Designers see many of the same decorating don’ts over and over in people’s homes. The mistakes often stem from a fear of making a design mistake in the first place. We consulted with designers in the American Society of Interior Designers Missouri East chapter to find out how to prevent decorating mistakes that can be costly and unsightly.
* Painting the walls before choosing furnishings
People tend to fall in love with a paint color they want to design a room around, says Catherine Geyer of Catherine Geyer Designs, St. Louis. But, while you can mix infinite paint colors, you can’t mix a fabric color. It can be more difficult to find upholstery, fabrics and accessories in a very specific shade than to have a paint color customized to what you’ve purchased, Geyer said.
* Buying pieces out of proportion
The size of furniture should be in scale in comparison with the rest of the room, Geyer says. Furniture in retail stores, with very high ceilings and wide open spaces, looks very different than in a home. Buyers can end up with an oversized or overstuffed sofa that looked good in the store. “This is what I did, “a client has said, while showing Geyer a sofa entirely too large for the room. “We can’t take it back,” is usually the follow-up.
It requires a little bit of planning, but map out the size of the room and existing furniture you have. Write down the height, width and depth, along with the room dimensions. It can prevent a costly mistake.
* Choosing a rug that is too small for a room
This an another common error in scale and proportion that can be avoided by taking measurements into a store with you. You need to know the room dimensions and the size of the largest pieces in it that the rug will lie in relation to.
* Inadequately lighting a room
Many rooms and entire houses are poorly lighted.
“It’s hard for people to know where to put the lighting, “ she said.
There’s a difference between overhead lighting and accent lighting. The light in a room should be layered and from different sources.
* Hanging window treatments too low
This makes the room look short and stubby, said Cindy Kistner of G.M. Doveikis and Associates of St. Louis. People think they should use brackets on the top trim or just above it. In reality, it looks better to hang window treatments up to a foot above the trim. It makes the window look taller and gives the illusion of height to a room. A valance above the window exposes more of the glass to allow more light.
n Scattering collections all over the house
Kistner collects boxes. “If they were all over the house, people would wonder if that’s all I had to decorate the house.” Grouping similar items together gives them more impact and allows them to complement one another.
* Decorating each room in a bubble
A home that feels comfortable flows from room to room with some continuity. This is especially important for rooms that are open to one another, such as the entertaining areas: living, dining, kitchen and hearth, Kistner said.
If the colors are completely different or the tones are completely different, such as having one room done in pastels and another in bold colors, it is disharmonious to the eye. The same goes for having different flooring in every room, such as a different colored carpet, or different types flooring. It chops up the space.
* Not using family photos in the living spaces
People think they are not supposed to do that, Kistner said.
“Isn’t there someone who’s face makes you smile to look at it?” A few well-placed pieces are much more appreciated than a score of photos on every surface. “My boss always said she didn’t trust people who didn’t have photos in their home. You live in your home. Don’t you want to look around and see things that make you smile?”