Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Top 10 Home Decorating Mistakes to Avoid

We all fall prey to the projects in our home and get too used to our surroundings, and then mistakes start to happen. These are my top ten decorating mistakes that are easily fixable.

1. Hanging draperies too low. What good is a 10’ ceiling if you do things that lower it visually? Window treatments that are outside mounted on the wall need to go as high as possible in almost every instance. Mount the rods or the header right underneath crown molding, or at the point where the wall meets the ceiling. Otherwise, it looks like you cut the rooms off at the knees when the treatment sits directly on top of the window.

2. Hanging artwork too high. This one can be tough if you are 6’7”. There are some judgment calls to make depending on the artwork, but in most cases the horizontal centerline of a picture should be at eye level. This is not particularly helpful advice since people vary in height, but an average-size person should be able to look comfortably at a picture without having to either bend down or look up.

3. Over-lighting an area. I’ve walked into rooms with so many cans that I’ve actually gotten warm from the heat they give off. It’s also not too flattering to those who are in it. While there is not a steadfast rule to how many recessed lights should be installed as it depends on ceiling height, duct work, etc, the main thing is to put all overhead lights on dimmer switches. Depending on the room consider table and floor lighting that adds ambience. Rooms that are under-lit are just as bad – think general lighting, task lighting, accent lighting.

4. Don’t insist on painting a room a defined color without choosing a rug or fabric first. That so called sage green you loved on the chip may not match a single thing, and cause you to burn more time running around town or on the internet than you ever wanted.

5. Hanging the dining table chandelier too high. This one has a rule of thumb, and it is no more than 32” – 38” above the table. The fixture should never obstruct the view of your guests, and the light should never seem glaring. Modern fixtures that do not have a lot of body to them may be hung higher, as will fixtures with down lights. Always put your chandelier on a dimmer switch!

6. One of my biggest peeves are putting too many pairs of things in a room – pair of lamps, pair of sofas, pair of candles – while some duos are not a bad thing, we don’t want the room to start looking like Noah’s ark.

7. Rugs that are too small for the space. Nothing looks worse than a rug that appears like it was left floating in the middle of a pool. Rugs should be large enough that either all of the furniture should sit on top of the rug, or all of the furniture should frame the rug and sit just off of it. Be certain to measure the dimensions of your room first and the rug is large enough that your furniture arrangement can fit easily on top of or framing it without any crowding.

8. This one may be more of a personal preference, but when arranging your furniture, avoid placing large pieces like beds or sofas on the diagonal. It can make too much of a statement be impractical as it takes up too much room and leaves areas of unused space behind it. Having the large pieces flush or parallel to the walls allows for much better use of space with easier access to outlets and traffic flow. However if you must, try the rug on the diagonal to see if it will work.

9. Being too well matched. Break out of your shell and try something unexpected, for crying out loud! While decorators preach that homes need to flow with their color and patterns, it’s still essential to add some pop to break up the perfection. Throw a blue vase into a predominantly yellow room, or use modern art with antique furniture. This is a room that screams to be broken – your home should speak of your personality, not the cover of a catalog.

10. Not using color. Those all white rooms are very serene, but face it - they are boring. With so many robust colors to choose from, there is no excuse to not bring it in. Find a fabric you love, or a favorite piece of artwork and pull colors against it that inspire you.

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