6 Decorating Mistakes—and How to Avoid Them
Interior designers reveal the most frequent slipups they see and the easy ways to fix them.
Photo: Jean-Christophe Aumas
Mistake #1: Putting Everything You Love in the Living Room
"Edit, edit, edit! Look at those rooms you love in your favorite magazines; I'm willing to bet editing is one magic trick that made them look so good! Count the number of objects on the coffee table, how many throw rugs are on the floor, the number of framed photos and knickknacks on mantels, tabletops and shelving. Experiment with your own space by taking a few things away. Try to group similar collections in a single spot. I'm no minimalist ... but I see editing as a way to make your favorite pieces stand out and to create a space that feels supportive, not overwhelming." — Holly Becker, author of Decorate Workshop: Design and Style Your Space in 8 Creative Steps
Mistake #2: Choosing Furniture That Doesn't Play Well with Others
"One of the biggest mistakes people make in decorating is not understanding the importance of scale and proportion. That's what really makes a room. The furniture, like the sofas and chairs, should have similar proportions. That's not to say there shouldn't be taller and shorter pieces in the same room—height is very important—but things should not be too big for the room. Don't pair a small, delicate antique love seat with a huge overstuffed chair—the love seat will feel overshadowed. I never use a sofa that's longer than 7 feet; that's a large enough sofa, no matter what the room size is. I always like to have multiple seating areas rather than just one." — Alex Papachristidis, author of The Age of Elegance: Interiors by Alex Papachristidis
Mistake #3: Bankrupting Yourself for the Perfect Wallpaper
"People often think they need to wallpaper an entire room, which can be expensive and make a space feel crowded and busy. Choose to cover a focal surface (like the area behind this bed) so the print stands out, and the room still feels open and airy." — Cortney and Robert Novogratz, authors of Home by Novogratz
Excerpted from Home by Novogratz by Robert and Cortney Novogratz (Artisan Books). Copyright 2012.
Mistake #4: Remembering What's Inside (but Forgetting What's Outside)
"It is important that rooms feel right for the environments they are in. For instance, in a hot climate, you should not be afraid of letting rooms feel slightly empty. In this living room, the sense of space and plain floors is very cooling. I find that different climates dictate how a place should feel, so therefore, look to local architectural styles to give you the clues you're looking for when trying to decide what to do."
— Tino Zervudachi, author of Tino Zervudachi: A Portfolio
(Pointed Leaf Press)
Mistake #5: Getting Everything to Go Together
"A typical mistake that people make is relying too heavily on the idea of matching. Think of decorating your home the same way you put together a fabulous outfit: Select textiles, finishes and furnishings that work together to create an interesting yet unified collection that is an honest reflection of your personal style."
— Thom Filicia, author of American Beauty: Renovating and Decorating a Beloved Retreat
Mistake #6: Succumbing to One-Stop Shopping
"One mistake a lot of people make (partially because it makes things easier) is purchasing all their furniture for one room from the same store or the same time period. This makes the room feel impersonal. The best rooms will mix old and new with pieces from different stores, different craftsmen and possibly even different regions. That way, the room has a soulful and spirited vibe that looks like the room has evolved over time." — Kelly Wearstler, author of Rhapsody: Kelly Wearstler
Next: Oprah on her home makeover and finding her style