10 Common Mistakes in Interior Design

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Mistakes in interior design most often come from a fear of making them. Designers see many of the same decorating don’ts in homes, and several were consulted to find out how to prevent decorating mistakes that can be costly and unsightly. Here are their insights.

1. PAINTING THE WALLS BEFORE CHOOSING FURNISHINGS
People tend to fall in love with a paint color they want to design a room around. But, you can mix infinite paint colors and you can’t mix a fabric color. It can be more difficult to find upholstery, fabrics and accessories to a very specific shade than to have a paint color customized to furnishings you have purchased.

2. BUYING PIECES OUT OF PROPORTION
The size of furniture should be in scale to the rest of the room. Furniture in stores are shown in spaces with very high ceilings and wide open space which is different than in a home. Buyers can end up with an oversize or overstuffed sofa that looked great in the showroom. It requires a bit of planning but map out the size of the room and existing furniture. Write down the height, width and depth, along with the room dimensions before you shop for new furniture. It can prevent a costly mistake.

3. CHOOSING A RUG THAT IS TOO SMALL FOR A ROOM
A common error in scale and proportion can be avoided by taking room measurements into a store with you. You need to know the room dimensions and size of the largest pieces in it that the rug will sit on.

4. INADEQUATE LIGHTING IN A ROOM
Many rooms and entire homes are poorly lit. Most people find it hard to know where to put lighting. There is a difference between overhead lighting and accent lighting. The light in a room should be layered and from different sources.

5. HANGING WINDOW TREATMENTS TOO LOW
This makes the room look short and stubby. Brackets look better hung up to a foot above the window trim. It makes the window look taller and gives the illusion of height to a room. A valance above the window exposes more of the glass to allow more light.

6. DECORATING EACH ROOM IN A BUBBLE
A home that feels comfortable flows from room to room with continuity. This is especially important for rooms that are open to each other such as the entertaining areas of living, dining and kitchen.

7. HANGING ART TOO HIGH
An average eye level is 5’6″. the eye should rest in the center of the piece of art. If it is hung over a piece of furniture, it is best hung closer to the piece of furniture so it reads as a cohesive vignette.

8. USING ALL MATCHING FURNITURE
People play it safe if they cannot visualize what a room might look like so they purchase a sofa, love seat and club chair to be identical, using a second fabric for throw pillows. It is more interesting in a room to mix styles and fabrics. All the furniture in the room should coordinate but not match exactly.

9. PUSHING THE FURNITURE AGAINST THE WALL
People do this because they don’t know a different option. This makes a room look like a hallway instead of a congenial conversation area. It’s better to float furniture in the space.

10. DISCARDING EXISTING PIECES TOO QUICKLY
Some people have trouble imagining the ways in which a piece they’ve owned for a long while can be reused. Not appreciating some of your treasures is a mistake. An older piece can be turned into something fresh.

Karen_Carpino

About Karen Carpino

Karen Carpino is an interior designer and founder of Chicago-based Karen Carpino Design. A professionally registered interior designer with over 25 years of experience, Ms. Carpino's clientele includes both residential and commercial projects. She brings you techniques, trends and tips in “Style At Home.”