The worst decorating mistakes and how to fix them – planning

Well, we finally made it to part 5, the final part of the worst decorating mistakes and how to fix them – planning, series. I have saved this part for last, but it’s the first part of the process when you design or update a room. So far, we’ve covered furniture, walls, floors, and accessories and lighting. I hope these decorating posts have encouraged you and have helped you to identify how you can make some simple changes to create a space you love living in. As always, if you have a design question, please contact me. I love helping and want to be a resource for you.

The worst decorating mistakes and how to fix them – planning
Create a design board to see everything together ahead of time.

Designing Without A Plan
If your goal is to have a beautifully decorated home, a home that’s a reflection of your family and how you live, and you have a tight budget – then decorating without a plan is the worst mistake you can make. Designing your home without a plan is a sure way to end up with things that you don’t want or need and spending more money that you could spend elsewhere. The most obvious fix is to enlist a decorator to help you formulate a plan and make decisions, but if you enjoy planning and thinking out your room design, you’ll want to take just a few steps to plan out your room.

The worst decorating mistakes and how to fix them – planning

1. Determine your style
Pinterest is a great tool to quickly search and pin rooms and décor that you love. Once you have all your pins in one place (I recommend creating a board for each room), you’ll want to identify what all the pins have in common. For instance, you may notice that all the pins have green accents, baskets, neutral rugs, bright curtains, and lots of plants. Unless your plan is to copy another room exactly, finding the key elements that you want in a room will get you on the right track to creating a room you love.

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2. Keep some of your old stuff
Even if you have a budget to start from scratch, it actually looks better to incorporate some older pieces into your design. This will help you to not have a staged look, it gives the room personality, and hopefully you’ve incorporated your favorite most sentimental pieces to keep around and enjoy.

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

3. Shift your thinking
If you have a limited budget, it can be very tempting to buy budget furnishings and get everything for the whole room. However, if you can be patient, you will love and appreciate your room design so much more by investing in furniture that is timeless and will last much longer than a budget piece.

My great grandmother reupholstered her sofas (from avocado to brown), and as a child I remember wondering why she didn’t just get new sofas. She was the poster-child for recycling and it was no different with her furniture. She did have great mid-century sofas with clean lines and quality frames that probably cost a lot in their time. So it makes sense to me now why she just changed the fabric. When you buy a quality piece of furniture that will stand the test of time, you will actually save money in the long run, you’ll truly enjoy the piece, and you’ll feel good about not getting rid of another cheap piece.

4. Create a neutral base
Now that you’ve determined your style, you know what you’re keeping in the room, and you’re ready to invest in some quality pieces. This next step may be difficult for you, especially if you love bright and bold, but hear me out. If you’re going to spend the money on quality furniture, consider how neutral fabric will be timeless over say a bold red sofa. By selecting beige, gray, linen, or natural colored furniture, you are creating a neutral base that will work with any style, accessory, or color changes you make in the future. It’s much more affordable to change out pillows, lamps, curtains, etc. when you want a refresh.

The worst decorating mistakes and how to fix them – planning

5. Accessories create style
You can have timeless furniture, a strong neutral base, and still have a defined style like, farmhouse, industrial, mid-century modern, or boho. Your style can come out through accessories, window treatments, rugs, and accent pieces.

To avoid buying things just because they fit the definition of your style, consider finding pieces that fit these categories within your style instead: texture, mix patterns, natural wood, personal items, touch of black, mixed finishes, and greenery. Finding items in all these categories will help you to avoid an overdone space or a space that looks like a showroom and not you.

The worst decorating mistakes and how to fix them – planning
Vintage farmhouse style

6. Shopping
The shopping step can be your favorite part or your worst nightmare. Some people don’t like making these decisions so they don’t make any decisions. However, if you plan on creating a neutral base, this should help you make some decisions. I recommend shopping online first. Gather all your links to items you think you want and save the images for all of them. You’ll want to put all the images together (use a Word doc, Canva, or PicMonkey) and see how all your items look together. This should help you to quickly determine if something doesn’t work with the look and feel you’re after. Shopping online first is a must, don’t skip this step. And whether you end up buying items in-person or online, don’t purchase everything from one store. A curated look doesn’t come from one place, so be open to collecting pieces over time and from different sources — especially if you can’t find just what you’re looking for (artwork is a common element that takes more time to narrow down).

7. Decorate
Think about the room like a cake. A delicious cake has the same basic ingredients, every time. The cake is your furnishings and sometimes a rug too. Once your room is furnished and set up for your lifestyle (traffic flow, storage, functional needs, etc.), it’s time for the frosting. Your room, like a cake, should only get better with frosting, aka the accessories, wall art, and window treatments. After your furniture is arranged, take on windows, then walls, and finally accessories.

Design is done in layers – first you’ll put all the pieces together in a document to make sure it looks good together – then you implement design principles for each layer, one at a time. Once you’re done, sit back and admire your handy work. You did it, and the goal is to love the rooms you live in, so be open to making little changes over time or tweaking things that aren’t working how you want them to now.


You may be interested in the other worst decorating mistakes and how to fix them:


e-Design Services

If all these planning steps still seem overwhelming or you just don’t want to do them yourself, 804 Sycamore offers affordable e-design services. Your chore is my passion, and my goal is to create a room you and your family will love living in.

My clients will 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 up the room like a pro
  • Detailed instructions for all the finishing touches within the space
  • Communication with me throughout the process and afterwards
The worst decorating mistakes and how to fix them – planning

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.


Define the space
It may seem silly, but take just a minute to define the space. Not every space will be used for the traditional purpose. When a large open space isn’t defined, furniture is often pushed up against walls, clutter is formed, and the entire room can feel chaotic. If you define the purpose of the space, you will bring order by establishing areas for different activities: a seating arrangement for conversations and TV-watching, and a work area with a desk or table for homework, paperwork, and art projects, or a drop-zone for charging phones and storing keys. Set up your space according to your needs, and plan out the room to accommodate your needs in the space.


Clear traffic pattern
It’s a mistake to arrange furniture without planning out a traffic pattern. This may seem obvious to you, but it’s a common planning mistake. Take the time to define with your furniture arrangement how people enter, exit, and navigate the room. For living rooms, make sure people can easily get in and out of the seating area without having to awkwardly squeeze around a side table or sofa. If your room has several entries and exits, plan a clear path between these points, and think about how to arrange living room furniture to make the most of your space without the furnishings getting in the way.


Decorating around something you hate
If you don’t like a piece, or even hate it, just sell it or donate it. You know the saying, one person’s trash… If you sell it, you can use the money towards buying something you love. Chances are that if you hate a particular piece, it’s going to mess up your entire room design to the point that you won’t ever truly love your space because of this one piece. Don’t decorate around something you hate, move it to another room if you have to, but don’t underestimate the power of this piece to ruin the entire design of the room you’re trying to create.


Not decluttering before redecorating
I you haven’t decluttered and inventoried your space for a while, this is a mistake. And there’s even a strong chance that by simply decluttering the room, you could love it without spending a dime. I really believe that by removing everything from a cabinet, shelving, hutch, media console, wall, coffee table, etc. and redecorating it with fewer items, you can find a new love for the space. You don’t have to sell or donate whatever is left over, but if you want to keep it, store it in a clear bin so that you can see inside and actually use it later on to refresh your space. Decluttering isn’t just great for design, it’s great for the soul.

Photo credit unknown

Ignoring the needs of your family
If you have children, pets, or live with someone with physical limitations and you don’t consider these factors in your design, you’re making a big planning mistake. The room can only work if it works for the family living in it. Years ago, my husband broke his ankle and shin bone playing soccer, and to this day, his foot can’t dangle off the end of a recliner without causing pain for several days. So, we have to either sit in the piece of furniture before we buy it or we need to make sure the measurements will work for him.

This gorgeous living room design is by Kinsey Walsh.
The glass coffee table may not work if you have toddlers in the home, but isn’t it stunning?!

If the family can’t enjoy or use the beautiful piece of furniture, what’s the point? If you have little ones toddling everywhere, you’ll need to rethink your modern glass-top end tables or pointy decorative accessories – even if it’s just for a time. Think carefully about who is using the space, how they use it, and what’s most important to truly enjoy the space. I did not display my favorite tasseled and embroidered throw pillows while my girls were little. They drooled and sometimes had boogies and sticky fingers – so I saved myself the grief and temporarily stored them.


Well, that’s a wrap! Thank you so much for reading the worst decorating mistakes and how to fix them – planning! I sincerely hope you feel armed with where to start, know what to consider for each layer, and you have the steps towards decorating a room you love living in. 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 entire home.

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