How to Avoid 5 More Decorating Mistakes

We have all make a decorating mistake or two in our lifetime, so here are the secrets to avoiding them in the future.

decoratingmistakestopAs everyone knows, the best way to avoid disaster is to know what causes it! The same goes for your home’s decorating. There are certain “disasters” that are so noticeable to the trained eye, that even lovely furnishings can’t disguise them.

Let’s start with the most common “disaster”. (Which by the way is an extreme description for a little mistake, but I do want you to pay attention!) This first mistake deals with the hanging of art in the home. This is one of Matt’s pet peeves. It’s not just about how high many people hang their artwork, it’s also about the scale of the art piece to the wall and surrounding furnishings.

Always hang a piece of art at eye level while viewing. In other words, in a dining room, art may be hung lower since it will be viewed from a seated position in most cases. Hang artwork over a sofa or chair with just enough space between the top edge of the furniture and the lower edge of the frame so the art appears to be a part of the furniture arrangement, not hovering above it.

When Matt and I try to hang a piece of art together, he’s tall and I’m short, so we compromise. Somewhere in between is always just fine.

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picture is too small

Decorating Mistakes-2Picture is just right

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Scale too is critical. If you have a small framed picture, look for a small wall in your home, a wall space near a lamp and a chair, a backsplash or a similar scale area to hang it. Another option would be to group it with other coordinating art pieces or wall sconces to increase the overall size of the “art” to be hung over a large sofa, buffet, headboard or fireplace.

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The second most common “disaster” in decorating is the habit we all have of pushing the furniture up against the walls of a room. Our parents did it, our grandparents did it, and for some reason, (habit), we do it too. However, there is a better, in fact much more interesting solution, “Shari’s patented angle” as Matt would call it!

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Try placing the furniture in your room in the center of the floor space in a pleasing, perhaps even an angled presentation. The best way to determine if this is even a possibility in your room is to draw a floor plan to scale and try your furniture in different positions around the room. Pencil in the traffic patterns first and place the furniture so as not to create road blocks or unsafe conditions. Though this does work, I have heard of women inviting their friends over for a “Dessert and Decorating” party. This usually occurs when their husband is gone and it’s a perfect time to get the creative juices flowing with several people there to help you out.

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You also have the muscle to move things around until you have a whole new look to your home. (This would be the perfect spot for Matt to chime in about purchasing furniture moving pads. They go under the legs of heavy furniture and make furniture arranging a snap.) It really can be fun!

Furniture Moving Pads  (check out this video on how to move furniture)

Decorating Mistakes-7Disaster number three, don’t even show anyone your window treatments unless they cover these three issues. The window treatments take care of any privacy concerns, they control the amount of light you do or do not want to come in, and they make sense with the design of the room.

Layered window treatments are best for controlling privacy and light…plus they’re stylish! What do I mean by layered window treatments? Well, start on the inside or the frame of the window and select either a blind, shade or sheers to combat privacy and light issues. Choose a style that reflects the casual or elegant style you have developed for your room.

There are some exceptions to this rule of course. If your windows open to woods or a fence or there is an awning outside, you may not have these problems. Even so, mock shades that work as inside mounted valances can add layering to soften the windows but not decrease the view or the light coming in.

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For the second layer, consider draperies of some sort. They are lovely over the top of any shade, blind, sheer or valance. They can be simple stationery panels or full draperies. The length may vary but the finished look they create is well worth the effort.

Don’t skimp when it comes to lighting! No, you can’t light up any room with one lamp. Generally, most rooms need at least three fixtures to light the corners of the room, not including the entrance corner. It’s best to consider the three types of lighting when determining what to add to a room.

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For general light, which helps you to move around the room but isn’t necessarily the most attractive lighting in the room, over head lights or center ceiling fixtures can work. Consider the tasks in the room to determine your task lighting needs. You may need a chandelier for over a game table, several table lamps for reading, and a piano lamp for reading music. Don’t skimp anywhere here. These lights can double as your accent lights but it’s best to consider accents separately.

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For instance, do you have lighting over all your artwork? How about wall washers in the ceiling to graze the brick fireplace? Any floor lighting that dapples the ceiling as it travels through plantings or floral arrangements? This is accent lighting and it can make a dull room, simply fabulous!

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Matt’s favorite lighting project is to install dimmer switches. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and turn off the power to the switch at your electrical box. Once those precautions are out of the way, you can add real ambiance to any room in just minutes by adding dimmers.

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Perhaps the last major “disaster” in decorating is using either too many small accessories or none at all. There’s a difference between accessorizing and cluttering up a room! Another of Matt’s pet peeves! If you do have many small items, arrange them in large groups or collections in a small wall mounted shelf system, on a round table, or in a glass accessory cabinet. Spread around the room they have no impact at all and make the space look cluttered. Large pieces generally have more impact and give the room a finished appearance.

Another rule of thumb is that if your furniture is busy in shape or pattern, use large uncomplicated art and accessories. If your furnishings are plain and simple; collections, multiple pieces of art and patterned pillows or throws can give the room some balance and a bit of punch.

You know, I said that accessorizing was the last disaster, but I’ve thought of one more….not using the room once it’s decorated! I’m embarrassed to say I have a room like this in my home. We spent plenty of dollars filling it up with an entertainment cabinet, sectional, two chairs, an area rug, draperies and lovely accessories. It’s seen when anyone walks in our home. But it stops there. We all go crash on the family room sectional where the cats are allowed, the TV is always going, and the kitchen is just steps away.

What am I to do? Old habits die hard. Well, as I look back through the disasters I’ve mentioned, I can honestly say I’m guilty of only one….not using that darn living room! One solution could be that it’s time to start entertaining. Unfortunately for me, that means a whole new world of “disasters”……the kind that happen in the kitchen!


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