In this post: Sometimes, when we put a room together, it doesn’t look quite how we’d planned it in our minds. In this article, I’m going to show you 8 common design mistakes you’re making without even knowing it…and how to fix them!


We all know that a beautiful home can do wonders for your mind, body and soul. It can welcome weary friends and give them a place to rest when they need it most. A beautiful home can be a refuge from the world and a place you and your family can recharge before heading out to do battle with the everyday.

But sometimes, when we put a room together, it doesn’t look quite how we’d planned it in our minds. A lot of the time, that’s because we’re making one or more common design mistakes without even knowing it!

I love to get to the point, without wasting time. So, in the next few paragraphs, I’m going to show you the top 8 design mistakes you’re probably making and how to fix them! Stick with me until the end of the post. This article is going to have you smiling all the day long…because you’ll finally be able to pull your rooms together so they look just like you’ve been imagining they could!

design mistakes

8 Design Mistakes You May Not Even Know You’re Making…and How to Fix Them!

Before I tell you the mistakes, I want to encourage you. This list isn’t meant to make you feel bad about your decorating. It’s meant to help you see your space from a decorator’s perspective and give you SOLUTIONS to the mistakes I see all the time. They’re generally easy enough fixes that can bring improvement and a more cohesive style to your home fairly quickly.

Read the list with an open mind and an eye on the positive changes you can make armed with this new knowledge! 

On with the list…

Mistake #1: Too Much Furniture

It can happen innocently enough. A friend is giving away a gorgeous chair. You bought a new sofa and coffee table. Then you find a great dresser at a thrift store and add it to the mix. The problem is, after awhile, you accumulate way too much furniture for a space. Soon your room is crowded and crammed, instead of cozy and welcoming.

The fix for this mistake is to ruthlessly edit your furniture. Keep only what you TRULY love…and what fits in the space well. Perhaps another room or a friend’s home could benefit from your editing.

Trust me, you’ll thank me when you can breath in your space again!

Mistake #2: Wrong-Sized Rug

Usually with this mistake, a rug is too small for a space. Rarely is it too large for a room. Wrong-sized rugs happen way more often than you’d think. Mostly this is because smaller rugs are cheaper than larger rugs. But if you shop around you can find a good deal on the right sized rug. Plus you can always layer a larger, cheaper rug under a smaller, nicer rug too! Like we did in our living room here:

Living Room with new coffee table

We have an area rug size guide blog post and printable specifically created to help you solve this problem. Get the Area Rug Size Guide here.

Mistake #3: Matchy-Matchy Furniture Sets

I’m pretty sure if you’ve ever shopped at a big box furniture store, you’ve made this mistake at least once in your adult life. I know Dean and I have made it more than a few times.

For real. When Dean and I were younger, we purchased an entire matching bedroom set. Not once, but twice. And we’ve done it with dining room sets too. There’s no faster way to have your home look bland and cheap, with little character.

But by mixing and matching pieces, you create the look of furniture collected over time. you can also save money by thrifting some pieces or accepting hand me downs from friends and family that blend seamlessly into your home decor. (Just don’t let this lead you back to Mistake #1!)

If you’ve got a room full of matching pieces, perhaps try moving one or two of them to another room. And then bring in a thrifted piece or an antique to break up the sameness of a matching set. 

Mistake #4: Furniture Lining the Walls

Let’s face it, it’s easy to just line the furniture against the outer walls of a room. It takes no thought or imagination. But it’s also a pretty boring way to style a room !

Unless your space is VERY small, you should try to pull at least some of the furniture away from the walls. Maybe even try a piece or two at an angle.

Play around with your space, look at photos online for room layout ideas. You’ll be surprised at the difference it makes!

Mistake #5: Art Hung at the Wrong Height

Art at the wrong height. Oh my. The number of times I’ve seen this mistake made is insane!

Typically, the recommendation is to hang art at eye level. But whose eye level? My 5’ 1” eye level is vastly different than my 6’ 7” brother-in-law’s eye level! So, how do you determine where to hang art?

The best rule is to hang art so that its center is at (or about) 57 inches from the floor. But you can adjust this rule if it’s hanging over a mantel or couch or something else. In this case, the art should be hung with its bottom edge 6-8 inches above the mantel or couch, etc.

And for a gallery wall, you should treat all the pieces together as one piece when determining hanging height. (And keep about 3-6 inches between each piece otherwise.)

how to fix design mistakes

Mistake #6: Choosing Paint Color First

Choosing a paint color sometimes seems complicated enough without making it the first decision when decorating a room.

You need a basis on which to make the paint color decision.

Never, ever choose your paint color first. Instead choose the large pieces you’ll use, perhaps a couch or a large rug, and then base your paint color choice off of those other elements.

Mistake #7: Multiple (or No) Focal Points

There are two parts to this mistake: either choosing multiple focal points or none. Both make a room look awkward and haphazard.

Sometimes a space will have a natural, built-in focal point. Like a fireplace and shelves or an architectural detail. Other times you’ll have to choose or even create one. A new mantel or even a tv stand.

A focal point gives your room direction and a way in which to orient the space and furniture. It provides a grounding effect in a room and creates visual peace.

Mistake #8: Lack of Lighting

We’ve all been there, living in a rental that has no overhead lights. Or had a home where there was ONLY overhead lighting. Both seem off somehow.

That’s because a room needs three kinds of lighting: ambient, accent and task lighting.

  1. Ambient lighting is the overhead lighting, chandeliers, pot lights, etc. This provides an overall light to a room.
  2. Accent lighting builds on ambient lighting. it can draw attention to a focal point or highlight a unique design element and add warmth to a space.
  3. Task lighting is exactly what it sounds like – lighting you need for say, reading or crafting. By adding all three types of lighting to your space you create depth, interest and warmth.

Imagine the difference in your home if you just fixed these 8 mistakes in each of your main rooms! I’m guessing you’d be uber happy with the improvements you can make in your space in just a matter of days!

Pin for later!

If you can’t get to these fixes today, pin this post to come back to later!

design mistakes

So, are you like me? Have you made these design mistakes too?

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