The One Decorating Mistake Designers Always Notice

These easy tips will give your space that professional touch, even if you did it yourself.

The New Look
Wall-to-wall iron rods with rings allow the curtains to be pulled easily to reveal the full expanse of windows or block strong sunshine. Photo: Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

There are countless small choices to make when decorating a room—from flooring and paint to lighting and furniture, it's all important. But being faced with all of those decisions can certainly be intimidating and overwhelming, and it's easy to eventually start making choices based on convenience or cost. We get it. However, when seen through the eyes of a well-seasoned professional, there are a few key factors that signal a space's strong (or lacking) sense of design. Interior designers see all kinds of spaces that look off in one way or another, but the one decorating mistake they always notice? A misunderstanding of scale.

Perhaps it's the lack of a trained eye to seek out pieces with appropriate proportions, or maybe it's a case of missing the forest for the trees—in picking out every individual element with care, we fail to visualize the entire room together. Whatever the reason, there's no need to feel singled out if you're guilty of this decorating faux pas; it's a very common mistake designers come across—and one that is truly easy to fix.

Designers' issue with scale in a room has to do with the size of the objects you put in it, and how those objects relate to the size of the room itself and of the other pieces within it. If that sounds vague, that's because it is. Below we explain three common scale-related design issues—and how to fix them—to give your home the professional touch it deserves.

First Up: Rugs

Rugs have the ability to transform the overall aesthetic of a room, can define a space within a larger room, and most literally, serve as the platform for the furniture in the space to sit atop. The most frequent mistake designers see with rugs is choosing one that's too small. We get it, rugs are expensive, but the 5'x7' version of a high-end rug will still look like a cheaper choice than the 9'x12' rug you can snag at Target for half the price. In a living room, all the furniture should have at least the front legs on top of the rug, creating a pulled-together look that makes your space look polished and intentionally styled.

Second: Furniture Placement

Speaking of where your furniture sits, it's common to feel tempted to push all your furniture up against the walls. That might seem like a logical way to make a space look bigger (see more of the floor, the floor feels bigger—right?), but it actually can have the opposite effect. More importantly, it can make your room feel disjointed and without a focal point or purpose. Instead, most designers suggest pulling your furniture toward each other, creating a more intimate vignette that's prime for conversation (and all within reach of the same coffee table). Oh and look, now you have space along the wall for that bookshelf you've been eyeing.

Last: Artwork

Art is your finishing touch and can make or break a space. The most cringe-worthy mistake designers notice is framed artwork that's hung too high. We're not sure how this became such a common decorating error, but hold the hammer before you're tempted to hang your frame halfway between your entry table and the ceiling. The ideal height for artwork is at eye level, or around 58 inches from the ground to the middle of the frame. If you're hanging something above a piece of furniture, keep the art within inches of the top of the furniture. Your space—and the art itself—will instantly look more pulled together and higher end.

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