Wednesday, March 27, 2013

10 Home Decorating Mistakes to Avoid

Written by Meaghan Maess, Buffalo State College student and communications intern at Catholic Health

Choosing home decor for your living space can be an intimidating task. You want a space that reflects your personality while still serving a functional purpose. With so many options to choose from, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

Avoid these 10 common mistakes and you can have a space that’s both attractive and useable.

1. Working Without A Plan

Reading nook, Source: Apartment Therapy

Before you embark on any design project, consider how you want to live in your home. Do you want a quiet reading nook where you can wrap up in a blanket and spend hours reading uninterrupted? Do you want to host friends and family for game nights? What about an office where you can fire up your laptop without the distractions of TV?

Let yourself daydream about your ideal space without letting space or budget issues constrain you.
Once you've defined the priorities for your home, brainstorm how you can realistically achieve your goals. If you don't have the square footage for the art studio you've always wanted, consider setting up shop on a smaller scale. Can you create a mini-studio in the office or living room?

Take measurements of your space, then put pen to paper and create a floor plan. Plan ahead where you want to place furniture and other items. You might want to include doorways, windows and electrical outlets in your plan.

2. Shopping Without a Budget

Set a budget before you begin and prioritize what you want or need the most.

"I try to purchase from locally-owned shops and artisans that have a reputation for value-based products and great customer service," says Nicole Milley, interior designer and owner of Nikki M Design. "Items can be purchased at a lower cost without compromising the integrity of the design."
Nicole's favorite shops are White Orchard Home Furnishings, Room, TJ Maxx and Pier One.

It may take a little searching, but you can also find great pieces at second-hand stores such as Amvets or the Salvation Army. The money saved can be spent on paint or upholstery to customize your furniture and make it truly unique to your style.

3. Fearing Color

Simple ways to add color to your room, Source: Houzz, Home Decor Adventures

"People tend to fear color and because of that, they tend to choose white or beige colors," says Nicole.

"If color scares you, then start smaller. An easy, cost effective way to add color to a room is with toss pillows, throws, lamps, lampshades, and artwork."

Choose colors that you like or feel comfortable with. Focus on three different colors: a dominant color, a secondary color and an accent color. If you have an item you really love, use it for inspiration and apply the colors from that item throughout the whole space.

4. Lacking Personality

Small groupings of items, Source: Nikki M Design

Your home should be a reflection of you and your personal style.

"Bring your personality into the space by arranging a couple of family photos or keepsakes in a grouping," Nicole says. "Keep the groupings minimal and vary the sizes of the objects to create visual interest."

5. Preventing Conversation

Your main living area should enable your family and guests to sit face-to-face and talk – not shout from across the room. Don’t push your seating against the walls but arrange it in a grouping that makes intimate conversation possible.

Consider traffic patterns, and arrange your furniture so that you can walk around the conversation area, not through it.

6. Crowding a Space with Oversized Furniture

Don't try to crowd several pieces of large furniture into a small space. You want to be able to move easily throughout the room. For example, in a dining room, chairs should be placed far enough away from the wall so that you don't have to squeeze in to sit down.

Measure your floor space before you shop and carry measuring tape in your purse so that you can measure furniture before you buy.

7. Having Too Much Clutter

Avoid the tendency to fill a space to capacity. Empty space gives the eye a chance to rest and allows other objects to shine. In a home with too much clutter, each object competes with the other for attention.

Keep flat surfaces clear for a clean, uncluttered look.

8. Separating Pairs

Keeping things balanced and symmetrical can give your home a more pulled together look and make things feel less chaotic and more peaceful.

Follow the "rule of pairs." Keep couples together instead of separating identical items in different rooms. Balance them by keeping them at opposite ends of the same space.

9. Hanging Decorations at the Wrong Height

Curtains and wall decorations hung at the same level, Source: Home Decor Adventures 

When hanging your artwork, take into consideration the height of other objects in the room. You want to avoid what Lauri Ward, author of Use What You Have Decorating, calls the “roller coaster effect.” Stand in the center of your room and look at each of the items against your walls, one by one. Ask yourself if your eye is being drawn up or down by the differing heights of furniture, artwork, doors and windows. If this visual line resembles a roller coaster, rearrange your d├ęcor to minimize the highs and lows.

The general rule is that eye level is best when hanging artwork. Artwork should not be higher than the door frame, and the bottom edge should be six inches from the top of any furniture.

10. Not Making the Most of Your Space

Mood lighting creates the right atmosphere

For small spaces, practical, multi-functional pieces work best.

"If you have a room that needs to function as an office and a dining room, the best pieces to have in that room might be a larger armoire or buffet that can hold both business needs and dining needs," Nicole says. "The right table can function as a dining table and a desk."

If you are using a space for multiple functions, consider mixing different types of lighting.

"Task lighting mixed with mood lighting will be important to create the appropriate atmosphere for different activities," Nicole says.

For more design tips and inspiration, check out Nicole's blogs Nikki M Design and Under the Spaghetti Tree.

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