Design 101: Decorating Don’ts, and How to Fix Them

So now that you’ve read the first installment of this Design 101 series, are you ready to talk about some decorating no no’s? We have all made these mistakes, and I am sure many more are still to come in our decorating journey.

But for now, here are some "dont's" we've learned to avoid when decorating a space in our home,  and easy fixes for every one of them.

1. Don’t: Cover your bed or couch with too many throw pillows: Yes, there is such a thing, and I’ve fallen in the trap myself. It’s actually quite a fine line, and one pillow can push you to the other side from elegant, into vulgar territory. 

The fix: Go with the fool-proof formula of two Europeans, two standards, and one small accent pillow, or mix those around. It is much more practical and easy to deal with. And, it's trying less hard.

2. Don’t: Apply too many crazy paint jobs to your walls and furniture. It’s fun to paint and it gets kind of addictive, but your home can begin to look like a circus canvas if you are not careful! 

The fix: Fight the urge to paint-treat and spray-paint everything in your path (put DOWN the can) and stick to just one wall, or one item. Do one accent piece per room, and do a max of one to two paint treatments throughout the home, keeping the rest simple. 

3. Don’t: Display all of your vintage/thrift shop finds. It’s easy to get carried away when styling  and to want to squeeze one more trinket on that shelf so people can appreciate ALL of your unique finds. Unfortunately, the result is often cluttered, messy, and anxiety-provoking to the eye. 

The fix: Pick a few special ones and store the rest. Use this as an opportunity to showcase pieces you love, and let them have all the attention for a period of time. When you get tired of them, put them back in storage and bring out another collection to display. Bonus, you get to refresh your home throughout the year and keep the clutter away.

4. Don’t: Karate chop your throw pillows. This is the one I feel strongest about. Why? Because it's about much more than the poor karate-chopped pillows. It screams "don't sit here, a designer was here" and "It's for looking, not touching." And design is supposed to be functional! It used to be a popular styling tactic, but now it's gotten too drastic. So please just don't!

The fix: Let them look a little lived in! Because people know you actually live in your home and use your stuff. In the more recent years, the “lived-in” look has much more of a voice in the design world, and evokes much more emotion from the guest or viewer. Fluff your pillows once in a while and let them be pillows, not pointy sculptures. 

5. Don’t: Cover every surface with framed photos. For the love friends, let's not do this. We all love to display great photos of people we love, but going too overboard actually cheapens the photos and makes it look tacky (and again that clutter!).

The fix: Create a beautiful wall collage and incorporate some other items you love, so your guests can browse your vacation and family photos in a much more pleasant way. 

6. Don’t: Follow trends. It seems that over time, everyone’s homes begins to look the same. It’s great that home decorators inspire other decorators, but make sure to not fall into the trap of shopping at the same stores, and only developing an eye for the same styles.

The fix: Create your own style, infusing it with things you personally love. Just because Suzy has a burlap pillow, doesn’t mean you also love a burlap pillow. Forget the comparison game, and make your own genre if you have to. 


7. Don’t: Display fake flowers everywhere. Fake blooms are sometimes okay (for example for holiday decoration and tablescapes), but using them all over the is a trap for dust, and doesn’t do anything for the home except make it look like an unpopular corner of Hobby Lobby. 

The fix: If you don’t want to spend a ton of money on flowers each week, use cheap greenery and add to it with colorful fruit like lemons, apples, and oranges. Using fruits adds texture and color to your centerpieces, and freshens up any space.

I hope you've enjoyed this series so far, and please share with us below: What's your design pet peeve?