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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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Spot On Dalmatian: A Unique Animal Print In The Home

Lilly Bunn Interiors
Lilly Bunn Interiors

When you think of trendy animal print patterns, I’m guessing Dalmatian doesn’t make the list. But oh, it really should! Not only does this pattern provide a dynamic, bold statement, it also magically maintains the neutral appeal that other animal prints have. That means it’s a really versatile look and works great in small spaces like a bathroom, a small hallway, or even lining the back of a linen closet or bar cabinet.

Courtney Apple
Courtney Apple

A Dalmatian print is modern and graphic – an edgier take on the classic polka dot, if you will. At the moment this print is really enjoying its time in the spotlight with lots of wallpaper and fabric options readily available. There are also plenty of DIY projects to be had if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for in stores. Most projects, like the pair of dining chairs above, only require a Sharpie marker and a willing hand with some time to spare.

Genevieve Garruppo
Genevieve Garruppo

Dalmatian manages to pull off the rare combination of feeling pulled together and chic, yet playful and fun. I really like what an unexpected surprise it is in this casual dining space. Thanks to removable wallpaper, the pop behind the shelves doesn’t have to be permanent, and the same goes for the chair cushions with so much affordable fabric by the yard readily available. The simple palette of black and white works so well, but this space would look just as fantastic with royal blue shelves or a bright red dining table.

Domaine
via Domaine

When in doubt go against the expected and flip it on its head – in this case, black on white reverse Dalmatian! When partnered with a large and bold pattern, like the tile floor in this bathroom, it really shines as a neutral with some power behind it. By keeping the rest of the room simple with glossy black and white the two patterns doesn’t need to compete with one another.

Bed Bath & Beyond
Bed Bath & Beyond

If you’re still not convinced, or maybe just not quite ready to take a diving leap into full-on Dalmatian, think about how you might incorporate the print in smaller ways. Throw pillows or sham covers, a cozy blanket, dish towels or napkins. Floor rugs are also a smart way to dip your toe into any trend you’d like to experiment with, here are a few favorites.

Dalmation Spot Rugs

1/ Artistic Weavers Stella Dalmation   2/ Surya Moroccan Shag

For more inspiration from Kelly, follow along with her at Design Crush!

Looking for other animal print rugs? Shop all animal print rugs.

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10 Things to Do Now for a Cozier, Happier Fall Home

Fall is here! It’s time for crackling fires, good books and cozy gatherings around the table with friends. Check these 10 to-dos off your list to enjoy this glorious season to its fullest.

Fall Mantel
The Lily Pad Cottage

1. Decorate the mantel. A few simple touches are all it takes to bring your mantel into the current season. Place a cluster of pumpkins or gourds on one end, and balance the arrangement with a few candles on the other end. Odd numbered groupings look the most natural, so aim to include three, five, or seven items on each side.

2. Load up your to-be-read list with great titles. Fall is one of the best times of year to curl up with a good book, so be sure you’re stocked up on titles you can’t wait to dive into. Three home-related books I’m looking forward to reading this fall include Cozy Minimalist Home by Myquillyn Smith, Whiskey in a Teacup by Reese Witherspoon, and Homebody by Joanna Gaines.

3. Stock up on candles. What’s cozier than the warm flicker of real candlelight? Stock up on your favorite candles so you always have something on hand throughout the season. Choose one or two in a scent you love, but keep the rest unscented to avoid your home smelling like a Yankee Candle shop.

Get Ready for Fall
The Lily Pad Cottage | Domino | House & Home | House & Home

4. Make room in your coat closet. Fall and winter are seasons when you might find yourself entertaining more often than usual. Do yourself a favor and make some room in your coat closet now, so guests have a spot to hang their coats and bags.

5. Get your chimney cleaned. Creosote from old fires builds up over time inside chimneys, and can potentially cause a house fire if it’s not cleaned out. So if you have a wood-burning fireplace, getting a pro to clean and inspect it every year is essential — make the call and set up an appointment before you light that first crackling fire.

6. Choose a signature hot drink. Having something hot and delicious to offer party guests and drop-in visitors is a delight. Choose a favorite hot drink and make it your signature, simply by keeping the ingredients needed in stock in your fridge or pantry. A few favorites to consider for fall include chai tea lattes, hot spiced apple cider, mexican hot chocolate and mulled wine.

Fall Dining
House & Home

7. Set a pretty table. If you know you’ll be entertaining this fall, take some of the stress out of preparing by doing a table setting test-run now. Pull out all of your linens, silverware, and special glasses, and make note of anything you’re missing. For a special touch on the day of the party, consider adding one simple natural element to each place setting. Take a cue from the table shown here and set a pear on each plate and a sprig of greenery and berries in a shot glass. Then pile up foraged pine cones in a pretty bowl, light a few candles and let the complements roll in.

8. Make a master list of go-to fall recipes. If you find it challenging to get weeknight dinners on the table, you are not alone. Make things a bit easier by sitting down with a hot mug of tea on a weekend with all of your favorite cookbooks and recipe sites pulled up, and take the time to create a master list of favorite fall recipes. Beside the name of each recipe, simply note down where to find it (i.e., page number in cookbook or website url) and whether you’ve made it before. Then, when it’s time to plant the week’s menus, pull out your list and start picking.

9. Organize the spices. Are your spices a jumbled mess? If so, make organizing the spices a mini-project and commit to getting it done in one go. Check expiration dates and toss out spices that have been gathering dust for years, wipe bottles clean, and neatly place back on the shelf or spice rack. Your future holiday cooking self will thank you!

Fall Bedroom
House & Home

10. Swap out bedding + rugs for something cozier. Climbing into a cozy bed at the end of a long day is one of life’s great simple pleasures. Make sure your experience is as warm and comfy as can be by swapping out cooler summer bedding with soft, warm layers in rich, autumnal hues — think flannel sheets, sumptuous velvet pillows, and cozy wool and knit blankets.

Replace a tired old rug for something cozy and warm that you can sink your toes into; my vote goes for something soft in a fall-inspired color palette. My top four favs are below — any one of these beautiful rugs would look right at home in a cozy living room or dining room throughout fall and winter.

Cozy Rugs for Fall

Rug Shopping Guide (clockwise from top left): United Weavers Monaco St Martin in garnet; Oriental Weavers Andorra in blue; Oriental Weavers Andorra in red and gold; Kaleen Helena in paprika, linen, steel blue and mushroom.

For more fall-inspired rugs, shop all of our new fall rug arrivals.

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

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Defining a Mini Library

Livet Hemma
Livet Hemma

The moment you set foot inside my home, you know I’m a book lover. They’re everywhere. On shelves and benches in the living room and entryway, stacked on my dresser, and even more hidden inside boxes in the attic. While there’s nothing more I’d love than to have an entire room as a dedicated library, I satisfy my need to display books by creating little nooks full of them here and there. Long after being read, your favorite books can serve other purposes – two large stacks of mine even bring the television up to eye-level on top of a low console, and I love how the Ikea desk above replaces one side’s legs with a tower.

Surrey Homes
Surrey Homes

This glass-fronted armoire makes for the perfect book nook, keeping your tomes protected and in full view at the same time. A bonus that any book lover will surely appreciate is that they’d also be kept dust-free! Wouldn’t a wall of three or four mismatched armoires filled to the brim with books make for a beautiful compact library that makes a statement? The wheels are turning…

Vaaleanpunainen Hirsitalo
Vaaleanpunainen Hirsitalo

If lots and lots of books aren’t your thing but you’d like to hang onto and show off your favorites, then this idea might be the one for you – a slim but sturdy set of shelves turned on its side. Fill the cubbies with the books and magazines you already own, then add to it as your collection grows! When the shelves fill up make freeform book stacks on top of the piece and create a real focal point of the room it sits in.

Curbed
Curbed

If coffee table books are more the type of library you want to create, consider taking shelves of any type out of the equation. Fill your empty fireplace and display their spines, stack them on the floor against an empty wall and create your own art installation, or consider filling a bar cart to make a makeshift library on wheels. Any little nook or cranny in your home can become a mini library with a little creativity.

Elle Decor Espana
Elle Decor España

As can any piece of deep furniture house some of your collection – a desk, a console table, an armchair, an end table. Not every book needs to be in the same place if you don’t have the room for it and you can think out of the box. Help define your mini library space by adding a rug, some of my latest favorites are shown below:

Rugs-Direct-Collage

1/ Kaleen Rachael Ray Highline   2/ Company C Handwoven Chromatic Plaid
3/ Surya Mountain   4/ Company C Hand Tufted Diamond Lattice
5/ Karastan Cosmopolitan French Affair   6/ Surya Jax

For more inspiration from Kelly, follow along with her at Design Crush!

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