Home Decorating Tips: Avoid the Top Mistakes
Photo: © Breadmaker - Shutterstock
Home decorating is full of traps for the unwary. Sometimes rules are made to be broken, and skillful decorators can often ignore the guidelines. They may even create striking effects by breaking convention, but it takes a trained eye to do so. For the less experienced, there are small and easy tips to follow to achieve a more professional look.
Paint: A color that looks just right as a small sample may appear either far brighter or much darker when applied to a large wall. To be safe, choose a color slightly lighter than the effect you wish to achieve. Consider also the amount of natural light the wall or room receives, as this will influence the final effect.
Pictures: A surprisingly common error is hanging paintings or pictures too high. Enlist someone's help to hold the pictures in place while you "eyeball" them to see where they look best.
When hanging pictures, think of the wall (or other space) where it will hang like a frame. Would you put a 4-inch thick frame around a postcard? You may be able to get away with large pictures in a small space, but small pictures in a large space are seldom effective.
Rugs: To be effective, a rug or mat should define an area, not just cover bare floor. Use rugs to unify arrangements of furniture, such as two easy chairs and a coffee table.
Furniture arrangement: It's often tempting to push sofas and chairs right against the wall, especially in a smaller room. Ideally, leave a gap of at least 4 inches or more if space permits.
Scale: Matching an item of décor to the space it will occupy is key. Most of us know intuitively that large, heavy furniture may look incongruous in a small room; equally, spindly furniture may be too delicate in a larger space.
The same principles apply to patterns, whether it's on wallpaper or curtains. A big and bold pattern may overwhelm a small space, whereas a small print may seem to disappear in a large area.
Eclectic styles: It's possible to mix styles from different periods; for example, juxtapose and contrast old cottage furniture with bright modern prints. However, unless done carefully, it can appear a bit mishmash. When combining different styles, try to find something that brings them together. If your furniture is a mix of styles and ages, then look for coordinating pieces of similar type and color. A mix of woods and styles tends to look untidy and uncoordinated. Similarly, you can bring together a display of diverse pictures or family photos with frames that are the same style and color.
When planning a home makeover, give yourself space for experimentation and error. Never leap into irreversible decisions that could be expensive to remedy—or that you might have to live with for a long time.