Interior Decorating Mistakes to Avoid

Successful interior design comes down to knowing one thing: Which rules to follow and which to throw out the window.

The rules to follow include basic principles of good design, including things like scale, proportion, and lighting. Just like you would for your clothing, you want to make sure you have a little texture. You also want to avoid things that look cheap or poorly made.

But beyond those rules, the best looks happen when you forget about how you should be decorating or what’s trendy. Instead, choose things that you love.

Need a little more guidance? Here are six common pitfalls to avoid.

6 Interior Design Mistakes

Decorating a home is not like choosing a new outfit. Whether you like the results or not, you’re likely stuck with what you’ve got for a while. With that in mind, here are a half dozen common mistakes you’ll want to avoid.

Overdone Decorating Trends

What’s the fastest way to make your home look generic? Chase down every home décor trend you see on HGTV or in a magazine. The results may—or may not—look elegant and stylish, but they certainly won’t look like you.

Instead, incorporate trends (at least the ones you genuinely like) into a look that also includes things you love—and will continue to love five or 10 years down the road. So, if canary yellow is the hot color, consider it for throw pillows rather than for an entire couch.

Not Paying Attention to Scale

Try to think of your room like a city. It would look rather blah if every building was the same size, right? So mix up your room with pieces of different heights and widths, while still keeping an eye on overall proportions. If your room is very large, it can support bigger pieces of furniture—and vice versa.

Also, keep in mind that every room should have a focal point to which the eye is drawn. Once you establish that, it’s easier to design the rest of your room around that focal point.

Only Having One Lighting Source

Good design creates a little intrigue. If your room is illuminated by a single source, the result is one dimensional and boring, even if the room is sufficiently illuminated.

Add floor and table lamps to a living room. Consider under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen, along with pendant lights. Think about adding sconces where appropriate. Good lighting can change the entire feel of a house.

Rugs that Float and Furniture that Doesn’t

A floor rug can really finish a room, adding polish and style. But if the rug floats in the middle of a room, not touching any furniture, it will just look awkward. As a simple rule of thumb, at least the front two legs of a sofa or chair should be able to rest on the rug.

The opposite is usually true for your furniture. While some small spaces do necessitate furniture being pushed against the walls, it usually looks far better if your sofas and chairs float in the room to form an intimate conversation area.

Buying Everything All at Once

Do you want your space to look like a model home—or do you want it to tell your own story? While model homes may look good, they’re seldom all that interesting.

To create a home that looks like you, you’ll want to allow your home to evolve organically over time. Your bookcase may contain a large seashell you found on your recent vacation—or you may add a new framed photograph after your daughter got married.

The best homes are the ones that follow basic design rules, but after that take a direction all their own.


You can spend thousands of dollars and enlist the help of a professional decorator, but if your home is filled with clutter, it will never be the stylish oasis you want it to be. Get rid of things you don’t need, choose furniture that doubles as storage space, and—if still necessary—find more storage space.

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