If you know me at all, you know that I typically like to keep things positive. However, I’ve spent enough time either making these same mistakes myself, or observing other people making these mistakes in their homes. Since they seem to show up over and over, I figured it would be beneficial to compile them into one post to hopefully help you to avoid these very common pitfalls.
1. Area Rug is Too Small – Although I go into this in much more detail here, a general rule of thumb is to map the area in which your furniture will sit, and select a rug that will allow for at least the front legs of every furniture piece to sit on the rug. The only exception to this is in a dining room when you really want to avoid tippy chairs. In this case, be sure that all chair legs will comfortably sit on the rug when they’re pulled away from the table.
2. Lighting is All Wrong – In an ideal situation, you want to consider ambient lighting (general lighting via an overhead fixture), task lighting, and mood lighting. To calculate the appropriate size overhead fixture you need for ambient lighting, add the room width and the room length, and convert that number to inches (ex. 12′ x 12′ room = 12 + 12 = a 24″ wide fixture). If hanging an overhead light over a piece such as a dining room table, for example, be sure that it lands between 30″ and 34″ inches above the table. In terms of size, the fixture should be 2/3 to 3/4 the width of your table. Do not forget about task lighting for specific room activities, and mood lighting as well! Task lights should hit at eye level, ideally. Dimmers are your friends and should be included in every room!
3. Art is Not Appropriately Situated on the Wall – The most common mistake that I see is that art is hung way too high. Per gallery recommendation, the center of your art should land at 60″ from the floor. In rooms with higher ceilings than standard 8 feet, you can probably can get away with the center landing at 65″. Additionally, artwork is often not correctly scaled. Use the guideline of filling 2/3 – 3/4 of the wall in which you’re hanging. If hanging art over a sofa or mantle for example, again use the rule of 2/3 – 3/4 the width of the piece underneath.
4. Storage Has Not Been Considered – As I’ve mentioned before, two of the first questions I ask clients about the space they wish to design is, “Who will be using this room?” and “What activities will be taking place here?” Armed with that information, you can look for creative ways to store the things that will be making their home inside your room on a frequent basis. Pieces such as storage ottomans, credenzas, built-in cabinetry and shelving perform double duty when housing things like electronics, games, books, childrens’ toys, and pet supplies.
5. Curtains Are Not Hung Correctly – Again, I go into this in more detail here, but be sure 1) you’re purchasing 95″ curtain panels and hemming them down, 2) your panels are hung wide enough so they only cover the window trim and fall between 16″ and 20″ on either side of your window, and 3) panels are hung 1/2 – 2/3 of the way up the wall between the top of the window trim and the ceiling. Curtains should be hemmed to either pool on the floor, or hang no higher than 1/2″ from the floor.
6. You’ve Followed a Box Store’s Furniture Recommendations – Okay we’ve all done this at some point…but seriously it has to stop now. Avoid purchasing furniture in sets, and for goodness sake, donate the pillows that come with your couch. Bonus if they don’t even make it into your house. They’re almost never the appropriate shape, and even more often they notoriously come in the most heinous patterns. Maybe someday that will change, but for now…just trust me on this one, okay?
Avoid these mistakes and I promise you will be so much happier with your home!