The worst decorating mistakes - accessories and lighting

The worst decorating mistakes and how to fix them – accessories and lighting

Wow, we made it to part four of this five-part series to discuss the worst decorating mistakes and how to fix them – accessories and lighting. If you’ve stuck around through each part – thank you! I hope the photos and fixes are helping you create rooms you love to live in. So far we’ve covered furniture, wall, and floor mistakes, so now let’s talk about accessories and lighting.

Keep in mind that I have made most, if not all, of these mistakes at some time or another so don’t feel embarrassed or frustrated – these are common and sometimes understandable mistakes. My hope is that you will consider some of the fixes or at least you’ll know what’s been bugging you about the room and you can fix it if you want.

I should also note, that this isn’t a complete list of decorating mistakes, and they’re largely recognized and agreed upon on by the design community – so don’t shoot the messenger. If you have a decorating dilemma or question, please email me directly or leave me a comment below – maybe your question can help others.


The worst decorating mistakes and how to fix them – accessories and lighting

Too many small accessories
Both of my daughters have accumulated large collections of nick-knacks and like most young girls, they put them all out on display. I do worry that this could continue when they become adults. I joke, but one of the worst decorating mistakes is displaying too many small accessories. It becomes clutter, a dust trap, and it just blends in without actually highlighting your style.

Lots of Knickknacks. Swell Media / Uppercut Images / Getty Images

To fix this issue, I recommend using plastic bins to store your accessories, and then you can swap them out each season or whenever you want a change of scenery. Displaying a collection together instead of spread out everywhere is another way to change a cluttery scene into an artistic display. It can be hard when you like many items individually, but that doesn’t mean they all look cute together. Remember, for a fresh and timeless look, less is more and contrast is key. Think about how to group a few accessories of varying heights and sizes to decorate tabletops. 


No negative space
When a decorated space doesn’t have negative space (empty space) it can feel over-done, cluttered, or unplanned. Not every space has to be filled, nor should it. The one exception is a bookcase, hutch, or picture ledge because these areas are designed for a continuous display. However, minimally styled bookcases are also beautiful, makes a statement, and is artistic.
To fix this hectic eclectic look, start to edit by removing items to create space in between furniture, wall art, and the accessories.

One King’s Lane

No accessories
A room without any accessories is dull, boring, and lifeless. Kinda like a hotel room.

Decorating your space with accessories adds personality and style to your home. Accessories add visual spots of interest and design, and it’s a mistake if there are no accessories. The beauty behind accessories is that it’s not an all or nothing concept. You can display a few things in a room, things that you enjoy having out, and you can rock a minimalist look.

On the flip side, you can creatively decorate with many accessories in every room of your home – this layered look often has your guests looking up and all around to find your hidden treasures and admiring how you artfully decorated your space. It’s pretty easy to fix the no accessory mistake, just start out with one or two items you like and place them in a room. Move the accessory around until you find where you like it best (side table, coffee table, console, bookcase, media stand, etc.), sometimes setting an accessory on a few books adds even more interest. Accessories add warmth, comfort, and personality to a space – have fun with it.


The rule of 3s
By now, Better Homes and Gardens has taught us all that things look better in odd numbers, particularly groups of three. But it’s a mistake if you only follow this rule of thumb. If everything is grouped in 3s it will look weird and boring. This rule of thumb is a great one, don’t get me wrong, but it can be overdone and taken to the extreme. There is also beauty in pairs, and there’s also a powerful decorating rule of thumb which involves creating visual triangles between accessories.

To fix the obsession of only grouping accessories in 3s is easy – remove an item and leave a tall and short item side by side. Don’t undo all your groupings of three items, but look for areas that the grouping can be converted into a triangle. For instance, if you have a grouping of three items at one end of a console, trying moving the medium-height object to the other side for a balanced look. This will leave three items on the console, but creates a larger triangle connection between the objects at each end of the table.


Getting stuck with symmetry
I may be reaching if I say that decorating with everything symmetrical is one of the worst mistakes, but it is a mistake. The same can be said if everything is asymmetrically situated. Hear me out, and then make up your own mind. For fresh and timeless design, it’s best to have a mix of symmetry and asymmetry. Symmetrical designs infuse order and balance into a home. And asymmetry adds flexibility and flow into a home. Both decorating styles add elements to your home that create an inviting and comfortable space.

You can prefer symmetrical design in your home, but if you create just one asymmetrical spot, you will love how it strengthens the entire design of your home – it will add variety and interest. If you’re not sure where you fall in this particular mistake, just take a tour of your home and note how you hang wall art, how you style shelving and tabletops, and arrange furniture. You should be able to spot if a space is totally symmetrical or totally asymmetrical.

If an entire room is totally one way, find a spot to update with the other design method. If asymmetrical design severely bugs you, try removing some of the symmetrical design so that it’s not so heavy. You can also start with something small like having two throw pillows at one end of your sofa and just one pillow at the other end. At the end of the day, what matters most is that it’s your space and you should feel comfortable and peaceful within it regardless of best design practices.


No plants
Have you ever noticed that a room with plants (real or faux) just feels better? Plants add life, texture, comfort, dimension, and color. A room design without plants is one of the worst decorating mistakes. If you don’t have a green thumb or enough light to sustain plants, I encourage you to consider faux plants. There are so many faux options these days, they’re affordable, and the planters can coordinate with so many décor styles. Faux succulents are one of my favorites because their smaller size looks great in small spaces or just to add a spot of color.

Houzz

You may also be interested in: Easy ways to decorate with plants

The worst decorating mistakes and how to fix them – accessories and lighting
804 Sycamore

Awesome accessories for a fresh and timeless style


The worst lighting mistakes

Harsh lighting
It wasn’t that long ago that LED lighting became the standard and everyone ran out and replaced their lights with these ‘forever lights’. And then everyone started talking about hating these blue lights, they were too harsh and driving everyone crazy. Manufacturers listened and created warmer colors of LED lights and various colors for all the various preferences. We sure live in the land of choices, don’t we!

While I’m all for energy saving bulbs that don’t need to be replaced all the time and create more waste, I’m also a fan of warm toned lights for my home. Lighting is a very important part of a space and you want to make sure a space isn’t overly bright, like a surgical room, or too dim. Most of the time, the right bulb can fix this issue.


Not enough light
Most rooms don’t have enough light, at least throughout all the different periods of the day. There is some psychology wrapped up with lighting and while I won’t get into that (because I’m not a psychologist) it’s important to note that a lack of lighting does affect some of us more than others. Dim light can also tire your eyes, so it can be healthier in many ways to invest in a little more lighting – it’s not just for good design.

Designers recommend having at least three lighting sources for ambient and task lighting purposes. If you only have overhead lighting in a room it can feel cold and clinical. By adding some ambient light you will create a much cozier feel to the space. You can layer lighting in the room to make sure there’s adequate lighting throughout the day/night. You’ll want to consider having lights at different heights and at varying intensities. A lot of homeowners have opted for light dimmers and wall sconces to help create a softer cozier feel.


Chandelier size
If a chandelier is too big or too small for a space, it can look off. Be sure to select lighting that is proportionate to the size of the room or table.

This light is too high and small for the table and room. This table would ideally need two of these to properly light the space and work aesthetically.

An easy way to determine the correct diameter to use is to add the length (in feet) and width (in feet) of a the room – this total will be how many inches wide the chandelier should be. If my dining room is 14’ by 20’ (34’), then the diameter of my chandelier should be 34 inches. If the room isn’t easily defined, like in a kitchen nook, you can fit the light for the size of the table. A chandelier should be approximately ½ to 2/3 the width of the table. If my kitchen nook table is four feet long, a chandelier that’s 24”-32” wide will look proportionate to the table.


The Lighting Connection has this awesome info-graphic to help you correctly position lighting all throughout your home.


You can look forward to even more decorating mistakes coming up. In this series I cover; furniture, walls, floors, lighting and accessories, and design planning. Planning out your design not only saves you a headache, but it can usually save you money as well. If the thought of coordinating pieces to create a style, as well as selecting all the pieces to fit your budget stresses you out, you may consider 804 Sycamore E-design.

My clients take a short online design survey, chat on the phone with me, measure their room, snap a few photos of the room, and then sit back while I work on a design. Clients will receive:

  • A final design board (up to 3 rounds of changes are included)
  • A list of items and links to purchase at your convenience
  • A room layout design to set it up like a pro
  • Detailed instructions for all the finishing touches within the space
  • Communication with me throughout the process
The worst decorating mistakes and how to fix them – accessories and lighting
Design Concept Board

E-design is easily the most affordable option to get professional design help. 804 Sycamore specializes in fresh and timeless design to create a welcoming modern farmhouse. If your style is antique Victorian, then I’m probably not the best fit. If you’re signed up to receive my weekly email, you will get the coupon code for $50 off any E-design package.


Decorating mistakes series

Thank you so much for reading the worst decorating mistakes and how to fix them – accessories and lighting! I hope it was helpful and inspiring. We all make mistakes now and then, and we’re all learning – I hope you’re feeling motivated with ideas on some ways to fix your decorating mistake so that you feel confident about your room design and layout.

The worst decorating mistakes and how to fix them – floors

This post is part three of a five-part series to point out the worst decorating mistakes and how to fix them – floors. So far we’ve covered furniture and wall mistakes, and now it’s time to give some attention to the floor.

Keep in mind that I have made most, if not all, of these mistakes at some time or another so don’t feel embarrassed or frustrated – these are common and sometimes understandable mistakes. Most of these decorating mistakes are made because you just didn’t know, you didn’t care, you couldn’t afford to change it, or maybe you liked it regardless of decorating rules-of-thumb.

My hope is that you will be open to considering some of the fixes or at least you’ll know what’s been bugging you about the room and you can fix it if you want, anytime you want to.

The purpose of this post is to help you achieve your decorating goals, layer by layer. Each part in the series is independent from the others. Design is done in layers, you can address your room one layer at a time.

I should also note, that this isn’t an exhaustive list of decorating mistakes, and they’re largely recognized and agreed upon on by the design community – so don’t shoot the messenger. And if you have a decorating dilemma or question, please email me directly or leave me a comment below – maybe your question can help others.


The worst decorating mistakes and how to fix them – floors

The most common mistake people make when choosing a rug for their space is selecting the correct size. If the rug is too small it can be a tripping hazard, look strange, and contributes to the room looking unbalanced. An easy fix is moving the too small rug to a smaller space. Chances are, no rug looks better than one that’s too small.

Source unknown

I totally get it, rugs can be really expensive and sometimes the next size up costs a fortune compared to the smaller sizes. In a world where your budget has no limits, ideally, all legs of your furniture should be on the area rug. But if you’re like me and that isn’t possible, select a rug large enough to have the front legs of most of the furniture placed on top of the rug, or for a modern look consider layering rugs. This info graphic illustrates what size to use in living areas and bedrooms (green rug pics) and what not to do (red rug pics).


In design, rugs are used to join colors and patterns used in the other furnishings, art, and accessories in the room. That doesn’t mean a rug can’t make statement, but it shouldn’t compete against the style in the room. Make sure the colors and pattern of your rug compliment and join the entirety of the space instead of looking like it belongs in a different space completely.

This post contains affiliate links – I may receive a small commission if you shop these items. Thanks for your consideration.


Mixing patterns is fun, so when you add a patterned rug to your space, note the size of the pattern in comparison to the pattern sizes of other pieces like curtains, pillows, art, and furnishings. If the room is full of tiny patterns, consider a rug with a larger pattern and complimentary colors. If the room is full of larger or neutral patterns, consider a rug with a smaller pattern. Balancing pattern size, style, and colors can be tricky, but can also create a gorgeous room.

The worst decorating mistakes and how to fix them - floors
804 Sycamore

Messy tangled cords

My husband is a tech guy and his desk has four large monitors. Yes, I said four! It looks like a scene from the Matrix, but it’s necessary for the work he does. Now, you know what kind of mess can come from one monitor and a PC, but can you imagine four monitors and a monstrous PC that weighs over 100 lbs.? It’s a beast, both the PC and mess of cords.

Luckily, there are so many solutions (especially on Amazon) to contain, organize, sort, and hide electronic cords. A mess of tangled cords isn’t just bad for the design in your room, but there will come a time when that mess gets in your way or collects huge dust bunnies and you’ll wish you would have sorted it out from the start. And for all those TVs mounted on the wall, you can hide those cords as well with cord covers.


Flooring makeover ideas & inspiration

Rug size and messy cords are the two main and worst decorating mistakes for the floor. Don’t forget to have fun when selecting a rug, just make sure that when you spend the money for a new rug, that you select a size that fits the room and has colors and a pattern to complete your overall design. Now, check out these inspirational DIY floor makeovers.

Noting Grace installed wood plank looking luxury vinyl in their moisture-dense basement. Doesn’t it look like real wood? It looks so beautiful and her blog explains how they did it.
Life on Virginia Street used luxury vinyl that looks like real tile in her rental home renovation. Such an affordable and beautiful flooring solution!
Cedar Lane Farmhouse shows us how to add thin-brick flooring to her laundry and powder room. Brick is so charming and achievable with this thin style.
Iron Orchid Designs shows us how to stamp this gorgeous mosaic print onto plain white floor tiles. These stamps work on tile back splash too!
Lolly Jane shows us how to stencil a concrete front porch. What a charming welcome!
Liz Marie and Jose show us how to paint this gorgeous checkered design on their wood plank floors. What a beautiful large neutral pattern.
Halstrom Home finds success using awesome chalk paint on this wood floor. It’s so quaint!
1915 House paints gorgeous gray stripes over hideous linoleum. She gives detailed instructions for this amazing transformation.

804 Sycamore E-design

You can look forward to even more decorating mistakes coming up. In this series I cover; furniture, walls, floors, lighting and accessories, and design planning. Planning out your design not only saves you a headache, but it can usually save you money as well. If the thought of coordinating pieces to create a style, as well as selecting all the pieces to fit your budget stresses you out, you may consider 804 Sycamore E-design.

My clients take a short online design survey, chat on the phone with me, measure their room, snap a few photos of the room, and then sit back while I work on a design. Clients will receive:

  • A final design board (up to 3 rounds of changes are included)
  • A list of items and links to purchase at your convenience
  • A room layout design to set it up like a pro
  • Detailed instructions for all the finishing touches within the space
  • Communication with me throughout the process

E-design is easily the most affordable option to get professional design help. 804 Sycamore specializes in fresh and timeless design to create a welcoming modern farmhouse. If your style is antique Victorian, then I’m probably not the best fit. If you’re signed up to receive my weekly email, you will get the coupon code for $100 off any E-design package.


Decorating mistakes series

Thank you so much for reading part three of the worst decorating mistakes series! I hope it was helpful and inspiring. We all make mistakes now and then, and we’re all learning – I hope you’re energized with some ways to fix your decorating mistake so that you feel confident about your room design and layout.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is blog-sig-1024x256.png

The worst decorating mistakes and how to fix them

Furniture mistakes

This post is part one of a five-part series to describe the worst decorating mistakes and how to fix them. All of my references will refer to living/family rooms. Some of these mistakes apply to other rooms, but I’m going to focus on the main living space in the home since we spend a lot of our active time there.

There are several photos in this post by Studio McGee. Their room design, furnishings, and style are shown here for inspiration and as an example of what to do~ Don’t worry, I also found some photos of living rooms to show several furniture mistakes.

I should also share (confess) that I have made most, if not all, of these mistakes at some time or another so don’t feel embarassed or frustrated – these are common and sometimes understandable mistakes. Most of these decorating mistakes are made because you just didn’t know, you didn’t care, you couldn’t afford to change it, or maybe you liked it regardless of decorating rules-of-thumb.

My hope is that after reading this post, if you identify with any of the worst decorating mistakes that you will be open to considering some of the fixes or at least walk away understanding why you can’t get your room to look or feel a certain way (maybe it’s the huge sofa getting in your way, literally~).

The worst decorating mistakes and how to fix them

The purpose of this post is to help you achieve your decorating goals, layer by layer. I would suggest sitting in your living/family room while you read this and just note what you have going on in the room. I would even encourage you to address an issue you want changed, like right now, and try doing one of the possible fixes. There’s no need to read all five parts of this series before taking action. Each part is independent from the others and since design is done in layers, you would address one layer at a time anyway.

I should also note, that this isn’t an exhaustive list of decorating mistakes, but they are what I believe are the worst decorating mistakes and can also be easily be fixed. These common decorating mistakes aren’t just my opinion, they’re largely recognized and agreed upon on by the design community – so please don’t shoot the messenger. If you have a decorating dilemma or question, please email me directly or leave me a comment below – maybe your question can help others. And if you believe that I left out any of the worst furniture decorating mistakes in this post, please leave a comment as well.


Part 1: Furniture mistakes

Your room may feel bigger with all the furniture pushed up against the walls, but if you have to raise your voice to be heard by others sitting in the room or it’s difficult to see the TV, this furniture layout may not be functioning at its full potential. If you have a small room or odd-shaped room, you may feel that placing furniture along the walls is the only way to make the room feel bigger, but if you just ‘float’ one piece of furniture it will define the space, create a cozy and comfortable feel, and it doesn’t have to take up a lot of space. You can also ‘float’ a couch or loveseat by placing a narrow console table behind it. Or you can quickly ‘float’ an accent chair or recliner to fix this mistake and create a conversational space.

If you have most of the furniture placed on one side of the room (maybe all facing the TV) it can look and feel unbalanced. To achieve a balanced look, you don’t have to have all furnishings arranged in a symmetrical way, but just bring out one piece like a loveseat or chair to create an ‘L’ shape and you will define and balance the space so much better.

Oversized pieces can quickly overtake a space, and make it feel heavy. Sometimes overstuffed couches have deep seats which are also hard on the lower back, be sure to consider smaller pieces that fit your body and provide support. Large pieces can often only go in one spot in a room, but a smaller version can be flexible enough to fit in multiple places. This gives you flexibility when planning your furniture arrangement. A good sofa is key to comfort, but it’s also central to how a room feels and looks.

In a small or odd-shaped room, less is more. Too much furniture makes a room feel cluttered and small. With the right pieces and layout, you can retain enough seating for all. Consider if you actually need every piece; what’s its purpose, should the piece live in a different room, or be stored elsewhere until needed. To fix this issue, determine if any of your pieces can be multi-purposed so that you can reduce pieces that aren’t necessary. For instance, adding a console table behind a couch can display lamps and hold drinks so that you can remove the coffee table or side tables. In a small space, determine what pieces you use the most and try to scale back on the rest.

A room with ugly or plain furniture backsides is not a great first impression. But I applaud you for floating your furniture! However, if the first thing you see when you walk into a room is the ugly or plain back on a piece of furniture, rethink your furniture arrangement. Situate a chair with a bad back into a corner. Or place a console, narrow desk, or short bookcase against the piece to hide the back side of a sofa.

Studio McGee added a console to add more interest, texture, and design behind a plain sofa.

Your main seating piece (usually a sofa or sectional) should have a focal point, whether it’s a TV, a window, a fireplace, or even an archway or opening into another room. As you can guess, arranging furniture around a fireplace or TV are the most popular and common options. If your sofa has to face a blank wall, consider what you want on the blank wall to create your own focal point. It could be a bookcase, floating shelves, a desk, or even a gallery wall. For extra interest, place a console table below your gallery wall.

All the seating is matching and there’s no coordination. Selecting a matching set from a showroom is an easy way to select furniture, but when it’s all the same it’s not interesting, can appear too heavy, may look outdated sooner, and doesn’t show off your style or personality. You can make a matching set look good, but it won’t give you the benefit of additional color, texture, and style that you can get with a collective approach. Determine your style and the purpose of the room (conversation, entertainment, study) and select coordinating pieces that define your personal style.

The space doesn’t mix furniture styles and time periods. Oftentimes people feel stuck and limited by the architecture of their home and end up selecting furniture based on the home’s architecture and time period. You can mix furniture styles with the style of architecture to create a new eclectic cohesive style. For instance, you can merge contemporary furniture with traditional crown molding, vintage rugs, rattan/cane benches, and modern art. When you mix styles and coordinate your seating selections, the living room feels timeless and comfortable. When mixing furniture styles, pay attention to the height of each piece and keep them all similar heights.

My list of the worst decorating mistakes and how to fix them regarding furniture provides you some guidelines to consider as you redecorate or even invest in purchasing new pieces for your home. I love moving things around my home and mixing styles to create a style for my family to enjoy and function for our lifestyle, but it doesn’t happen overnight. It can take months or years for me to find the right piece or to afford the right piece – so be patient and pick something that you’ll enjoy long-term. Buying furniture, the core pieces in a living room, shouldn’t be an impulse – save those impulsive purchases for things like accessories and seasonal décor.

You may also like:
Easy ways to decorate with plants

Studio McGee

You can look forward to even more decorating mistakes coming up. In this series I will also cover walls, floors, lighting and accessories, and design planning. Planning out your design can not only save you a headache, but it can usually save you money as well. If you struggle with planning the overall design, the big picture, as well as selecting all the pieces to fit your budget, you may consider 804 Sycamore E-design.

My clients take a short online design survey, chat on the phone with me, measure their room, snap a few photos of the room, and then sit back while I work on a design. Clients will receive a final design board with a list of product links to purchase at your convenience, a room layout design, detailed instructions to put all the finishing touches on the room, and communication with me as questions come up or to request a different option for the design (up to 3 design board changes are included).

E-design is easily the most affordable option to get professional design help. If your style is antique Victorian, then I’m probably not the best fit. 804 Sycamore specializes in fresh and timeless design to create a welcoming modern farmhouse. If you’re signed up to receive my weekly email, you will get the coupon code for $100 off any E-design package.


Thanks so much for checking out this post. I hope it was helpful and encouraging. We all make mistakes now and then, and we’re all learning – I hope you’re energized with some ways to fix any decorating mistake so that you feel confident about your room design and layout.


Decorating mistakes series