7 Common Interior Design Mistakes to Avoid

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Last updated: April 10, 2023

You’re going to have interior design mistakes but it’s not the end of the world! We have seen so many people get frustrated when things go wrong and it’s understandable. Unless you have the money to pay for it, you find yourself bootstrapping your way through the design school of hard knocks only to find out you’ve made more than a few – sometimes – costly mistakes.

We’ve compiled a top list of the most common interior design mistakes I’ve seen across the board; don’t worry, they’re more common than you think and we hope this helps you.

  1. Interior Design Mistake #1: Scale
  2. Interior Design Mistake #2: Area Rugs
  3. Interior Design Mistake #3: Artwork
  4. Interior Design Mistake #4: White Paint
  5. Interior Design Mistake #5: Clutter
  6. Interior Design Mistake #6: Window Treatments
  7. Interior Design Mistake #7: Lighting

Interior Design Mistake #1: Scale

The number one item that many have seen is that the idea of scale for furnishings is completely off. Whether you’re facing a tight spacing situation or one where you have ample space, most experience the same problems with the scale and furnishings ratio.

The solution to this is to not to anything or proceed with anything until you’ve literally made a floor plan. You start by marking out any doorways or windows that may affect the furniture layout and then look at what your furniture sizes are. Do you have a 6-foot couch or a 96-inch dining room table? It comes down to what do you have or what do you need or want? Once you’ve identified this, you can put it into your floor plan.

Interior Design Mistake #2: Area Rugs

The solution for area rugs is to go with a vendor that sells wall-to-wall carpeting and then pick out a pattern that you like and which normally goes wall to wall. You can have it ordered in the size 12 by 18 as this would be the area you’d need for your furnishings. You can find this easily with a Google search, consider Home Depot or Wayfair, or some more specialized rug vendors on the market.

You will be surprised but there are great-looking roll carpets that can be done in an area rug. It will look custom and separates furniture groupings properly.

Interior Design Mistake #3: Artwork

Indian woman and man looking at art painting

Another major mistake relates to artwork. You want to make sure it’s not too higher or too low for people in your living space. You may have a fabulous baseline with either 14-foot ceilings or maybe you’re in an apartment with an 8 1/2 foot ceiling. Regardless, you want to make sure the artwork relates to the viewer, not your living space.

The solution is to ensure the center of the artwork is somewhere between 60 to 65 inches above your floor. This works well because there is a general understanding that 60 to 65 inches are very close to the viewer’s line of sight.

The solution is to ensure the center of the artwork is somewhere between 60 to 65 inches above your floor. This works well because there is a general understanding that 60 to 65 inches are very close to the viewer’s line of sight.

There is a second mistake when it comes to artwork. Sometimes, there’s just too much of it that it can cause phobia because it’s cluttered or too busy. We’ve seen some great gallery-type walls and they are popular but you really should focus on an artwork collection or statement that has no more than three pieces to it. This makes a statement versus giving the impression of a crowded collection of artwork that becomes overwhelming because there are too many things that are the same or different.

Interior Design Mistake #4: White Paint

The solution is to ensure the center of the artwork is somewhere between 60 to 65 inches above your floor. This works well because there is a general understanding that 60 to 65 inches are very close to the viewer’s line of sight.

People usually make the mistake of opting for cooler whites but you need to always look at white in your proper lighting situation and how it’s going to be seen. In another article, we can look at the process of paint selection and proper lighting during the selection process.

Keep in mind, cooler whites tend to make things look less healthy whereas, a slightly warmer white tends to bring out red tones and natural skin colors. This explains why bathrooms are not painted in dark heavy colors like green or blue and suddenly feel sick. There are some exceptions to this if we’re looking to Mediterranean-style homes or even homes replicated in that manner in Palm Desert or Palm Springs or very rare circumstances when a parent has painted their child’s room in a sports team color; the child will love it even if it’s hard on the eyes for the rest of us.

In conclusion, always air on the side of caution of slightly warmer than you’d normally select.

Interior Design Mistake #5: Clutter

Modern life has created a major problem. For some, it’s so serious that it gained the attention of specialists who investigate cluster and out-of-control hoarding. For the rest of us, clutter is a big problem and we simply collect too many things. With interior design, it really is taboo to have more than three objects in a visual grouping together because it’s too much for the viewer.

Walk into any space and you’ll find stuff stacked on tables and while stacked books have been a design feature statement for some time, it’s really making too many different visual statements, which all lined up together, create a messy appearance!

If you feel you already have too much, you most likely do.

Walk into any of your spaces and grab the first thing you see and take it out. Then try again and do it about two or three times and you might be in a position where you’ve dialed down the drama or noise that may be happing on your coffee table, for example.

Someone close to me has a partner who doesn’t realize she has a clutter or hoarding program. I’ve gone to their home and felt absolutely claustrophobic because everything felt dense, crowded, and suffocating. And yet, they re-designed and older three-floor duplex-style home, breaking down first-floor wall barriers which were a design feature in the early 1900’s, but created narrow tight halls and smaller tight spaces. It made everything so condensed, dark, depressing.

You should de-clutter the center of your dining room, in your kitchen, in your dresser, your bedroom, your bathroom, and on counters. These are the spaces where things can absolutely get out of hand.

Interior Design Mistake #6: Window Treatments

Drapery is a tricky matter but never have them hanging above the floor. Try to hang the rod as high up as you can so that it gets you as close to the ceiling as possible which gives us the experience of height. If you have a 12-foot ceiling, you really should not hang any drapery at 12 feet.

You need to ensure that you create a nice long feel to the drapery. If you buy pre-fabricated panels from various vendors like Target, a lot of the time, they’ll stop at a certain length, 102 or X number of inches.

The solution or trick for those with ceilings that are nine and a half feet high is to get the longest panel you can get, take the hem out, and re-pin the hem. Hang the drapery as high as you can but realize they will be too short as they don’t make them any longer than this. If you undo the hem and drop it as far as you can (even if someone has to add a bit of lining on the bottom to give it more length), you gain the last inch of the fabric panel and it will look much better. You simply don’t want to have a drapery sitting three to four inches from the floor and ask, “Did the cleaner shrink them?” People notice and will realize it just doesn’t look right.

If you have a regular-sized ceiling, don’t buy the normal size you’d usually buy and instead purchase the slightly longer one and you can take the hem up.

So again, the solution is that if you’re buying pre-fabricated panels, you have flexibility with the hem. The rule of them of where you put the drapery rod is that you want to give yourself four to five inches from the ceiling maximum. This is where the rod would go and the draper hangs from there.

If you have very high ceilings, the draper will have to be customized but the vendors will come out, measure to the floor and you won’t have to deal with the issue.

Interior Design Mistake #7: Lighting

Lighting is a complex subject but at minimum, you want to have ambient lighting that comes from overhead or from their sources that help shine light in all directions.

You also want to have task-oriented lighting to support reading in bed, or your living room, or the kitchen. As such, you want to look at the lighting on the countertop.

A third suggestion is to consider art or feature lighting. For example, lighting that shines down on artwork or angles it from above or even use floor lighting to shine up onto an item. Backlit lighting of plants can be an amazing feature.

Above all, you want to be sure you can adjust the lumen level or the light level in the space. The rule of thumb is to generally put everything on a dimmer but that can get expensive.

Make sure all items with ambient lighting can be adjusted up or down to brighten up dark corners in the late afternoon so things are as bright as possible. You also want to be able to turn lights down to candlelight level for a nice, romantic evening. Dimmers help with all of this but you can turn them off completely if you have two other light sources in the room.

But sometimes that’s a little expensive, so make sure that the pieces that are ambient lighting can go up and down so that if you really want to be able to clean in your dark corners, you know in the late afternoon you can turn those lights up as light as bright as possible and get into those corners. Or if you know if you’re having a little bit of a romantic evening.

All photos in this article are from StockUnlimited.com.

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