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Just like in the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, everything in this lovely dining room is not too big and not too small, but just right. The art is exactly the right size for above the fireplace. The rug is large enough to allow the chairs to be pulled back without going over the edge and still not too large for the room. The dining chandelier is in correct proportion to the dining table as is the centerpiece.
And if you look at the back of the room, you can see that the mirror is just the right size for the wall area and sideboard and that the grouping of candle holders are large enough to be the only accessory on the sideboard.
This avoids Mistake No. 8: Incorrect scale and proportion
The most common places where I see scale and proportion out of whack include:
1. Art that is too small for the wall on which it is placed: Try to cover 2/3 of the available area.
2. Bedside lamps that are too small for the side tables: The bottom of the shade should be about even with or just above your shoulder when seated in bed.
3. Sofas that are way too big for the room: No simple rule of thumb here. If you are having an impossible time placing the sofa, it is likely too large.
4. Accessories that are just too little: Just like the phrase "Go big or go home," a few large accessories will always look better than a cluster of tiny objects.
5. Area rugs that are either too large or too small: There are many ideabooks written on the various considerations here.
Tip: To help you get scale and proportion right, print out several large photos of all your rooms and write down dimensions of existing furnishings and room sizes. Take them with you and shop where there are designers to help you get sizes right. Again, I emphasize providing large photos of your rooms or spaces. Nothing is more useless to a designer than a tiny picture on your cell phone.
I just can't say enough about the beauty and the wonder of built-in cabinetry. This bedroom cabinetry has 15 — count 'em — 15 drawers in which to hide your pants, shirts and what-have-yous. The display space above gives an opportunity to admire a collection. Beautiful!
This avoids Mistake No. 9: Inadequate or unattractive storage solutions
I run into poor storage most often in bedrooms and home offices. Do you have a giant armoire plus a couple of dressers lined up along the wall in your bedroom? I run across this scenario often.
One dresser or armoire won't handle the storage needs, so another and another is purchased and lined up like they are in a firing squad. Whenever two or three storage pieces of furniture are lined up in a row on one wall, the room looks crowded and oppressive, even when the furniture pieces are good quality and nice looking.
Rather than buying several storage pieces, put your money into a well-designed built-in for the best use of storage space. Custom closet storage is also better than cramming several dressers in a room.
Here is another bedroom with beautiful built-in cabinetry. Incorporating window seats and building in around the windows was a wonderful idea. They have a single armoire to the left and the remaining storage needs are taken care of by the built-ins. So much nicer than extra dressers would have been.
If you have an office lined with a conglomeration of plastic drawers and tubs holding everything and still have stacks sitting on the floor, look at this slick cabinetry made of plywood. Storage solutions don't have to be high-end to hold everything you need and look great.
This last space seems to embody everything I've been talking about so far. The window treatments are impeccable. Furnishings are well proportioned, comfortable, durable and are arranged to promote socializing. The color palette and lighting are beautiful. So how does a space get everything right? This space was clearly very well planned out.
This avoids Mistake No. 10: Lack of planning
Have you ever done something and then had to undo that something in order to do something else you should have done before? That sentence will make perfect sense to you if you didn't plan your home project well.
One of the first things I have my clients do is sit down and write out a list of all of their wishes and desires for their home. Many clients don't execute all of their decorating or remodeling plans at a single stroke for many reasons. The list is prioritized by sense of urgency and budget, but we also evaluate everything to be sure projects follow along in the optimal order.
For example: If you plan to paint the interior walls and ceiling, and you also want to add lighting fixtures in the ceilings or walls, you should do all of the electrical work first. Otherwise, you may find yourself having to cut open a wall or ceiling to run wiring and then having to repair drywall and paint all over again.
Coming up with a master plan gives you your best shot at good design. It prevents you from making costly mistakes and from boxing yourself in because of decisions that were made without regard to future projects.
This concludes my top 10 common decorating mistakes. Check out Part 1 from earlier this week for help on the other five stumbling blocks to good design.
How about your experience? Is there another mistake that you think belongs in the top 10?
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