Design Mistakes to Avoid- Part 1

May 28, 2017

When you see a room where everything looks perfect at a Street of Dreams (near Portland, OR this year starting in July) or even a model home in a new neighborhood, it’s hard to envision what those fixtures, furniture and equipment will look like in your home. Often, you’ve purchased pieces with a custom fabric and you can’t take it back, not to mention paying double for delivery charges BOTH ways if it’s a stock piece.  Interior Design is a profession for a reason, and it takes a good eye, understanding of value and very careful planning to make a space work beautifully and efficiently.  Here are some suggestions for you to consider when you’re remodeling, or just giving a new face to an space in your home.

Photo credit: Hatfield Builders Remodelers Whitehall


Photo credit: House Beautiful


1. Start by collecting photos from magazines or online on sites like or of styles you like, color schemes that appeal to you.  Take photos of a model home that you love so you can recreate the look in your home.

2. Measure the space(s) so that you can draw them- either on the computer or on graph paper.  




3. Go out shopping at retail furniture stores to get a better idea of pricing before you set a budget. 

4. Take the free* help from interior decorators who work for stores such as Ethan Allen, Pottery Barn, or the like.  They can often steer you away from making a mistake you might otherwise make.  Remember, you don’t have to buy their product if it isn’t just exactly what you want. 

5. Keep in mind that it often takes 6-8 weeks (sometimes longer) to get a custom piece of furniture, so this isn’t going to be done in 3 months or less (like those TV shows that change rooms in days.)

6. Set your budget with a solid idea of what you are going to be able to afford and set your priorities based on hierarchal scale of what must be purchased and what can be purchased.

*Just remember that you’ll pay more for their furniture because somebody has to pay them for their work, and they can only sell pieces from the store that they work for, which can be limiting.


Ignoring the Function of a Space

Form follows function.  If you concede the function because you saw something online that’s awesome but doesn’t fit your needs, then that’s a problem.  Here’s an example: 

1. If you’re redecorating a media room, think about the size of the room in relationship to the flat screen you’re purchasing.  Do you ever choose to sit in a movie theatre in the front row? Probably not, so a smaller space means a smaller flatscreen. 

               Too big vs...





                                                                                                            ...just right!

2. Think about the number of people you’d like to seat comfortably, and leave enough space for people to move around comfortably when they get up to get a drink or snack if that’s part of the room’s function.  

3. If light from a window is going to reflect on the flat screen and affect the picture, then you might consider black-out window coverings.


Overwhelming a Space With Too Many Furnishings

A cluttered look is often the result of over-furnishing a room.  Avoid this mistake by taking your time when ordering pieces of furniture.  Start with the main piece, like the sofa or sectional in a family room.  Before ordering, use painter’s tape on the floor to draw out how much real estate it’s going to cover. Do the same for other pieces, but try placing just a few key pieces for a room.  (If you’re buying a tall bookshelf, then measure up the wall as well where you intend to place it.)  Furniture should be comfortable for everyone in the household.  Avoid getting a couch that the largest person feels like he/she is sitting on a child’s seat, or the smallest adult feels like he/she is sitting in a giant’s chair. Buying pieces with a proper scale means, in part, that they should accommodate everyone in the home.

Years ago I had a friend who once told me, “The moment the movers arrived with our new sectional, I knew it was too big for our TV room.  But it was too late.  They brought it in and filled up every inch of space. If we hadn’t split it up, you would have had to climb over its back to get into the room. What a nightmare… and a waste of money.”

Too many pieces of similar size here...




                                                                               This room also has too many pieces in it.

Lack of a Color Scheme

Pick 3 colors max as a general rule.




                                                                                             This room lacks color pizzazz.

A color scheme can pull a room together like nothing else.  It can help the eye target the focal point of the room, and “connect the dots” with splashes of color throughout.  Using too many colors can often be a problem, so consider 3: one main (60%), one secondary (30%) and one accent (10%) that’s used sparingly.

Hanging Art

Everyone should display art in their home, whether it’s a valuable oil painting or your kindergartener’s drawing. The problem often comes when you’re going to hang the art beautifully.  Arrangements can be done as a vignette, such as the following:


Here are some other great basics on how you might hang your art:


In Conclusion

We have too many suggestions for one blog, so we'll add more to this entry next week.   If you need help, contact us through this website, and we’ll set up an appointment to help you best design your space.

            We convert ordinary spaces into extraordinary places!

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