11 Common Décor Mistakes Interior Designers Want You to Avoid

Not Varying Furniture Heights

London-based interior designer Abigail Ahearn says one simple styling mistake can prevent a room from reaching its full potential. “Without sounding like a drama queen, scale and proportion are the holy grail of design,” she says. “If everything is the same size or if everything is either too big or too small, your room will read like a hot mess.”

Using Dark Furniture in Small Spaces

Finding the perfect décor for a small living space can be a serious design challenge. Tali Roth says she often notices one key mistake in small rooms: dark furniture. “Many people tend to lean toward heavy, bulky, and dark furniture pieces,” she admits. While it might seem like a harmless choice, she notes that dark décor instantly makes a room feel cramped and cumbersome.

Choosing the Wrong Rug Size

Rugs can completely transform a room and create a point of interest, but home style expert Emily Henderson says it can be hard to judge the right size for your room. Her pet peeve? Small rugs. “I see it virtually every day, and it pains me, especially when it’s so easily avoided,” she explains.

Hanging Art at the Wrong Level

Finding the perfect piece of art for your home is only half the battle, says interior designer Max Humphrey. A key mistake Humphrey notices is when art is hung too high or positioned in an obvious way. “I think it’s a mistake to be too precious about highlighting the placement of your art. Just because you spent some money on artwork doesn’t mean it won’t still look awesome over a sideboard in the hallway with a lamp and a pile of books right in front of it,” he notes.

Overdoing Design Trends

Nate Berkus might be a leading industry voice when it comes to the hottest trends, but his number one tip for styling a truly unique space is to stop following fads. “The mistake people make is that they’re often insecure. They look over their shoulder and listen to what everyone else is talking about instead of sitting down and asking, What do I really love?” Berkus tells MyDomaine.

Not Having Multiple Light Sources

Lighting decisions might seem like a practical part of the design process, but according to Athena Calderone, founder of EyeSwoon, it’s an aspect people often misjudge. “Lighting is incredibly important to any space. When lighting is washed over you from above, it can be unflattering and harsh,” she says. While overhead lighting often seems like the most obvious choice, Calderone says the best spaces have a plethora of light sources to create various ambiances.

Buying a Large Dining Table

Designing your dream space often encourages you to make decisions based on an ideal lifestyle rather than reality. While the thought of constantly throwing long-table dinner parties and extravagant events might sound appealing, the reality is often quite different. If you live in a small apartment, Chicago-based interior designer Brooke Lang says to avoid buying a large dinner table unless you’re sure you’ll use it. “It’s a huge mistake to buy a large dining table with six to eight chairs. Every inch counts in a small space, so flexibility is key,” she urges.

Not Measuring the Room

If you’re prone to making décor decisions on a whim, interior designer Mikel Welch says you might be making a vital error. Before making a purchase, gather the dimensions of each piece to form a plan: “One of the most common interior design mistakes people make is relying on the eye to measure a space. Instead of purchasing furniture pieces because it’s your favorite, consider the overall volume of the space. Measure every nook and cranny." Always map out your space before committing to décor.

Not Prioritizing Greenery

"When people ask me what my biggest 'stop doing that!' peeve is, it’s adding elements of life with a bunch of sticks shoved into a tall vase and then stuck into a corner,” says Brian Patrick Flynn of Flynnside Out Productions. “I think this happens because homeowners run out of steam (and cash) at the end of a redesign, and they want to add some element of height and organic texture, but it really doesn’t add anything at all to the room.”

Going Cheap on Big Pieces

When it comes to getting more bang for your buck, Ashlie Mastony says people often make the mistake of buying lots of inexpensive, small accents. It might seem counterintuitive, but she says it’s far more financially savvy to invest in one statement (and, yes, possibly expensive) accent instead.

Arranging Furniture Flush Against a Wall

When planning a room, interior designer Betsy Burnham says people often fall into this simple styling trap: “For some reason, people love to push their furniture pieces up to the walls of their rooms. It really doesn’t save or create more space!” she notes.

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