 8×10, 9×12 and 10×14 rugs.

For more inspiration from Laura, follow along with her at LauraGaskill.com!

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