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Look how beautifully these drapery panels allow the full width of glass to show. Who would want to cover one more inch of these beautiful windows and lovely view than they had to? These draperies are perfectly placed and sized.
This avoids Mistake No. 1: Poorly placed or sized window treatments.
The rest of this list may be in no particular order, but I admit that this mistake is my number-one pet peeve and probably the mistake I do see most often.
Drapery rods end just at the edge of the window so that when the panels are pushed all the way open, they still cover quite a bit of the glass. If you want to keep as much light as possible, use a rod that extends past the sides of your window by the full width that the panels take up when pushed all the way open. That width is called the "stack."
How many inches wider than the window your rods need to be will depend on how wide the panels are, what kind of fabric is used, and the type of attachment to the rod — grommets, metal or wooden rings, tab tops and so on.
These fresh, white drapery panels are perfect. The sliding doors are probably the standard 80" height, but the panels are hung all the way up at ceiling height, drawing your eye up and accentuating the height of the room. They are also the perfect length, just skimming above the floor so they don't get worn as they are opened and closed.
If the tops of the panels were hung as I often see them — just above the top of the doors — they would draw the eye lower and give the impression of a lower room height. For functioning drapery panels, they should just skim above the floor so they don't get worn being opened and closed.
If you are putting up decorative panels that don't move, then they can just touch the floor, or if you like the look, you can puddle them generously on the floor.
This room with this little gal in her pink skirt looks casual, inviting and full of joy. What a cutie! It looks like the sofa is upholstered in a good quality microfiber, which is nearly indestructible and very easy to clean.
This avoids Mistake No. 2: Choosing materials, finishes or furniture that won't hold up to your lifestyle.
Life is too short to spend it fretting about every spill or sticky little hand.
Although it might mean you need to give up the idea of a white sofa, or spend more to get better quality and more durability, it's worth the investment to select materials, finishes and furniture that let you relax and be yourself.
Remember your four-legged family members when it comes to choosing furnishings. Fur is easily wiped off of leather, although you need to keep claws trimmed. The dark area rug is a good choice around pets and children, too.
This room is an exceptional example of a well-lit space. Look at all the sources of light! There are ceiling lights for general ambient light. Up-lights mounted on the wall send light to the high ceiling. The stair risers have lights to make it easy to watch your step. Table lamps provide flattering accent lighting and are a good height for reading as well. There are spotlights on each piece of art.
You can also see that in the dining area, there are spots set to graze the wall, highlighting its texture, plus a chandelier over the dining table and accent lighting inside the display cases. And don't forget the candles on the coffee table! The combination of all of these lighting sources gives a richly layered look to the room.
This avoids Mistake No. 3: Inadequate lighting.
I often see homes that have all ceiling lights, but no other light sources. Or absolutely no ceiling fixtures and just one or two table or floor lamps with dark shades. Neither scenario provides all of the light that you need.
A good lighting plan includes ambient light from ceiling or wall fixtures as well as natural light from windows, plus task lighting which may be for reading or food preparation if it's the kitchen. And lighting doesn't really feel complete without some accent lighting such as pretty chandeliers, decorative table lamps or lighting on art.
This furniture arrangement shows a comfortable conversation area. All of the seating is close enough so that you can sit and speak to each other comfortably. The living room is fairly narrow, yet each piece of furniture has a little breathing room. The sofa has a console table behind it allowing some accessories to be placed there for interest.
The chairs are pulled forward enough to allow the drapes to move freely. The narrow, oval coffee table allows plenty of room between it and the seating, while still being within easy reach to place drinks.
This avoids Mistake No. 4: Pushing furniture back against the walls and too far apart from each other.
Many people would have taken one look at this living room and shoved their sofa back against the wall and the chairs all the way back to the drapes with a big coffee table in the middle.
Rooms actually look bigger when the furniture is a little bit away from the wall — even if there isn't enough room to walk behind the furniture. If your sofa is shoved all the way to the wall, put down your laptop, go pull your sofa about 6"-8" forward and see if that doesn't make the room feel a little better.
I would rather use a rectangular or oval table and have my furniture a little farther forward than to have a larger coffee table with the furniture tight against the wall.
Conversation is also more comfortable when the furniture is closer in to each other.
Even when you have a very large room like this where you could have your furniture much farther back without being against a wall, pull your pieces of furniture forward around the coffee table to allow people to converse comfortably. It will make the room feel more intimate.
The dining chairs in this stunningly beautiful dining room look very comfortable! The padded leather seats look soft, and the high, gently curved, fully upholstered backs look like they give plenty of support. Perfect for lingering to chat over dessert. I hope it's creme brulee!
This avoids Mistake No. 5: Uncomfortable dining chairs.
Dining chairs should be so comfortable that you can have a leisurely dinner, dessert and coffee without anyone feeling like they can hardly wait to get up from the table because their back or posterior has had enough of the chair.
The whole point of having a formal dining room is to have wonderfully enjoyable meals with friends and family. If you are uncomfortable before you've savored the very last bite, then your chairs aren't a bargain at any price.
This is just the first half of my list of common decorating mistakes. Check out Part 2 for help on the other five stumbling blocks to good design.
More: 5 More Design Mistakes to Avoid
How to Get Your Window Treatment Right
How to Get the Pendant Light Right
How to Layer Patterns Right
How to Get Your Area Rug Right