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Designers Call Out 5 Telltale Signs You've Overdecorated (and How to Fix Them)

An orange sectional sofa in a colorful living room

KatarzynaBialasiewicz / Getty Images

We all know the look of a flawlessly curated living space—or if you can’t conjure one to mind, here’s a pretty good example. You can feel the minute you step inside that everything in your vicinity has a home, and every element has been carefully considered. Whether you’re a minimalist or lean towards the eccentric, finding your happy medium is necessary for not only creating a visually stimulating room but to ensure your home is utilitarian in your everyday life.

You too can be the owner of such an impact-inducing abode in just a few easy steps. But first, let’s get familiar with the pitfalls of over-decorating from some of our go-to interior designers, and how they themselves would fix such hefty décor mishaps. Read on to find out the signs of over-decorating and how to fix them.

Over decorating—MA Allen
courtesy of A+B Kasha

The Mishap: You’re bookshelf happy.

MA Allen says she often goes into a project to find that the bookcases are over-decorated. This can leave the room looking inundated and heavy.

The Fix: Curate.

Sometimes, the best way to get a fresh perspective is to take absolutely everything off, do a little dusting, and then begin to place the pieces back one-by-one until it feels like there is a clean balance. “What goes back up looks fresh and authentic, not overly stylized,” notes Allen.

Over-decorating—Maureen Stevens
Lauren Logan ; DESIGN: Maureen Stevens

The Mishap: Too much clutter.

Many times, the telltale sign of an over-decorated room lies within the owner's inability to part with pieces that soon become clutter. It’s time to get out that proverbial red pen and get to work!

The Fix: “Edit, edit, edit.”

Maureen Stevens suggests we look to what’s attractive but also has functionality when making judgments on furniture. For example, “A stool is amazingly functional when getting dressed,” she advises. Yet, it can also display aesthetic value to the overall room. Further, Stevens wants you to be cutthroat when you’re deciding what will go on the walls. This is a "less is more" situation. That one art piece that does make the cut is all the more poignant. Elite Designer at Decorist, Briana Nix, seconds this; “Jump on the Marie Kondo bandwagon and keep only what brings you joy.”

over-decorating—Atelier K
Amy Benton ; DESIGN: Atelier K

The Mishap: There’s no clear direction.
According to Kenneth Boyer of Atelier k, an over-decorated space could be compared to one that has so many layers, it becomes distracting to the eye.

Fix: Take inventory.
Look more closely at your negative space, and don’t be afraid to leave some walls and floor space bare. “Leaving some walls void of artwork also allows the architecture and focus points in your interior to be appreciated,” Boyer says. When you step back to admire, make sure it’s clear what your stylistic direction is.

Over-decorating—Jess Cooney, Briana Nix
Courtesy of Annaleena

The Mishap: It’s too literal.

Designer Jess Cooney feels a room appears over-decorated when you source everything from the same style or era.

Fix: Think outside the trend.

Instead of over-accessorizing a small space with too many items, Cooney advises you to consider a colorful statement piece. “Adding in a bright vintage rug or runner into any small space, such as a pantry or walk-in closet, gives it an immediate pop of color,” she says. 

Courtesy of Annaleena

Mishap: You’ve over-thought it. 

Décor trends have gotten to the best of us—it’s easy to fall prey to what’s current and end up splicing in too many styles. The best way to address this is to get back to the basics.

Fix: Opt for paint. 

“Rooms can still feel finished with a good coat of paint and don’t need to be over-done with something hanging everywhere you look,” says Briana Nix. Instead of investing in artwork or getting those photos framed, head to the paint store and settle on a signature color.