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5 Decor Fails and How to Avoid Them

SEPTEMBER 19, 2017
Photo credit: Lauren Martin
We know that decorating a home can be challenging. Of course, it would seem so much easier if we could follow a rule book but unfortunately—or perhaps fortunately—there are no set rules. In order to take the uncertainty and guess work out of designing, we turned to one of our talented Elite designers Lauren Martin to take over our blog and share her tips on how to avoid some of those typical design pitfalls.

I've seen hundreds of homes over the years. Each and every one has it's own personality, strong features, and also its faux pas. There are few usual suspects in the department of décor fails.  If you find yourself guilty, no need to fret. Here are some simple tips and tricks that can transform any home that's victim of these interior design crimes. Give these solutions a try today! You'll see how they will instantly elevate and soften your home for an effortless, naturally styled look.  

Fail: Matchy-Matchy

Image via Lauren Martin

Reason: Buying a matching furniture set (ex: nightstands, dressers, even all matching decorative pillows) was popular for decades. The same goes for living and dining room furniture. These days it feels too formal, repetitive, and sterile. You want your home to have character, be a reflection of your life, and how you live in a space. We are all seeking originality, to feel different than next person. Your furniture choices should be considered with the same thoughtful approach.   

Fix: The good news is this problem offers a fairly economical solution. You can get away with changing one piece at a time. For example: You can keep your bed and dresser, and replace those nightstands for more unique, vintage wooden ones from your local flea market, thrift store, or Etsy shop. You could also change the bed for a DIY upholstered headboard. The possibilities are endless, just keep in mind that your space should look like a page from your own dream home, not a retailer’s catalog.  


Fail: Fake Plants

Image via Lauen Martin

Reason: This is a big "no-no" for most designers, yet surprisingly one of the most common faux pas I see when visiting a client's home for the first time. I get it. Watering is a pain, and you don't want to wrestle with an indoor plants finicky survival skills. However, when you do make the swap from artificial to real, it will completely transform your space for the better. Live plants improve air quality, soften a rooms angles, draw attention to natural light sources, and make a room feel darn right happy and chic. Even in a studio apartment rental, it helps bring the outdoors in. I dare you not to crack a smile when looking at your little guy. They're a mood booster too. 

Fix: Start small. You don't have to start with African Violets (temperamental), or go big (indoor tree—although I do love them!). Get a small potted succulent or cactus at your local greenhouse or farmers market. Maintenance and watering is minimal with no fuss. You could even get an orchid, and after a month or two when the flowers fall, clip the bare stems and keep the remaining leafy potted plant. Still too much effort? Pick up a bouquet of flowers next grocery store run. Put them in a pretty vase, in a place you'll see them every day. You might just pick up the habit of buying flowers for YOURSELF. No one knows what you like better than you. Treat yourself!  


Fail: High Water Drapes

Image via Amber Lewis

Reason: This point might come from an interior designer’s “itch” but there are few things that “harm” a room’s elegance as much as short drapes. For me this is the equivalent of people wearing jeans that are too short for them. And I do not mean intentionally (as I wear often). Just as people may look as they have outgrown their clothes, short window treatments look as if they've been washed too many times, are old, or being repurposed and not intended for the space.  

Fix: Buy new! They can be custom in a fabric you love, or an easy, breezy linen blend in the RIGHT length. While many designers have their go-to patterns or colors, I'm a firm believer that not all elements in a room can be the star. Some design features should play supporting roles instead. In my projects, window treatments are meant to disappear, while making a space feel lighter, brighter and bigger. Especially if you're on a budget, go neutral. You don't want to draw attention to the least expensive pieces in a room unless that piece is an uber cool vintage find perhaps.  

Another designer trick—Mount your drapery rods as close to the ceiling as you can (shy a few inches). This will instantly make your windows seem larger, create more visual volume in the space, and make your ceilings appear taller. Once you'e decided the height of the rod then measure from the bottom of the rod to the floor. That should be your new drape height. Drapery should be just "breaking" the floor meaning just hitting the floor with ½" - 1" on the floor.  


Fail: Rug in Dining Room 

Image via Design Chaser

Reason: Ok, I know this one is a bit controversial. And it's hard for me to even say it, because I LOVE a good rug!  Of course, many times, they do look lovely in a dining room. That being said, I'm a practical gal and prefer a minimal approach here. When I vacuum my own house, the place I pick up the most dirt is always under the dining table and chairs. Having pets and kids really does a number, and I need to clean up fast.  Another annoyance is moving dining chairs and them getting “caught” or stuck on a rug. 

Fix: Many homes now offer an open concept living/dining room. This means both areas are connected in a larger space, rather than individual rooms. Having a large area rug "frame" the living room furniture arrangement, while keeping the dining room rug free, opens the space for a loftier, more modern, clean feel. It will save you money too. Win, win!  


Fail: One Color Palette

Photo by Amy Bartlam

Reason: Some people think that the easiest way to make your home look beautiful and “nicely decorated” is to choose one color and spread it around. So they get blue pillows, with blue throws, blue art, blue accessories, you get the picture. Well, this just makes a home seem impersonal and more cookie cutter.

Fix: Get rid of half of the accents that are the same color and replace them for one or two colors that look good with your color palette. It can be neutrals or another pop of color that is complimentary. Even neutrals don't have to be boring. They are a good way to make your space feel warmer and restful. If you are a neutral lover, add interest with multiple textures, soft patterns and different hues of the same color. 

And one last big design tip—Buy your large furniture pieces in neutral colors. If you're a person that gets bored quickly, is afraid to go bold, having a neutral big piece makes it easy to change pillows and accessories, creating different moods and/or changing your home with the seasons. 

Thank you, Lauren for your designer tips and tricks. Feeling inspired and want redo your room but worry about those common design mistakes? Well, pop over to Lauren's page to start a design project with her today! Happy Decorating!



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