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Mistake #2: Starting with a "Suite" of Furniture

Reason why people do it: Many companies produce a large portion of their collections in darker wood tones, plus hand-me-down chests, tables and dressers can add to the brown palette.

Reason why it's a mistake: A room filled with brown furniture, dark leather or fabrics, stained hardwood floors, doors and/or moldings will make the space feel smaller and weigh a room down.

What to do instead: These days, the trend is toward mix of wood pieces and different finishes that add depth and texture, like mirrored, stone, even raffia. Check Priley Lane for a selection of linen or grasscloth-painted furniture and Somerset Bay Home for fresh and colorful interpretations of classic styles.

One extra tip to keep in mind: If you happen to own a mahogany or walnut bedroom or dining set (thanks, Nana), you'll want to paint one or two pieces with an oil-based color (it'll minimize brush marks better than acrylic) or move a couple of items elsewhere in the house.