6 common mistakes to avoid when decorating

Caitlin Hughes Caitlin Hughes
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Though decorating can seem overwhelming, with so much choice when it comes to styles and themes, it doesn't have to be a stressful experience. In fact, decorating should be fun! It's an opportunity for you to put your own stamp on your personal space, and create rooms that reflect your tastes and individual style. Creativity is something to embrace in all areas of life: interior design is certainly no exception. 

With that said, there are some basic rules when it comes to decorating that everybody should keep in mind. Following these simple tips will ensure your home is the best it can be, ready for you to add the little finishing touches that make it unique. It doesn't require a drastic approach—these rules are easy to implement. From things as basic as choosing the correct lighting, to avoiding clutter, there are a few key ways to make a huge difference to the look and feel of your home.

1) Bad lighting

Fitted Kitchen, Newton Mearns, Glasgow, Scotland: classic Kitchen by Glenlith Interiors (Scotland) Ltd
Glenlith Interiors (Scotland) Ltd

Fitted Kitchen, Newton Mearns, Glasgow, Scotland

Glenlith Interiors (Scotland) Ltd

Good lighting is essential in every room, though all too often it is an afterthought, resulting in a single form of overhead lighting that doesn't create the right vibe. Soft lighting makes sense in the bedroom and lounge as these are the places you will be relaxing after a long day. It goes without saying that you don't want a spotlight beaming down on you as you're trying to enjoy a good book or doze off on the couch. Soft white bulbs and dimmers are a good choice for a mellow atmosphere, and energy saving bulbs also work well. They take a little bit of time to come into their own, but you don't need instant illumination in the living room or bedroom, and it will also leave you with a clear conscience, knowing you're helping the environment. 

There are also clever lighting options for the kitchen and bathroom, including back lighting as you can see in this image here, which allows light to be dispersed around the room rather than coming from a single point on the ceiling. Considere lighting under the kitchen cabinets or island—if you have reflective flooring, it will be even more effective in brightening up the room. Having numerous light sources means the room is evenly lit, and you can turn some lights off when they're not needed. Now all you need to do is choose where you want them to shine.

2) Choosing furniture which is too big

If you have a big room then this is less of an issue, as you can make pretty much anything work. However, more often than not, cosy little lounges struggle to accommodate disproportionately large furniture. Bought with the best of intentions (usually on offer, online, or without proper room measurements being taken), bulky couches and slightly-too-long side tables are forced into small homes, making them look even smaller. The solution: take measurements, don't buy on a whim, and consider how much furniture you have or need. Think of all your furniture in relation to each piece in the room to give proper consideration to how it will all work together. You can use the image here as a reference point as to how furniture should be proportioned in a room.

If you want some ideas for furnishing a small flat, this ideabook on multi-functional furniture will point you in the right direction.

3) Poorly arranged furniture

Flock carpets made in 100% Laneve, a premium wool sourced from Wools of New Zealand:  Walls & flooring by Flock Living
Flock Living

Flock carpets made in 100% Laneve, a premium wool sourced from Wools of New Zealand

Flock Living

Your furniture should suit the room's function, allowing for free movement and comfortable use of the space. You should also think about the purpose of the room and how you intend on using it on a daily basis. Take this example: if your couches are facing the T.V., rather than each other, you're less likely to use the room for chatting to friends or entertaining guests. Maybe that could suit some people, but this set-up is falling out of fashion in favour of a more sociable approach. If you're ad hoc with the placement of your furniture, it's likely you will end up with a cluttered and crowded space that doesn't really work, and end up having to move it all again. 

4) Interrupting the flow between rooms

Light and bright living space : modern Dining room by PAD ARCHITECTS
PAD ARCHITECTS

Light and bright living space

PAD ARCHITECTS

You don't need to have a completely open-plan layout like this to create a flow between rooms. A continuous colour scheme creates a connection between each room, with neutral colours being the best option. Using a bright colour in the hall, kitchen and dining room is going to be slightly overbearing, but white or cream provides a blank canvas on which you can build, without making the rooms look too busy. An absolute no-no is to decorate in completely different, even clashing styles, if you want an elegant home that looks well thought-through. 

Glass doors can also be a good way to create a flow between living areas, and they allow light into areas it otherwise wouldn't reach. If you're feeling confident in your DIY skills, getting rid of unnecessary interior walls will open up the space, and there will be no dark corners or pokey rooms left to worry about!

5) Decorating around something you wont keep

Squint Emporium: modern Living room by Squint Limited
Squint Limited

Squint Emporium

Squint Limited

It makes perfect sense not to do this, and yet we still do it. We buy something that we're not 100% sure of, then can't bare to admit we don't really like it, and then decorate around it as if we'll suddenly realise that it's the best thing we've ever purchased. As they say, 'If you don't love something, let it go'. 

The cool and quirky table you can see here would make a great statement piece, and because of the bold pattern and colour, teaming it with monochrome interiors is a sensible move. However, if you have something you don't really love, don't factor it in to the equation. Decide what statement you want to make, and if you're furniture doesn't fit in with that, you have to get rid. 

6) Too many fussy accessories

Master bedroom: modern Bedroom by Eisner Design
Eisner Design

Master bedroom

Eisner Design

Fussy accessories can make your home look cluttered and do what you've tried to avoid with step 4—it can interrupt the flow between rooms. Stick to key statement items to introduce prints and bold colours. A funky chair or one feature wall has a much better impact than lots of little colourful trinkets and prints. Of course, there should always be room for sentimental items and personal flourishes, but don't over-do it as too many accessories detract from each other and ultimately look messy. 

Do you have any tips for decorating to share? Leave a comment in the section below
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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