Standing Up To The Challenge: 8 Most Catastrophic Interior Design Mistakes You Can Make

You planned and shopped, you gathered the budget dollars, but somehow your room looks, well, just wrong. It looked so much better in your imagination. You’re sure your decorating decisions were sound, but it’s obvious you’ve made an error somewhere, maybe a few of them. If you can’t figure out what you could have done better, perhaps one of these common catastrophic mistakes will ring a bell.

Matchy-Matchy Color Schemes

This is a common problem in interior design. For some reason, it occurs most often when the dominant color scheme is based on shades of brown or beige. The carpet may be the color of light toast, the upholstery is an unassuming beige, pillows are perhaps an earthy brown and the drapery may be off-white. None of the colors clash; they all seem to go together, but it’s boring. Boring is not a good look for your room. What to do?

There are excellent options that won’t force you to replace high-dollar items. Use more colorful decorating touches in your room with pillows, small rugs, candles, picture frames, or even one of art’s best metal prints.

Too Much Furniture, Too Little Room

It’s easy to overestimate the actual size of a room if you’re just considering the square footage. To make sure that you’ve taken into consideration all the important features of your room, make a list of what other factors are important. Window placements, fireplaces, doorways and closets all take floor space away from furniture and furnishings.

Hanging Artwork at the Same Height

If you carefully mark the wall to hang your photos, artwork, or paintings at the same height, that would be a common mistake. Hanging artwork too high is another. Your wall’s décor should be bright and interesting and complement the room’s design.


People naturally look at wall art straight ahead at eye level, not up or down. Don’t make your family or visitors strain their necks. Within this range, however, you need to vary heights. If you consider your wall as a landscape, some art will be trees, some hills, and some valleys. Lightly mark the wall where you’ve planned to hang each item. Now, step back and see if all are in your range of sight without moving your head up or down. That should do it.

Using Dark Furniture in a Small Room

Dark furniture, whether its wood or upholstery, instantly makes a room appear smaller and crowded. That’s fine if you have a large room and want to make it a bit cosier. In a small apartment, however, it can make the furniture overwhelming. Light colors expand perceived space; dark colors seem to contract it.

For small rooms, use colors that reflect, not absorb, light. You can use light-colored woods to great effect, particularly if the wooden portion of the furniture is smaller. Massive slabs of wood might appeal to your taste, but it’s better to choose something else. You don’t want your dining room table to look like it’s so large that it’s about to fall through the floor from its weight.

Choosing the Wrong Rug Size

Perhaps the fault lies with the words accent rug. For whatever reason, many people choose the wrong size when selecting a rug for their living rooms. What ought to be a visual focal point in the floor space often becomes a distraction instead. Most average sized rooms need an 8 x 10-foot rug. Both larger and smaller sizes are usually wrong. The size should be large enough to fit two chairs and the front legs of a couch.

Smaller rugs and runners are more suited to bedrooms, hallways, or bathrooms. Be aware that these smaller rugs can easily trip someone. If you have people in your family who are older, ill or just learning to walk, small rugs can be a danger.

Following Trendy Décor

If you buy what the new ‘in’ thing but not what you love, you probably won’t be happy with the result. Your home should reflect you, your tastes and what you love, not some person’s you don’t even know. You will live with these decisions for years, day in and day out. Make sure that you and your family can relax, enjoy and be proud to share with visitors. If you think you might like to try a new fad, buy just one piece and see how well it sits with you before you splurge on an entirely new room.

Catastrophic Interior Design

Lighting from Above

Overhead lighting is nearly always harsh and unflattering. A ceiling light alone will often create shadows where you don’t want them. Layer your lighting. The overhead fixture shouldn’t be too bright. Use table lamps and perhaps floor lamps to give even lighting up and down the vertical space in the room. Always choose soft bulbs, not bright white or fluorescent bulbs.

Neglecting Investment Pieces

Instead of thirteen pieces of small ceramic or wooden décor pieces, think about investing in one larger and more important piece that stands out. The art should make a statement and attract the attention of anyone in the room. Take your time choosing the piece considering how the color, shape, and size of the work complements rather than distracts from the room. Color is important. For instance, if the room is smaller, perhaps a nice glass etagere bookshelf to hold not only books but art pieces would be perfect.

At the end of the day, your home should be your reflection. Your family needs to be comfortable, finding the house a refuge from the office or school. The first thing you should do when you enter your home is to smile. If cartoons make you happy, invest in some catchy graphic art. If your family loves to hike and camp, greenery used tastefully will extend the vacation a little longer. The only absolute rule in interior decorating is always choosing beauty and comfort.