5 Common Mistakes When Do-It-Yourself Decorating

You don’t have to hire a professional decorator, but learning just a few simple tweaks like these will give your home that professionally-designed appearance.

By Thomas Wolosik
Staff Writer


We’ve all been there: A few rounds of Pinterest and Googling, and a problem area that you’ve never been able to tackle suddenly looks ripe with potential. While it’s true that do-it-yourself decorating can be a great way to save money and improve your home, there are unfortunately many common mistakes that can be made when we try to do things without doing the proper research first. Here are some of the most common decorating mistakes made by homeowners, and how to fix them.


1. Cluttered Surfaces

If you have side tables that are covered in picture frames, knick-knacks, and candles, you’re probably overwhelming your guests without realizing it. Over time, our eyes become adjusted to the cramped display, and it begins to look normal. But the point of displaying decorative items is so they can be seen, and bunching them all on a table together makes it hard for anyone to pick out detail in the cacophony. 


Modern cosy living room interior in grey toned decor


A better way is to create minimalist displays that take advantage of wall space. Put your photos in matching frames on the walls, in a simple rectangular grid. Limit your surface displays to a small number of important items. Here’s a tip: Use groupings of odd numbers to create a visually appealing tabletop without overwhelming.


Modern living room


2. Monochrome Designs

While there’s been a recent resurgence in the love of all-white or all-grey rooms, when you take that concept into the world of color, you may end up with a room that looks like it came straight out of Barbie’s Dream House. If the paint color, linens, lampshades, accessories, and carpet all match, you’re probably going to end up dating your room because color trends come and go. Additionally, it gives the room a feeling of being from a catalogue or a wax museum, because to most eyes, it feels unnatural to see so much of the same color.

Instead, go for a complementary color scheme that places your favorite color front and center. Cover the walls in a color that makes you happy, and then use neutral furnishings so as not to overwhelm. Alternatively, use neutral backdrops to highlight accessories in your favorite color.


Nice Living room with vintage furniture and red rug


3. Spread Out Furniture

If there’s one thing that designers stress over and over to DIY decorators, it’s that your furniture does not have to be pushed against the walls. In fact, it probably shouldn’t be. If you line the walls with furniture, you usually end up with an awkwardly boxed-in space that forces guests to speak up in order to be heard across the room. It also makes it difficult for everyone to see the television.

Instead, place your furniture in conversational groups that make it easy to interact. This will give your space a cozier feeling, and make your guests feel welcome.


Beautiful Living Room


4. Area Rugs

If your area rug looks like it belongs in an entry way, it’s probably too small for your living room or dining room. A small rug makes your room look small, and creates an odd breakup in the flow.

Instead, choose a rug that meets or touches every piece of furniture to create a grand space that feels completely connected. 


Spacious living room with fireplace, carpet floor and rug. There are two green sofas and leather brown armchair


5. Ignoring Lighting

Having a single overhead light that acts like a spotlight isn’t comfortable for anyone, and it doesn’t take advantage of your room’s layout or design. Cold lighting from LED or fluorescent bulbs can make a room feel clinical. Instead, try to space lighting evenly throughout a room, and rely on warmer light to give your guests a cozier feeling. 


Cozy living room with fireplace and rug. Walls in beige tones


You don’t have to hire a professional decorator, but learning just a few simple tweaks like these will give your home that professionally-designed appearance. 

Next: 3 Simple Tips to Create Style on Your Dresser or Credenza