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Mistake #4: Focusing Most of Your Time and Money on the Living Room

Reason why people do it: The living room is where all the important things happen, where guests are entertained and relatives cram in for the holidays.

Reason why it's a mistake: It's empty about 90 percent of the time, if you also have a family room, which means a large chunk of a decorating budget is in the room that's used the least.

What to do instead: Shift some of your dollars into the foyer. It's often an afterthought, but it provides a nice welcome home for you (as well as holiday guests).

One extra tip to keep in mind: A demilune or half-round table—ideal to navigate around—is a go-to piece in a high-traffic area like this. Choose one with a drawer to hide mail and keys, add a pretty lamp, votive candles and a vase with cut flowers.