Easy-to-Fix Decorating Mistakes

Are You Making These Decorating Mistakes?

The cocktail table is too far away from the sofa to be useful.
The cocktail table is too far away from the seating to be useful. Paul Burns/Stockbyte/Getty Images

If you gather a group of design pros and ask about the decorating mistakes they've seen, you'll hear similar stories from each one. Though decorating is personal and good taste is subjective, some practices are nearly always mistakes. Fortunately, some are easy-to-fix decorating mistakes.

Hanging Artwork Too High

Hanging your artwork too high on the wall makes it impossible to appreciate the subject matter -- and it just looks goofy.

Unfortunately, it's a common decorating mistake. It's not uncommon to walk into a tastefully furnished home only to spot a tiny piece of framed artwork so high on the wall that it looks like a postage stamp.

As a rule, artwork should hang at eye level. That usually means hanging a piece 56 to 60 inches from the center of the artwork to the floor. Opt for the upper end of the acceptable range if the adults in your home are tall, and stick with the lower if the residents are mostly of short to average height.

If you have multiple pieces of artwork hanging in a cluster, the center of the grouping should hang at eye level.

If your artwork is all too small for your wall, try hanging a rug, quilt, or another textile.

Piling on Too Many Throw Pillows

Throw pillows are wonderful. They're an easy, inexpensive way to add color and pattern to a room.

But, if you've piled on so many pillows that the furniture isn't functional, you need to tuck some of them away in a closet. You can always rotate them when you're ready for a change.

For a sofa or chair, you've got too many throw pillows if you can't sit down without moving a pillow.

On your bed, if it takes forever to make the bed (or remove the throw pillows at night), you've got too many. Aim for no more than three rows of bed pillows, including those you use to sleep.

Hanging Dining Room Chandeliers Too High

Your dining room chandelier should illuminate the table -- and it should have a visual relationship to it.

Ideally, hang the chandelier so its bottom is 30 to 34 inches from the dining table's top. Opt for the upper end of the range if your ceilings are high or if the chandelier is especially large. For shorter, eight-foot ceilings and small chandeliers, stick with the lower end of the range.

If the chandelier chain or cord isn't long enough to hang the chandelier at the right height, buy a new chain or have a lamp shop install longer wiring. It's a small price for a cozy, well-lit dining space.

Leaving Too Much Space between the Sofa and Coffee Table

The space between your coffee table and the front edge of your sofa should be no more than 18 inches and no less than 12.

If you place the table too close, someone is going to bruise a leg. If you place the coffee table too far away, it's not functional. 

Most people err by on the side of leaving too much space. Assuming no injury or disability, you should be able to lean over slightly and pick up a glass or place a book on the tabletop. If you can't, you need to move the table closer.

Hanging Curtain Rods Too Low

When you hang your curtain rods too low, your window looks short -- and so do your walls.

Don't mount your rods on the window's top casing or just above it.

Instead, create the illusion of extra height by installing the rod at least halfway between the window frame and the ceiling, but don't hang it higher than two inches below molding at the top of the wall. Rooms with vaulted ceilings are the exception.