10 decor don’ts…
achieving that professional look

If you’ve ever looked around your home and wondered what’s missing, or why your place lacks the punch of the designer homes you see, this is the post for you. Everyone has their own level of DIY ability—some are masters at transforming flea market finds into designer-worthy treasures. Others need the help of a professional to match colors. No matter where you are on that spectrum, fixing these common décor missteps will bring a fresh, and professional-looking, new look to your space.

  1. Inexpensive, solid-form, small-scale accent pillows.
    Your pillows should be generous, cushy, and filled with something a little more malleable, like kapok, feathers, or recycled polyfill.
  2. Skimping on paint.
    Paint can make or break a room. Select a low- or no-VOC paint option and make sure it’s well pigmented, and you buy enough for good coverage. If you’re less than certain on your color matching skills, consider bringing in a pro to pick the color, or using a color-matching service to exactly match your fabric or favorite color.
  3. Sacrificing good lighting.
    Lighting should be layered. Use task lighting for where you need it, and mood or ambient lighting throughout. And make sure your fixtures are scaled to the room. Think of good lighting like the jewelry that sets off an outfit.
  4. Pushing furniture against the walls.
    Except in the smallest of small spaces, you’ll have a better result if you bring your furniture away from the walls a bit and allow the furniture to float in the room.
  5. A too small area rug.
    An area rug defines your space, or a grouping of furniture. Too small, and the room will feel off balance. If your favorite rug is smaller than you need, layer it with other rugs for greater impact.
  6. Isolating your rooms.
    A room is not an island. Create a sense of flow from one space to the next by visually linking rooms. Carry over a pattern or accent color, bring in the same leg detail, do something to make the rooms feel like two parts of the same whole.
  7. Forgetting the window treatments.
    Sometimes the right window treatment is no window treatment. But unless you have an amazing view and no privacy concerns, draperies are a given. This is a case of more is more—to get a full look, your fabric should be at least two and a half to three times the width of your window (if you’re going to close them). Don’t skimp.
  8. Everything matches… perfectly.
    The ideal look is coordinated, not identical. Look for a common theme—color, style, motif, material… whatever you can find to tie pieces together. Going for the same print on your drapes, accent pillows, and wallpaper border is not only dated, it’s a recipe for impersonal décor.
  9. Forgetting the little things.
    Details make the design. Handcrafted items with character stand out. Contrasting accents on a pillow make colors pop. Details make the end results look special.
  10. Forgetting to layer.
    Don’t stop when you’ve got the basics in place. Keep going, layering and repeating elements and motifs to create a finished look. Even sleek, modern design includes layering—there’s just less of everything. Toss in something unexpected to add personality and avoid the overly matched look.
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