Designer Solutions for the Biggest Decorating Faux Pas
The best-laid plans sometimes go awry, which is often the case when it comes to decorating. Purchasing rugs without properly measuring a room, using too much of your favorite color in a single space, or buying a lot of furniture from the same shop may not seem like a big deal, but the resulting space will probably not end up being exactly as you had imagined.
We recently polled eight top design talents to share what decorating faux pas they often see, and asked how the good-intentioned home decorator can avoid these pitfalls. Keep reading to see what they had to say.
“In my opinion, home decorators tend to take color too literally. By that, I mean that if they love the color green, they make too big a statement with it—like painting their walls green (or even worse, an accent wall). It’s much more sophisticated to do something more subtle and less expected with color: have a green linen lampshade made or drop a green painted coffee table into an otherwise-neutral room.” — Betsy Burnham, Burnham Design
“My biggest pet peeve is seeing a design with an area rug the size of a postage stamp. So many people underscale a rug, which makes a room feel smaller and unbalanced. Dining chairs should never fall off a rug when pulled out. If we're scaling a rug for a room, typically we measure anywhere from six to twelve feet off the walls or baseboard.” — Anne Hepfer, Anne Hepfer
"One of the most common design mistakes that I see is designing around massive televisions; not just in media rooms but oftentimes in formal living rooms! In order to work around such a potential eyesore, I use mirrors or decorative art and accessories to hang over and around the television, so that your eyes are drawn to the the beauty of the room we've created!” — David Brian Sanders, David Brian Sanders Interior Architecture + Design
"I often see items being too ‘matchy-matchy’ in a space. I feel the days of matching sofas and chairs and occasional table collections are long gone! The fun part of design is mixing different styles and disparate objects. Blend different fabric patterns of varying scales and textures; mix wood finishes with a lacquered painted finish and contrasting metals. Try to think outside the box—the unexpected is what makes a room interesting! Also, don't be afraid of color and scale. Both are key to making a true impact in a room." — Julia Buckingham, Buckingham Interiors + Design
“I’m obsessed with light, so it kills me when decorators do anything to compromise it. Rather than creating rooms that eat natural light with overstuffed furnishings, thick drapes with deep folds and pleating, and using too many heavy fabrics like mohair and wool, I always like to give space for a room to breathe, and use fabrics and accessories that allow the light to play off them in a variety of ways. Using reflective surfaces like brass, bronze, ceramic, or mirror, and fabrics with texture and varied weights add dimension to a room. Try not to let your draperies hang within a window frame, and when it comes to evening time, create pools of light from different sources—ceiling, wall, or floor—all on dimmers!” — Vanessa Alexander, Alexander Design
"I really dislike rooms with matching furniture sets, especially in a bedroom or dining room (i.e. a dresser should never match bedside tables in a bedroom). A room should be eclectic, a beautiful mix of old and new, traditional and modern, hard and soft, light and dark—matching furniture is never a good idea." — Mark D. Sikes, Mark D. Sikes Inc.
“I never understand when people trim out an off-white room in a true white. It’s better to just paint the trims and door casings the same color as the walls. Otherwise, your room always looks like a paint chip, with white lines surrounding the color and making it look less true than it really is.” — Michelle Smith, Studio MRS
“It makes me crazy when people place pots or planters on either side of a door and fill them with small shrubs. When deciding what to use in a planter, think about what you want it to look like at the end of the season; don't worry too much about things filling in or growing. Most seasons come and go in a blink, and instant gratification is much more satisfying. Fill the pot with robust foliage first rather than slowly watching the plant mature.” — Sam Allen, Sam Allen Interiors