6 Design Mistakes You're Probably Making (and How To Fix Them)

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  • You might love all the individual elements in a room, like a vintage armchair or a beautiful framed print, but together...they don't look quite right. If you're having trouble making it work, you're not alone. Our designers identified six common design blunders and came up with solutions that will take your room from "eh" to amazing.

  • Problem #1: The room is poorly lit

  • The mistake: You're only using one source of light, which is making the space feel cold and unfinished.

  • The solution: Lighting is an easy upgrade that has a profound effect on the overall space. Layering light sources allows you to create different atmospheres throughout the day and evening, and varying the lighting keeps the eye moving around the room at different levels. A vintage-inspired or reproduction pendant light is a great way to add personality and ambiance, while task lighting, such as a reading lamp by an armchair, is ideal for evening. Wall sconces are often overlooked, but their soft light adds an elegant finishing touch.

  • Problem #2: The paint color doesn't go with the rest of the room

  • The mistake: You chose the paint color before deciding on a color palette and buying furniture.

  • The solution: Use inspiration images to discover your ideal color combinations. Once you have refined your color palette, choose upholstery and fabric. Select an area rug that complements your upholstery and helps ground the space. Next, choose window treatments to tie together the furniture and area rug. Then, find furniture like coffee tables and bookshelves and decide on finishes; wood and brass work well with a warm palette, whereas nickel and stainless steel are perfect for cool palettes. Finally, choose a paint color that will bring all the elements together and harmonize the space.

  • Problem #3: The artwork is hung incorrectly

  • The mistake: You hung art either too high or too low, and not according to scale.

  • The solution: Hang the center of the artwork at eye level, approximately 65 to 70 inches off the floor, depending on your height. If you're hanging something over furniture, such as a console, credenza, or sofa, the bottom of the artwork should be six to eight inches above the edge of the piece.

  • A gallery wall can make a small space feel larger. Build a template by cutting butcher paper into the size of each frame and taping it to the wall. To maintain the overall composition, make sure that the space between frames doesn't exceed two inches. That way, you can decide on a layout you like before you break out the hammer and nails.

  • Problem #4: The rug is the wrong size

  • The mistake: You bought the rug before the furniture, or before measuring the layout of your space.

  • The solution: Before purchasing an area rug, know the dimensions of your furniture as well as the layout and size of your seating area. Ideally, a rug should fit all your furniture. However, if a rug that size is too expensive, furniture legs can sit half on and half off (but be consistent). For a smaller room, float the rug in front of all the furniture. In a big room, there should be six to nine inches between the edge of the rug and the edge of the room. Whatever size you choose, place a thick rug pad underneath to keep the edges from curling up.

  • Problem #5: The scale and proportion of the furniture is off

  • The mistake: You bought furniture that is too large or too small for the space, or you didn't vary the sizes and shapes of pieces.

  • The solution: Keep in mind the size of the room when selecting furniture. Create an outline of the pieces on the floor using tape to determine the amount of space each item occupies. If you already own a large piece of furniture, make that your focal point and build the rest of the room around it. Too many small things in a room make it feel cluttered, while too many large items make a room look stuffed and small. The perfect space has a combination of different heights, sizes and shapes.

  • Problem #6: Your space is cluttered and disorganized

  • The mistake: You didn't invest in items for storing the stuff you want to hide and displaying the items you want to show off.

  • The solution: Less is more when it comes to organizing and displaying your stuff. Place heirlooms, mementos and your most valued pieces on bookshelves and étagères, or style them on your coffee table. For everything else, try installing inexpensive wardrobes as an affordable storage solution. Customize with paint, wallpaper, and hardware to integrate them into your design.
  • Check out Decor Aid's Journal for more design ideas.

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