4 common interior design mistakes: How many do you make?


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Everyone has a unique sense of style, so there can really be no “mistakes” when it comes to your home’s interior design, right? Wrong.

Whether it’s ignoring classic proportions or failing to select cohesive colors, design blunders are a common occurrence.

“So many of my clients watch the design shows, which make it all look so easy,” says Candace Hillier, owner of highly rated Urban Interiors in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “I’ve received many design rescue calls.”

So before you send out an S.O.S., review our list of gaffes and see how many you can remedy before company arrives.


1. Size matters

When it comes to furniture, artwork and tchotchkes, it’s important to determine the correct size and proportion in relation to the surroundings. “It’s quite common that sizing isn’t accurate,” says Tracy Lynn, owner of highly rated Style on a Shoestring in San Diego. “For example, pictures on the walls are too small for the wall space or even hung too high. Too many small accessories that clutter a space rather than a few, larger pieces that can make an impact.”

What’s the fix? For furniture, make sure you measure the room before you buy anything. Take into consideration the room’s overall size, as well as the distance between windows and doors so you don’t buy anything undersized or too large.

When hanging pictures, measure 60 to 65 inches from the floor to the center of the art. Perhaps slightly higher if it’s in a “standing” room (hallway or entryway), and a bit lower if it’s in a “sitting room” (dining room). Group small pieces together, and if you’re hanging something above a sofa, make sure the bottom of the frame is 6 to 12 inches from the top of the couch.


2. Poor paint selection

Picking paint colors that flow well together helps a house feel like a home. “Too often the paint colors are a kaleidoscopic and don’t complement the fabrics and finishes of a home,” says Christine Barringer, owner of highly rated Home at Last Décor in Broad Run, Virginia. “Homeowners tackle one room at a time, with no overview or long-term plan of how all the rooms will tie together.”

What’s the fix? Consult with a pro! “In two hours or less, the design plan we create allows the homeowner to avoid wasting money and provides a written guide that will show what they can do, how to tie everything together and achieve their design goals,” Barringer says. Costs for a professional design consultation ranges from $50 to $150+ per hour.


3. Keep it real

“One mistake I see people make that really saddens me is the use of unnatural materials,” says Diane Kintrea, owner of highly rated Eye Candy Interiors in Portland, Oregon. “I realize that we’re all on a budget, but wait and save your money for the real thing.” Kintrea says homeowners often don’t consider the cost — both to their wallet and the environment — when selecting materials. “It costs so much to purchase, install and then eventually tear out laminate flooring for something real. So many loads of that stuff go to the landfill every day.”

What’s the fix? Research types of toxic materials you should avoid bringing into your home, so you can make an educated decision. “Scrimp and save to buy the real thing,” Kintrea says. “Your home is both an investment and a place you want to be able to breathe deeply without some man-made, off-gassing materials constantly reminding you that you took a shortcut.”


4. Don’t follow a fad

Unless you have the budget to swap out furnishings every other year, you might want to delay purchasing the latest and greatest trends. “Fads lead to a shortened life span, in which a home can look dated quickly,” says Laurie Zucker Lindbloom, owner of highly rated LZL Interiors in Cleveland, Ohio. “Also, I’ve encountered clients that were ‘talked into’ a decision that didn’t reflect their own style preferences, and therefore are redecorating sooner than would have been necessary.”

What’s the fix? To thy own self be true. Yes, designers know a lot about making a room look good, but only you know if you like it or not. You have to live with it, after all. Invest in classic pieces that will stand the test of time, and don’t be afraid to speak up if he or she is steering you in a design direction that doesn’t suit your taste.

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This article was written by Staci Giordullo of Angie’s List. Click here for more consumer home advice from Staci.

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