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5 Decorating Mistakes You Never Want to Make

Entrance of a home with a gallery wall and three black sconce lights hanging above a natural timber bench with cushions and throw blanket on top. The floor is oak and a large bag sits below the bench. To the left sits a fiddle leaf potted plant. The walls are white, and the door is black, with the top half swung open, letting in fresh air.

Image Source |

Did you catch my last blog on How to Best Spend Your Renovation Budget? Once you’ve nailed down how much you have to spend, it’s time to consider what decor you’re going for in your house. Here are 5 decorating mistakes you never want to make, and how to go about avoiding them.

1. Succumbing to Trend Fever

A subtle moroccan tiled fireplace is topped with a dark timber mantel. On the mantel sits two pieces of monochrome abstract paintings and a tall, two-toned ceramic vase with branches splayed out organically. To the right is a tall timber bookcase filled with books, baskets, ceramic pots and other decorative objects. The floors are honey oak. There is a blue persian style rug on the floor and there is a midcentury chair and timber coffee table with a plant and coffee table book with a gold decorative object sitting on top.

Image Source | Lindsey Brooke Designs

Everyone likes the feeling of having something shiny and new, which is why it can be alluring to go all-out on the trendiest new home decor during a major renovation. The problem with trends is that they date quickly (and often, poorly).

A mid-century dining room with a brass pendant hanging over a timber dining table with black fabric dining chairs with brass mid-century legs. The table is sat on a persian inspired rug and light timber floors. The walls are white with white floor-length drapes. Adjacent is a charcoal painted feature wall nook. On the wall is a round oversized mirror hanging above an open buffet. On the buffet sits a table lamp, a plant and other decorative items.

Image Source | Leclair Decor

My tip is to utilise trends sparingly, and be wise about how and where to use them. Avoid trends on large investment pieces that you’ll have for a long time and opt for fads in smaller accessories instead. A good rule of thumb is the 80/20 rule - 80% of your budget should go to timeless design and furnishings, 20% can go on trends.

2. Identical Timber Finishes

A view of the space that holds an open dining room and a lounge room. Sheer curtains cover a wall of windows. Dark walnut floors have a vintage rug sit atop. The dining room table is a light timber and oval shaped surrounded by dark timber arm dining chairs. A lighter mango wood console sits behind a white fabric sofa and a table lamp sits on top with fabric stools sat beneath.

Image Source | Brian Paquette

When it comes to timber, you don't want to have the same species and finish throughout your home. That's boring! Choose instead to mix it up with variations of timber in different rooms of the house.

A round white pedestal dining table is surrounded by traditional dark oak dining chairs. A wild flower arrangement in an ornate brass vase sits in the middle of the table surrounded but other vintage brass candlestick holders and black taper candles. The floor is a timber with a very dark stain and the walls are white with an arched doorway with interior of the doorway painted black.

Image Source | Pinterest

Keep in mind that formal timbers like walnuts, cherries and mahogany pair better together than with informal timbers like maple, birch and pine, while oak does well with all. You’ll be able to make a real impact by mixing different finishes with formal timbers throughout your home and adding in stand alone oak pieces along the way.

3. Focal Point Confusion

The lounge room of a New York townhome is decorated in the French style with an ornate marble fireplace mantel and a Louis Philippe arched brass mirror on top. A French crystal chandelier hangs from the ceiling. On the floor are honey-coloured chevron parquet timber. In the centre of two yellow velvet sofas is a Beni Ourain rug with two metallic nesting tables on top. Flanking the fireplace on the left is a gallery wall of mixed media artwork and on the right is one single large piece of art.

Image Source | At Home In Love

Every room has a focal point. If you don't define it properly, one will emerge without your assistance, and it likely won't be very pleasing to the eye. Some rooms will already have a natural focal point, such as a fireplace or large open view. If this is the case, try to compliment the sides of the fireplace or window to create balance and not competition.

Interior Designer : Cortney Bishop | Photography: Katie Charlotte

If you don't have a fireplace or a beautiful outdoor view, then you get to create the focal point yourself. This could be lovely artwork or a sculptural mirror hanging above a sumptuous sofa, or gorgeous floor to ceiling drapes. Either way the focus is in your hands so be sure to make the most of it.

4. Being Afraid to Upscale

White sofas face each other with a mirrored coffee table with coffee table books on top. There is a brass three-cubed floor lamp in the corner and a large abstract black and white painting framed in brass hanging above one of the sofas. Two dusty pink cushions sit on the sofa below. The timber floors are covered with a white area rug.

Image Source | Camila Spinelli

A common decorating mistake I come across is going too small with art, sofas and rugs. While erring on the side of caution may work in other situations, having pieces that look too small for your space will always end up looking like a fail.

A Parisian style living room with honey coloured parquet flooring, a deeply veined marble fireplace with tribal sculptures and a large brass mirror sit on top. The walls have ornate mouldings and are painted white. A modern grey chair sits alone with an extra large organic round mirror with a black frame hanging on the wall behind.

Image Source | Amelie Gillier

If you measure and plan properly, you should be quite confident about what will fit in your space, and try to go as big as you can. By going larger, you're sure to make an impact. The same goes for accessories - you’re sure to garner more wow with a single large sculptural bowl than lots of tiny pieces that can come across as knick knacks or clutter.

And speaking of planning, that leads us to Number Five…

5. Measure, Measure, Measure!

A white room with extra high ceilings features a baby grand piano. The piano sits on a black and white Beni Ourain rug and is framed by a large floor-to-ceiling window with white drapes. On the adjacent wall is a grid of six framed abstract art pieces and hanging from the ceiling over the piano is a black and white pendant.

Image Source | Grand Traditions Fine Homes

As the saying goes, measure twice, cut once. But just because you've measured the space, and measured the piece, it doesn't mean that you're covered. You need to be sure to measure any doors a large piece needs to fit through, and spaces around corners, hallways and elevators if you live in a building.

A Spanish/California style master bedroom with exposed timber beams and a glass chandelier hanging from the centre beam over the bed. The master bedroom has large black steel doors that open onto a private patio. The king size bed had a muted curved headboard and is flanked by black wall sconces and timber night stands. On the dark timber floor sits a jute rug, with a smaller vintage Turkish rug layered on top.

Interior Designer: Elizabeth Stanley | Photography: Ryan Ford

Don't be discouraged if a piece seems like it won’t fit around a corner or through a door - sometimes it can make it in through a window! In my first apartment, my sofa didn't fit around a tight little corner leading past the kitchen into the lounge. Fortunately we had a large cutout in the wall between the two spaces, and with the disassembly of a pair of hanging pendants over the bench, we were able to lift the sofa safely through the cut out and into the lounge room.

So, what decorating mistakes have you made in the past? Keep a lookout for the final blog in our 3 part August series - we’re going furniture shopping!

Millennial woman residential interior designer based on the Lower North Shore of Sydney, Australia. She is wearing a white and grey tweed blazer with a white cami underneath, jeans and black framed glasses. Her hair is dark blonde and she is smiling with her legs crossed and her arm rested on a marble and walnut side table surrounded by native Australian flowers and plants. A watercolour abstract painting in a matted and brass frame hangs on the wall behind her as do charcoal drapes.

Ready to start your home makeover? We can help you reach the sweet spot of a timeless yet contemporary aesthetic. Give us a call.

Book a Discovery Call.

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