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7 home-design mistakes to avoid

There’s a famous saying in music that the silence—or the space between the notes—is more important than the sound. The same concept applies to interior design. It’s often what a designer doesn’t do that leads to a successful outcome more than any grand flourishes they may pull off. Top-notch interior designers have all sorts of tricks, tips and hacks to get the results they want, and a lot of them have to do with knowing what to avoid. Here are seven all-too-common wrong moves to avoid on your next home design project. 

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1. Ignoring proportion and shape

Let’s look at the culinary arts for inspiration. The ideal plate of food contains a variety of texture, color and flavor. The same is true for the ideally designed space. All too often rooms feature furniture pieces of uniform size and shape that, as a result, evoke an identical emotional response. Don't pair a huge couch with a large side table. Mix and match both proportions and forms. It may take a bit more work, but it will sidestep the trap of mundane uniformity.

2. Illumination situation 

An extremely common yet easily avoided design mistake is outfitting a room with too much of one type of light. As with furniture, the well-designed room has a variety of light sources, each with a different function. Don't over index on lamps or trust an overhead light fixture to do all the work or rely entirely on recessed lighting. Give it some thought and get your lighting right with a balanced mix of fixtures and functions.

3. Pattern overload

Multiple, conflicting patterns do have their place. They can work in a small bathroom, for example, to draw focus from the size of the space. But in larger rooms, two or more patterns can become overwhelming. In a living room, kitchen or bedroom, it's better to play with a single pattern that can deliver emphasis. Anything more gets confusing—and clashes—quickly.

4. Misplaced art

Chances are, those striking framed photos or gorgeous oil paintings in your living room are too high up on the wall. The goal is to place the midpoint of the print, painting or photo somewhere around eye level or slightly below—think about five feet off the ground. Your guests shouldn't have to crane their necks to take in the piece. 

A related mistake is to put pieces all around a room when grouping them together can be far more powerful and effective. (In keeping with the height rules, the midpoint of a gallery wall should be about eye level.)

5. Badly hung drapes spell curtains for a room

Another common mistake is assuming curtains are just about covering windows. That's their primary job and function, yes, but they can do much more. If curtains are hung too low, they'll create a sense that the space is smaller than it is. Curtains that are too short at the bottom will have the same negative effect. Hang the curtains high, make them long—floor length if possible—and enjoy a space that feels just right.

6. Establishing a perimeter

There's a natural inclination to put all large pieces of furniture against the wall. This is the path of least resistance. It's also boring. Use your imagination and take some creative license: Put two chairs in front of the fireplace or move that daybed away from the window. A space is about feel and flow; you don’t need to set your furniture flush against the perimeter of every room.

7. Find the balance between aesthetics and comfort

We get it: You want your space to look cool. But a home is meant to be lived in, not curated, and observed from afar. If you must choose between how something looks and how something feels, prioritize the latter. When you're sitting down after a long, tough day, you'll thank us. That kooky vintage lamp you've been eyeing, though? You should probably go ahead and spring for it.

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