August 26, 2010

The 7 Most Common Decor Mistakes


“What happens when great rooms go really wrong? We'll tell you how to spot (and fix) the most common culprits.

We're not talking grave lapses in taste, like plastic-covered sofas, avocado-colored fridges or anything resembling a doily. We just mean the little blunders. Think: harsh overhead lighting, behemoth TVs masquerading as "art," or oversized sectionals crowding tiny rooms.
Awkward? Yep. Fixable? You bet. Read on to find out how.

Mistake #1: The Unanchored Rug 

The Problem:
Floating area rugs (rugs without any furniture on top of them) are a big fat decorating no-no. They look ready to fly off, magic carpet style.
The Solution: Rule of thumb: A rug should have something anchoring at least one of its sides, even if it's just the front two feet of a couch. Hint: Coffee tables were practically meant to rest on top of rugs.

Mistake #2: Furniture that Needs a Crash Diet

The Problem:
Whether it's the dining room table crammed into the breakfast nook or the jumbo sectional shoehorned into the too-small den, disproportionately scaled furniture can wreck a room.
The Solution: If it feels awkward, it is. As soon as possible, replace the offending item with a smaller-scale piece. In the meantime, keep the rest of the room as stripped-down as possible to avoid claustrophobia. Measure the room, and carry the dimensions with you. That way, the next piece you buy will be perfectly sized.

Mistake #3: Regrettable Paint Choices

The Problem:
That awesome mint green paint chip turned pea soup once it hit the wall, but you've been reluctant to repaint. Maybe you consider painting to be the lowest depth of human misery, or maybe you were just hoping it'd grow on you.
The Solution: Trust us -- it's not growing on anyone. And life is too short to live with a room you don't like. Repainting is the only way out. But relax -- this is a single-day project. Once the hideous color is gone, the healing can begin.

Mistake# 4: Not Knowing When to Say "When"

The Problem:
Coco Chanel once famously said that before a woman leaves the house, she should take off one thing. The same principle applies to your home, where editing is key. Unless you're a hardcore minimalist, you've probably got too much stuff.
The Solution: Removing just one object -- a vase, a picture frame -- will make the remaining items stand out. And cycling items in and out of decor rotation will ensure that all of your best-loved pieces get a chance to show off.

Mistake #5: Sticking to a Single Design Era

The Problem:
Unless you live in a mid-century Swedish design museum or on the set of "Mad Men," variety is the spice of life.
The Solution: It's always a good idea to mix and match pieces from different eras. Think: an industrial-modern lamp next to an overstuffed couch.   Otherwise, a space can look stage-y and unnatural.

Mistake #6: The Super-Sized TV

The Problem:
As TVs grow increasingly ginormous, they can dwarf your space, making it look like a cramped bachelor pad.
The Solution: There's nothing you can do once a too-big TV is already crammed into a regular-sized room, but there are ways to minimize the awkwardness. First, make sure your TV has company and isn't starkly placed against the wall. Put it in the recessed area of a fireplace or built-in shelving space, on top of a console table, or even surround it with like-colored picture frames.

Mistake # 7: Bad Lighting

The Problem:
The worst offenders include glaring overhead lighting and the unflattering old-school fluorescent bulbs that make your bathroom look like something from an '80s horror flick.
The Solution: Use soft white bulbs and dimmer switches for your overhead lights. And make sure your CFL bulbs are marked "warm white.”

[Source: : “The Nest”]

Even though I can’t take credit for this list of decor mistakes,  I am guilty of several of them!!

My Mistake # 3:

Our kitchen/den/breakfast room is GUILTY as charged.  It’s our largest room in the house, of course.  I am still trying to figure out where my design sense was when I decided to spend so much time executing this complicated finish on that much wall space!  It took me weeks to get it done.  Actually, it’s not the finish itself -  it’s the color!! 

I panicked right before the very last step, which was to trowel a light coat of brown wax over the entire wall.  This would have toned down the mustard gold and given the wall an incredible sheen.  But, if you have ever had to get wax off a wall, you understand why I skipped this step.  I’m talking mineral spirits and scrubbing until your arms fall off! 

Three years later, I am finding that I dislike my walls more than ever.


  This color wraps itself around you like,  hmmm…

spicy mustard on a hot dog!!!


You can appreciate the beauty of the finish here if you can stop asking, “What was she thinking?”

It  looks great at Thanksgiving and Christmas…


but, in the spring and summer it feels very heavy.
I can’t breath!!!
I am not going to jump into anything.  I have no idea what it would be anyway. So, since the holidays are just around the corner, I will take my time thinking this one through.
If anyone has a suggestion, I would LOVE to hear it.

My Mistake # 4:

Refer to any post that has photos of Blue Creek Home and you will see this mistake.

The suggested solution to this one will not help me.  “Removing just one object” will not make a dent in my “more is more” look!  

Anyway, I like that layered English look!  Who knows?  I  might just ADD one more thing!


My Mistake # 7:

My problem isn’t the “glaring overhead light” or “old  school florescent light” offense.

The solution to this problem will be simple.  I need to remove all of the bargain bin light bulbs and invest in good bulbs.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

So, are you guilty of any of the 7 mistakes listed in this article?  Maybe you don’t think some of them are mistakes.

Talking about it doesn’t solve the problem, but  I sure feel better after sharing mine!



  1. Rhonda, I love this post. I don't even want to start on the things I have in the mistake list! LOL! I do want to share that I, too, had the colors that looked great at Christmans and Thanksgiving... Golden Fleece and Bay Red... they are gone now... and I do feel so much lighter... LOL! I chose a color by Restoration Hardware... I thnk it was Ask. Anyway, I don't miss my gold and red... too much. LOL!
    PS I love your "more is more"... you do it well!

  2. Too funny! Thanx for sharing your mistakes!:) We all make them but I always find your home truly lovely!

  3. Hey Rhonda - Nice to be back too! Great post - I've been guilty of all those things in the past, now I stay in the whites and try to be sparse. Good call on the no wax - on HGTV I once saw them GLUE feathers ALL OVER a bedroom wall. Before you paint you'd have to build a new wall!

    Some wedding pics and more $0 fixin up coming today -


  4. I think I have made them all except the too big TV. Hard to edit and especially hard when you downsize. I am claiming the more is more idea too. Great post and I love your home. Hugs, Marty

  5. I love the color of the fireplace but I can see where it would be too much for the whole room.

    Maybe paint the rest of the room a soft linen color. You may also consider painting the mantle to lighten things up too.

    I would also find a bigger picture or mirror to set on the mantle as well. This grouping looks a little small to me. I agree you don't want to overstuff a room with furniture too big but I definitely think you can oversize some of the accessories to make the room feel bigger. If it was me I would have a large framed mirror setting on the mantle going almost all the way to the ceiling

    I find editing is the most difficult thing for people to do. Nobody wants to get rid of anything. I'm a firm believer in editing a room down and then storing some of the things you love and bring them out later exchanging them with other items in the room. Your rooms will not be too full and you can always change the look quickly by adding or taking away a few items. My MIL does this well. She has a room in their barn sectioned off just for this purpose. Every now and then she'll head for the barn and say "I'm going shopping!" lol

    Look forward to seeing what you do with your walls.

  6. Bonjour Rhonda,

    What a fabulous post! So many great tips. It is the little things that can make all the difference, for good or bad. I'm with yoy on the TV thing, such an eyesore, and is the center of attention...thank goodness for armoires :)
    Thanks for the decorating how-to!

  7. I like this post, Rhonda. Everything rang true although it's hard to admit your mistakes, especially paint because it's such a pain to do over.

    One thing I have found to do to sort of take the spotlight off the big TV us to have floor plants around it. It hides wires and makes it blend into the surroundings.


  8. Your mistake no. 4 is ALSO my mistake no.4!! I love my stuff!! I try, try, try to take out something and then it drive me crazy cos' I think, well that just looks "nekkid"! And I put it back! lol Drives me nuts!

    As for the color...I love it! I think it looks rich and tuscan...I have always loved it...

    Great post!

    Lou Cinda :)

  9. I agree with the rug one. I also don't think you should have a tiny rug just under the coffee table and no where else. That seems odd to me. The only floating rugs I have are in my entry and kitchen and bath. No furniture to put on top of them there.

    And I agree with the larger accessory comment. It's more restful to see a few larger pieces then a clutter of small pieces.

  10. Hi Rhonda,
    I think I might be guilty of too much stuff. I find it hard to remove even one thing! LOL!

    This is a great post and so true. I think I need to look around here and see what I can do to improve.


  11. I would texturize your's easy...with thick paint. Go with a soft white/ecru and take a sponge or cloth and sweep it on the wet paint texturizing it. Stand back, look at the wall, if you don't like it...sweep some more. It'll take a bit away from the fireplace and soften the room..making it cozy and comfy looking.

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  12. Nice post with a lot of good advice!

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  13. You are too funny. You have impeccable taste and I have read your blog long enough to know your home is gorgeous. The thing I admire most about you, Rhonda, is that you are not afraid to TRY an idea. It may not always work but when they do WOWZA! (Most recently your bed canopy!)

    Your Friend,

  14. It is like that expression-
    physician heal thyself.
    Sometimes I get stymied on what I need to do to fix things.
    This was a great post!

    White Spray Paint


So happy you are here - I love your comments!