Design Mistakes to Avoid - Part 2

June 04, 2017

Last week, we discussed the following mistakes to avoid 1) Lack of Planning, 2) Ignoring Function, 3) Too Many Furnishings, 4) Color Schemes, and 5) Hanging Art.  If you missed last week’s entry, you are encouraged to go back and read (or reread it if you just scanned) it.  We give some important tips in this entry.

Today, we’re sharing other common mistakes people make when remodeling or decorating a space in their home, and how to avoid them: 1) Lacking a Focal Point, 2) Keeping Scale and Proportion in mind, 3) Poor Lighting, and 4) Adding Character for your spaces.

                              Great feng shui:  "command position" in a home office

You Need a Focal Point

Every room needs a focal point: a place where the eye can stop and rest, and tells the viewer the function of the room.  Larger rooms can have more than one focal point, but there should be a hierarchy of primary, secondary, and minor emphasis, for instance.  The bed is often the obvious focal point in a bedroom because of its size in relation to the room.  The fireplace is often the natural focal point in a living, family or great room.  One way or another, you need to have a focal point, as it tells people what to do and how to behave in the space.  Having seating that faces the fireplace tells people that conversation is what this room is about, and encourages them to sit down and chat.  If you face the sofa one direction and other chairs too far away or facing another direction, people (including your family) won’t feel comfortable in that room.  A flat screen TV in a media room, with seating facing the screen, tells people to sit down and watch the show.  What if you don’t have a fireplace in your living room?  First find a purpose/function for the room.  Then find the piece that draws the eye.  That could be because of its large size, its vibrant color, its contrasting color, or its function. 






Scale & Proportion

Scale and proportion are closely related, and are the hardest element of design to effectively achieve.  Scale refers to the overall size, whether in reference to a space, room, object or even pattern.  Proportion has to do with the relationship or ratio of part to the whole. An example is the relationship of a chair’s legs to its seat to its back to its arms.  

If you ended up with Aunt Martha’s antique couch, which is mammoth in relationship to your room or even the people who need to sit on it, then that’s a problem.  If you absolutely love it, then keep it with the knowledge that it’s probably going to be the focal point (whether you want it to or not,) and understand that it’s going to be a lot more challenging to get the scale and proportion right in the room.  This is where you might want to call in an interior designer to help you with this design element.  If you don’t absolutely love it, then (rather than spending a lot of money re-upholstering it to make it fit) give it to another family member who will enjoy it.  

While it’s important to consider the size of your room in relationship to your furnishings, I do not recommend buying matching sofa, love seat and chair(s) in the same material, style and proportion, or matching coffee table with end tables, or even 3 lamp sets: 1 floor and 2 table.  Think of the room like a cityscape: there are some taller buildings and some wider buildings.  That’s what creates the balance of scale and proportion.  You could also think of the room like nature: there are tall mountains, low rivers that snake through the landscape, as well as trees of various size and shape.  Repetition is good in a room, but too much is just plain boring, like the first picture below.

                                            Too much repetition is monotonous.

Photo credit:

Poor Lighting

Lighting can make a dramatic difference in any room.  Some rooms have lots of natural light from large windows and skylights.  But what happens when the sun goes down?  The right amount of lighting and careful placement can make your color scheme sing.  You can use ambient lighting to help create a mood in a room, use task lighting for a desk or reading corner, and use accent lighting to bring attention to that focal point you want to be seen first.

Add up lights, down lights, and all around to create interest and the feeling of space. Lights are the most amazing way of making a space feel warm and hospitable. Using several lamps throughout a space creates a warm glow in the room, and actually makes a room look larger.

Photo Credit:  Jill Green, Designer






Add Some Character

While it’s really fun to tour furniture showrooms, model homes and the like, don’t go crazy buying everything at once or from the same store.  The result will be that your home will likely lack character.  Your home should be a reflection of you and your family members. Avoid this mistake: Instead of scattering your collection all over the house, hone your collection and display it beautifully in arrangements and groupings.






                                                                                      Photo credit: FFOD_Chango-and-Co

                           Photo credit: Sherwin-Williams "Unbounded"

Need help?

It can be hard to spot mistakes when we’ve been working on a project for almost 9 weeks, months or longer.  Ask a trusted friend for an honest opinion on color choice, textiles or room arrangement. Try to find a friend whose house is well designed and decorated, of course, but even a friend who dresses with a great eye for style and color can help.

If it’s financially feasible, hire an interior designer for assistance.  Most designers will work for an hourly fee for a color consult, or to sit down for a few hours to look at selections of fabrics and textiles to tell you before you’ve purchased them if they’re going to work or not.  Often you save money on your overall project, and (as importantly) you'll end up with something you love, rather than wanting to throw in the towel.

We’ll end with the same words as always:  If you need help, give  us a call or send a text or email. Check out this website for further information.


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