Three Decorating No-Nos and How to Avoid Them

There are three decorating no-nos I suggest you avoid in your home if you want to make it feel more pleasing to the eye, more cohesive, and more comfortable. Interestingly, I have this conversation with almost every client I work with, whether it’s decorating or organizing their space.

Choosing Paint Colors

Paint colour, in my opinion, can make or break the look and feel of your home. One of the decorating no-nos is choosing a paint colour for one room without considering all the rooms in your home. Ideally, you want to gather paint chips for all the colours you currently have that you do not plan to change. Then carefully choose one colour to tie everything together.

series of paint swatches attached to a card

I like to repeat the same wall colour or a tint of the same wall colour three times in the home. For example, you could repeat the colour on the kitchen walls in the main bathroom and a guest bedroom. Or pull the accent colour on the fireplace wall into a powder room and the mudroom. The possibilities are endless, and that’s the reason many people turn to professional interior decorators for help. It is a bit of work to get this right. But worth the time to create a colour palette that works seamlessly throughout your home. And please, do not be afraid to put some colour on your walls! It’s just paint; it can be changed.

Area Rug Sizing

Another one of the decorating no-nos I see often is the wrong size of area rug for the space. I get it. A decent area rug is expensive, and the larger it is, the more it costs. Please, I beg you, save your pennies so you can afford to buy the right size rug for your space. And be sure to measure carefully before you go shopping! Ideally, the furniture in the room should sit on top of the rug or at least touch the edges. If it does not, your rug is too small. Then instead of pulling together the room, the rug simply floats in the middle. Other than adding some colour and pattern, it just looks odd. However, you might be able to move your furniture closer together, away from the walls, and make your existing rug work.

Wall-to-wall carpet has almost completely gone out of fashion in favour of hardwood, vinyl or tile flooring. Thus, a nice area rug is essential to make your rooms feel warm and cozy. Furthermore, with open-space living, a rug can help to create separate spaces and help dampen sound.

one of the decorating no-nos - a living room with furniture showing an area rug that is too small for the space
Area rug that is too small for the room size.
Living room showing area rug that is the correct size for the space.
Area rug that is the correct size for the room.

As I’m sure you know, most area rugs come in standard sizes (5×7, 7×9, 8×10 etc.). If you need a different-sized rug, you could consider having one made by a supplier like Nourison. Or you can go to your local flooring store, choose wall-to-wall carpeting and have them make it into any size you want. Another interesting option is carpet tile which is sold in 20″ x 20″ squares. It can be assembled in a variety of configurations.

Height of Artwork

One of the most common decorating no-nos is hanging artwork at the wrong height. In my opinion, hanging artwork at eye level rarely works – especially if whoever hangs it is very tall. I asked art experts for their opinion and they say to hang your artwork so the centre is 66″ (167cm) from the floor. However, that could be too high in some cases. Personally, I find hanging frames with the centre 60″ (152cm) from the floor seems to look ‘right’ to my eye, although that will depend on your ceiling height and the size of the piece. Read more of my tips on hanging artwork.

Then there are exceptions, such as when you are ‘grounding’ a piece over furniture. For example, when hanging art over your sofa, centre your pieces and have the bottom edge 6″-8″ (15-20cm) from the top of the furniture piece. When hanging art over a table, try for 8″-10″ (20-25cm) above the top. Additionally, you could create a grouping with a chair, an end table with a lamp and an art piece, in which case the piece may be lower or higher depending on how it relates to the other elements.

one of the decorating no-nos - art hung too high on the wall in a living room
Art hung too high on the wall.
a grouping of furniture and home decor with artwork hung at the correct height for the design
Art hung at the correct height for the design.

I’m sure you also know that hanging one tiny piece of art on a big wall is a decorating no-no. The effect is similar to the too-small area rug that gets lost in the room. The artwork gets lost on the wall. Combining several smaller pieces is better as you can create a wonderful gallery wall.

Take a walk around your home and see if you can make a few small changes to an area rug or artwork placement. It may make a big enough difference that you don’t need to buy a thing!

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