My (Current) Top 6 Decorating “Don’ts”

I most definitely am not a design expert, but I’ve seen enough “good” and “bad” decorating to enable me to create a list of decorating “don’ts” that amateurs and those who simply don’t know what to do often make. 

Note: I didn’t use any photos because I didn’t want to pull one from Pinterest and hurt someone’s feelings by saying they were a decorating “don’t,” so hopefully you can use your imagination 🙂

1.  Fake Ivy: Just Say No!  I often see fake ivy on top of kitchen cabinets, and I cringe every time.  I know this was a big trend in the 1990’s, but it no longer is “in.”  Plus it is just a huge dust collector.  Instead of using fake ivy on top of your cabinets, try a strand of lights to create some dramatic uplighting (see my post on this here), or a collection of pretty vases, urns or plates.  

2.  Fake Trees.  If you have a blank corner in a room, you do not have to use fake trees to fill up that space.  Again, fake plants are dust collectors, so consider a real plant that will help purify the air in your home.  Or if you have a black thumb like I do, opt for a tall floor lamp to brighten the space.  Fake plants are ok if they are little, mini topiaries, but even those should be used sparingly.

3.  Pictures hung too High.  In all honesty, I think it’s better to go too low than too high, but it’s best if you can find the sweet spot right in the middle.  If you struggle finding this though, consider a grouping of pictures.  This way, you’ll cover both the high and the low spots and it’ll all work out.

4.  Furniture Sets.  I know I need to tread delicately here because so many people own entire dining, bedroom and/or living room sets.  Personally though, I think that there is no bigger way to forfeit all creativity and possibility in a room.  Think about it: all the truly fabulous rooms that you see on Pinterest and in magazines and books feature homes that are collected and curated…and not bought in one fell swoop at a big box store.  If you currently have sets in your home, don’t get rid of them, but do consider moving one of your matching living room side tables into another room.  Also, don’t be afraid to scoop up that bargain piece you see at Homegoods, or spring for one dreamy table lamp from Lulu & Georgia.  It’s ok (and encouraged) to put things together that are not matchy matchy!  Just trust your gut and study your favorite pinned rooms for a little inspiration.

5.  Overhead Lights.  For goodness sake, turn off that overhead light!  No one ever looked good in the shadow of an overhead light, and they surely do not create any ambiance.  Instead, use table and floor lamps to create a little drama and coziness.  TJ Maxx and Homegoods have so many fantastic ones to choose from, and they won’t break the bank.  (Don’t be afraid to buy just one!  Lamps don’t necessarily need to be purchased as a pair.

6.  Area Rugs that are Too Small.  If none of your living room furniture is touching your area rug (aside from the coffee table), it is much too small.  I’ve found that an 8 x 10 foot rug is the perfect size of rug that provides the most versatility.  It’ll likely fit in your living room, in your dining room, and in your bedroom, so you can switch things if and when the urge strikes.  If you don’t have a rug in your living room you should definitely consider buying one.  It’ll anchor the space and make everything a whole lot cozier.  For an even more unique look, you can even layer a smaller rug over a larger one.

Know of any other decorating “don’ts” that I missed?  I’d love to hear what’s on your “no no” list!

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Katie Vail
Katie Vail

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Leave a comment

  1. January 5, 2015 / 6:45 pm

    I'm with you on all of those. The only place I need an overhead light is in the kitchen (mostly so I don't cut my thumb off.) Great recipe for great rooms.

  2. January 6, 2015 / 2:53 pm

    Well, I am feeling so good after reading this post!! One and two, never ever! Three is one of the things that drives me CRAZY when in others homes. If you have to lift your head to see an item on the wall, it is way too high! Four, well, we never could afford sets in our early years and now I love what I have created from our travels. My husband and I fight about five all the time, I walk in a room and ask if he is planning on doing surgery! And six, really, I don't know how people don't get that! Thanks for the boost today!

  3. Anonymous
    January 12, 2015 / 3:05 pm

    When I moved into my new townhouse I bought all new matching furniture. I'd never had it in my life before and decided the time was right. Since then I've spent most of my time finding old pieces to include to give it some personality so I know exactly what you're saying about matching sets. I felt like I was living in the furniture store and that just wasn't me. My mother was a florist and could make anything grow, she'd turn in her grave to think I had a fake plant in the house so you'll find none of them here!

  4. January 12, 2015 / 5:10 pm

    Maggie, I totally agree! That and plucking eyebrows, lol

  5. January 12, 2015 / 5:10 pm

    You're welcome! And I'm so glad you agree!

  6. January 12, 2015 / 5:11 pm

    So glad to hear you agree, and thanks for reading!!

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