Top Five Biggest Design Mistakes… And How To Avoid Them!

by Katie on April 7, 2011

Last week I read an interesting blog from one of the most admired and respected designers in Dallas discussing the top design mistakes she sees people make. I found this post extremely interesting and I started thinking about the most frequent design goofs I see people make and simple tips on how you can avoid and fix them. I have outlined a few of the basic ones below!

I want to preference that I understand that everyone’s personal design style is different. However, in my design opinion these are the top five design blunders I see people make all the time.

#1 Furnishing an entire space from big box stores like Rooms To Go, Room Store or IKEA. Resist purchasing the entire “room set”. I understand people are out to save money and get a good bargain, but purchasing an entire “room in a box” will likely lack character, seem boring and among other things  appear too matchy. Try and mix it up! Most of the time it’s best to borrow some ideas from the showroom and leave the rest at the store.

Oh yikes! An unsightly display of a whole living room "suite" from Rooms Store!

Fix it: Try and make your space eclectic and interesting by avoiding cheap knick knacks and art. I’m not saying you can’t get a great deal or break the bank by purchasing high-end items. Try and buy staple items you will love for years to come (i.e. Sofa, Coffee table, Dining table). Most of the time, cheap furniture will always be cheap and become throw away items later.  You can always change out accessories over the years as needed, but key pieces will be with you for a very long time.

Design Tip: Understandably, “La-Z-Boy’s” are very comfy…But if you have any interest in interior design, you may want to avoid recliners and reclining sofas at all cost! Also just say no to any interior chair that has a built in drink holder!

#2 Clutter Clutter Everywhere. You may love knick knacks and antiques… But unfortunately, most people will not view your grandpa’s collection of commemorative plaques with the same bemusement as you! Clutter and disorganization can be overwhelming and also ruin the entire look of a space. If you can’t sit comfortably on the couch or lay on the bed without 50 pillows, you may want to try using less throw pillows. For most, home is a place to unwind and enjoy. Too much clutter can mean you have a hard time relaxing and can lead to stress!

Way too much clutter

Fix it:  If you feel your space has too much clutter, try investing in stylish storage items such as baskets, bins and book cases to keep items in their place. Simplify your space and your life by scaling back on knick knacks. Store or donate any toys your children no longer play with and display your collectibles in moderation.

#3 Incorrect scale of furniture. This is a very common mistake and an easy one to make. I have been guilty of it more than once. Typically, everything that looks small in an enormous warehouse or showroom…Then you get it home!  That 65″ LCD TV may seem like a reasonable size until you bring it home and it takes up the entire wall!  Waaay too big! On the flip side, another common mistake is to purchase items that are too small for a large room. The sizing of furniture is very important.

giant furniture Oversized Furniture
Giant furniture

Fix it: Don’t forget to take note of the room dimensions when purchasing furniture and remember to bring a tape measure with you when shopping. Because I have made this mistake a few times, using masking tape on the floor and outlining the dimensions of the item you are thinking of purchasing is a very helpful measure. Trust me, it really helps to visualize before you get furniture all the way home and it doesn’t work out!

#4  Hanging pictures and artwork too high. This is a very common mistake and an easy fix. If you’re like me, you end up nailing 10 holes and destroying the walls before finding the right place! I’m only happy the picture I am hanging is covers the unsightly nail holes I just put in the wall!

Art hung way to high!

Fix It: Rule of thumb is if you have to bend your neck to see wall hangings, then it’s probably hung too high. Eye level as usually is typically a good height.  Hang art low enough that when placing it over a piece of furniture such as a sofa or a table that it hangs no higher than 6 – 9 inches over the furniture. However, in my experience 3-5 inches may work better if the picture is smaller.

# 5 Fake Flowers. This is a bit of a controversial subject to some… But fake flowers and greenery are most likely a bad decision. Most of the time they are not fooling anyone into believing you have a green thumb! They gather dust and just look fake.

Greenery above the kitchen cabinets... A "design don't".

Fix it: Just like cutter try and scale back. You may be pleasantly surprised how open the space looks without the excess filler of fake greenery. I have NO green thumb but I attempt to keep one or two real pants in the room.

Don’t feel bad, we all make design mistakes! It’s always a learning experience! Do confess, what are some design mishaps you have seen? I can share with you that during the course of my eight year career, I have had a couple “learning experiences”!

Have a design dilemma or a question about interior design? Contact me! I am always happy to help out!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jared Fleischer April 7, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Blue furniture = winning!


Tessa April 8, 2011 at 9:48 am

I couldn’t agree more with this list!


Katie April 8, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Yes, I have so many more to list too!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: