8 Design Mistakes to Avoid - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

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8 Design Mistakes to Avoid

8 Design Mistakes to Avoid

I don’t know about you, but I’ve made plenty of design mistakes over the years and I continue to learn tips and tricks to making our small space feel larger, more sophisticated and intentional. Here are 8 common design mistakes I see, and a few things I’ve learned to help remedy them.

  • #1: Not Playing With Scale

    Whether you have a small or expansive space, not playing with scale can be a huge mistake. Having everything the same size, or either too big or too small, won’t take your room to its full potential.

    Solutions: Use a combination of heights and proportions to present a unique, sophisticated space. Vary the shapes of your pieces and even the legs of your furniture—some elevated, some flush with the floor. Like in our home, you can also place a really long cabinet against a wall to maximize form and function.

  • #2 Using Too Much Dark Furniture

    Nothing makes a room feel smaller than packing it with too many dark and heavy furniture pieces. While some may be able to design a dark, moody space and make it feel super sophisticated, for most it can be really tricky to make all the right choices in a way that makes it feel intentional. Most of the time, and especially with space-challenged rooms and homes, too much darkness makes it all feel stifling, cramped and bulky.

    Solutions: Lighten your upholstery, vary fabrics and finishes. If you’re worried about having too much light furniture or fabrics because of kids and pets, search for easy-clean options like performance fabrics on sofas or sealed pieces that easily wipe away spills.

  • #3 Buying The Wrong Rug Size

    This is probably the most common mistake I see, especially in the living room, where the rug really grounds the entire seating area. Too small a rug can really throw the space off. Living rooms, for example, almost always need at least an 8-by-10 or even 9-by-12 rug. If you’re thinking of a 4-by-6 or 5-by-7, don’t. Keep those to smaller spaces or entryways.

    Solutions: For living rooms, a good rule of thumb is to have the front legs of furniture on it. For bedrooms, have space around your bed and don’t extend the rug to the nightstands. Love this guide from Studio McGee.

  • #4 Not Lighting A Room Properly

    I’m obsessive about lighting and often time, fixing lighting challenges can really transform a room. Our home was insufficiently lit for years, and while I would love to have floor-to-ceiling windows to drench our rooms with natural light, that’s not a possibility for us, or for many of you. Having a single source of light (usually from above), can make the room look smaller and sometimes come off as harsh.

    Solutions: Use a combination of light choices to create ambiance. Sconces, table and floor lamps at different heights. Mirrors to bounce light around the room. You may also consider light temperature—too high in Kelvins (daylight bulbs) can sometimes make the room feel too stark/blue, while too low in Kelvins can wash the room with a yellow, dingy hue. I usually opt for 3000 to 4000 Kelvins (Bright White range) to cast a more neutral light. I also love using Hue White Ambiance bulbs, which while pricey, give you the option to customize the shade of light to your taste.

  • #5 Hanging Art Too High

    I was guilty of this when we first decorated our house twenty years ago. Everything was hung too high and I didn’t realize how off it really looked until I started to re-think my approach.

    Solution: Hanging at eye-level makes everything look more balanced, and sometimes even a touch below.

    And while we’re talking about art, this is definitely something to consider investing in, even if it’s gradually. Sourcing vintage pieces, original art, or even high-quality art prints, will elevate a space to new heights. Plus, consider adding a picture light atop it to add to that lighting diversity we just talked about.

  • #6 Hanging Curtains Too Low

    Hanging curtain rods just above the window can dramatically close in a space. Same goes for hanging the rod to end just beyond the window frame.

    Solutions: Hang the rod as high as you can, at least half a foot above the frame. Also, extend the rod as much as possible, to give the illusion of a much larger window. Doing just these two things will make your space feel larger and more open.

  • #7 Using Too Much Furniture

    Too much furniture can bulk up a space and make it feel super cramped and cluttered.

    Solutions: Keep good flow around furniture, smartly using space so no one has to shimmy between pieces or areas. Ensure each furniture piece has a function, contributing to the purpose of the room. But be careful about pushing all your furniture against walls—that can create dead space and make it feel disjointed. Don’t be afraid to pull out your accent chair or couch to create a more inviting layout.

  • #8 Creating Clutter With Too Many Small or Personal Items

    For many, filling your spaces with small, personal items (photographs, mementos, tchotchkes) feels like a natural choice to help make your house feel like a home. However, that can make everything feel super crammed and cluttery, and often times those things are not adding any value to the space itself.

    Solutions: Instead of cluttering your home with knick-knacks, be more thoughtful and intentional with what you do include. Gather a smattering of personal mementos and style together in a vignette. Or take everything you want to showcase and relegate it to a singular, well-styled cabinet (as in photo). Layer items over books in spaces that call for, or naturally invite, those personal touches (bookcases, cabinets). Gather your favorite photos in a clean, structured gallery wall.

    Prioritizing and editing, will open up a space and make it feel much more sophisticated. Imbue some breathing room into your home and give your eye visual rest as you take in your surroundings.

  • Check out this CALIFORNIA COASTAL project I worked on as we worked to solve several of the challenges referenced above.

This post contains affiliate links, meaning I’ll receive a small commission should you purchase using those links. All opinions expressed are my own. I receive no compensation for reviews.

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