Avoiding Home Decorating Disasters

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So you’ve shopped 'til you've dropped, poured over every issue of House Beautiful you can find and are finally ready to tackle a home decorating project to update an otherwise out of date space.
We’ll before you push "go," it is a good idea to know the most common interior design don'ts. Avoiding these will improve your design, save time and money, and help make your experience more enjoyable.
Davis Remignanti,

So you’ve shopped 'til you've dropped, poured over every issue of House Beautiful you can find and are finally ready to tackle a home decorating project to update an otherwise out of date space.

We’ll before you push "go," it is a good idea to know the most common interior design don'ts. Avoiding these will improve your design, save time and money, and help make your experience more enjoyable.

Davis Remignanti, lead design consultant for online retailer Furniture.com, says many decorating pitfalls are easy to avoid, including:

The Big Bang. Don’t expect to go from blank canvas to finished interior in one fell swoop. Interesting interiors are created in layers, over time. Don’t try to get it all at once.

Wing and a Prayer. Don’t start without a plan. Survey your resources - your current furnishings, your work schedule, your budget. Then make a list of needs, wants, and things you'd love "down the road." Reconcile accordingly.

Ebenezer Scrooge. There are times when it’s better to splurge than to economize. Shop carefully for the right balance of price and quality. A “bargain” sofa loses its charm when its seams split and arms start to wobble.

My Way or the Highway. Be open-minded about new ideas - sometimes a fresh approach is best. Try re-arranging your furniture to jump start a design update. Furniture.com also offers a free online Room Planner to help lay out your room.

Making Do. That “perfectly good” hand-me-down dining room probably isn’t winning any points for good design. Just because someone offers you something, you don’t have to accept. Second-hand can be wonderful and inspiring, as long it fits with your “look.”

More is Better. Mix, as well as match, your furnishings to add variety and increase your design options. Use accent pieces to introduce new colors, textures and shapes to prevent your room from becoming monotonous.

Doubting Thomas. Don’t trust your own judgment? Do research, clip photos from magazines, watch design shows, and ask your friends. Start small, build your confidence and learn from mistakes. The best designers did the same.

Leslie Segrete, decorator, designer and carpenter on TLC’s 'While You Were Out' and 'Trading Spaces,' has also seen her share of decorating don’ts. “Good design is process of designing space that meets the needs of the family who lives in that room. But too much stuff is the killer of design dreams so every decorating should project begin with a good clean-up and all out effort to eliminate as much clutter as possible, she said.” Segrete also suggests:

Borrowed is better. The best way to keep costs down when freshening up a room or completely redecorating is to borrow decorative items from others rooms in the house. Snoop around that finishing touch might just be hiding in the attic.

Check the bones. If your search of secondhand furniture stores turned up some bargains, the most important thing to check before purchase is the frame. If it has a nice shape and "good bones," new fabric or fresh finish can take that trash to treasure.

If you are overwhelmed by the design process, Segrete says dividing rooms into areas of usefulness, like a place for relaxing and an area for entertaining is an easy way to get started.


See more design tips and find out about home staging.

Note: Tom Kraeutler is the Home Improvement Editor for AOL and host of The Money Pit, a nationally syndicated home improvement radio program. To find a local radio station, download the show’s podcast or sign-up for Tom’s free weekly e-newsletter, visit the program’s website.

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