Here are 6 common mistakes new decorators make. Are you guilty of making one of these mistakes in your home? Don’t worry, I’m also sharing how to fix it.
6 Common Mistakes New Decorators Make
We’ll start with some of the common mistakes I see and end with the biggest and most common mistake at the end of this post. You won’t want to miss this.
Mistake #1: New decorators install curtain rods too close to the window or fail to leave room for stacking
One of my most popular posts was the one I wrote about how to choose the colour of your drapery rods, and this one covers how to measure for a curtain rod, so if you are buying curtains (and not having a professional decorator choose and install them for you) make sure you read these posts.
I particularly loved the way this decorator installed the drapes in this breakfast room (above). You can see that there wasn’t enough room on the left side of the french doors to install much drapery so she continued the track around the corner and lined it up with the drapery on the right side.
These drapes don’t close, as you can see the track is hidden inside the drapery making them purely decorative and simply gorgeous.
Mistake #2: New decorators install too much hardware on bathroom or kitchen cabinets
I see this mistake ALL THE TIME. Less is more, especially when it comes to hardware on your cabinetry.
When you’ll really notice that there’s too much hardware on your cabinetry is if you go with a high contrast like these black ones in this kitchen of one of my clients (below):
I chose 1″ knobs (not 1.5 or 1 7/16), and one handle on the drawers instead of two smaller handles. Looks cleaner and less busy.
One handle on the drawers is just right, instead of too much. As I’ve said many times, here and here, black has a tipping point. And, once you’ve hit it, the room can look too busy or too harsh and masculine, really fast.
I also chose 1″ glass knobs for Crystal’s master bathroom vanity along with little 4″ pulls on the middle drawers. However, even they could have been knobs just like the two drawers above them.
As I said in this post above, if you are on a budget, choose KNOBS over pulls, it looks way better than an entire kitchen full of 4″ pulls on all the drawers and doors.
I once walked into a kitchen and the ONLY thing I noticed was the over abundance of 6″ twisty pulls on all the doors and two on each drawer. Hardware adds up fast, so if you do this by yourself and end up with too many, not only are you unhappy with the way it looks (you can’t take them out once they are drilled into your cabinets) but now you’ve spent too much money as well. Let me help save you from this mistake!
Mistake #3: New Decorators Buy a Matching Set of Coffee Tables, Dining Room or Bedroom Furniture
They key word here is COORDINATE, not match.
A matching dining room set is often WAY MORE EXPENSIVE, than simply coordinating a dining room table, chairs and sideboard, like this photo (above). If you hire a designer to even just help you choose the coordinating furniture you will still be left with money to spend on other items like art and accessories.
Interior Design by Andrew Kotchen and Matthew Berman
Or you could paint the chairs (below). I’ve shown a traditional set here because a lot of you have very traditional ‘matching’ dining sets with china cabinets that you are afraid to paint.
It’s never going to look “coordinated” if you leave it all the same colour. So why not consider painting either the chairs and/or the matching sideboard?
If you already have a matching set of bedroom furniture, paint the bedside tables to mix it up and make it look more interesting. It could look more like this bedroom with a blue bed and a coordinating cream bedside table (below).
Mistake #4: New decorators don’t know how to create and style vignettes
I asked a few people around me on some common mistakes new decorators make and this was what my sister Elizabeth said: “They have no idea how to style and arrange little vignettes with books.”
Here’s my family room mantel which has been rearranged countless times:
Styling by Maria Killam, see the full post here
Styling instantly gives your home atmosphere and makes everyone want to hang out a little longer.
Okay and here’s the next one Elizabeth added to the list:
Mistake #5: New decorators paint everything white because they don’t know which neutral or colour to choose
If you had to guess, what colour would you say this wall in my family room is (below)?
Interior Design by Maria Killam
It’s Cloverdale Rice Paper, which is a greige. It’s not a true white or even an off-white, which are both in the realm of art gallery white – a white that is often too stark and bright for most interiors.
Scroll back and look again, and compare it to the white vase sitting on the console. That is what I would consider to be art gallery white.
There’s a lot of confusion about greige in the world of interior design.
Since grey is either Green Grey, Blue Grey or Violet Grey (below), there are a lot of designers calling any grey that’s in the realm of Green Grey, a GREIGE. They are labeling greige whether it’s dark or light, because it appears as a warm grey, or because at times it appears to look like grey and beige TOGETHER.
They call it greige because it’s not as OBVIOUSLY grey as a blue grey.
And there’s nothing wrong with that, however, in my system, when I talk about or specify GREIGE, it’s in the pale and light category.
Greige in my System for Specifying Colour™ is PALE. And since all colours go twice as bright INSIDE and four times as bright OUTSIDE, greige will generally read “white” on walls. You have to consider this detail before you freak out that the colour you have chosen will be too dark.
Here’s a video on the greige colour in my living room – with my insider trick for testing greige paint colour.
Because everyone is looking for light, bright and white right now, they are worried that the range of complex and versatile (aka almost white colours that I call greige) are going to somehow look too beige or like a trendy gray on their walls.
And when they’re testing them on true white paper, they appear comparatively darker and warmer than they will look when they are painted wall to wall. So they panic and grab some too stark white or off white to paint their walls instead.
And this is because everyone is chasing that blown out bright and white look they see everywhere in magazines and on Pinterest. Your home does not have a photoshop filter.
But I’m here to tell you that whiter paint does not make a pretty room. STYLING is what makes a pretty room and not every house is cut out to be WHITE. In most houses, some kind of super pale greige is a much softer and more versatile choice for a fresh and current look.
Okay and here’s the BIGGEST mistake that new decorators make:
Mistake #6: New decorators calmly announce to their spouse that the lamp, sofa, chair… “insert missing item here” simply does not exist!
Because they’ve scoured the internet for it.
I promise you, it does exist, you just don’t know what to look for and that’s why you (or your spouse) have declared that it just doesn’t exist.
Or, perhaps it does exist, but not for the price you’re willing to pay for it.
So, if there’s something missing in your home because you have not found it yet, can I gently and with love, suggest that the reason you haven’t found it is because you’re not a professional decorator? 😬
Professional decorators and designers know the search terms. We know what the name of that elusive chair is or what colour of accent chair works with your decor… and we can find it for you.
When you don’t even know the name of that mid century modern upholstered chair you need or even worse, you don’t really know what it should look like? It’s pretty hard to find. Let a decorator help you.
Okay, so that’s my list of mistakes I see new decorators make all of the time. I know there’s a lot more. You are welcome to post more new decorator mistakes in the comments! I’d love to hear your thoughts.
I’m excited, my SOLD OUT Vancouver event starts Wednesday! There’s still seats left in Dallas, Charleston and my second Vancouver course this Fall, register here.