Avoid These 5 Common Design Mistakes

Let’s be real.  Everyone makes mistakes…including experienced interior designers/television hosts.  (Not naming any names!) ???? It’s all good. Why?Because we live, we learn and as long as we don’t make the same mistake twice, we’re doing alright!  This month’s blog is a cautionary tale of sorts and my way of compiling the design mistakes I most often encounter (as in over and over again).


Everything relates. Charcoal grey wall paint is complimented by greys in the carpet and throw pillows.



The blunders are almost always “too” something or other.  Hopefully by sharing them, I’ll help you avoid major headaches caused by these time-sucking, money-eating mishaps.



Wait to Paint.  If at all possible, postpone choosing your paint color until after you’ve selected artwork, area rugs and draperies.   It’s much easier to select a color after you have these foundation elements in place versus trying to retro-fit your furnishings to match a paint color. By waiting to paint, you’ll be able to take advantage of great deals on furniture and take the stress out about whether or not it matches your walls. This gives you the freedom to fall in love with an inspiring piece of art and not worry if it fits into your color scheme. Instead, pick your paint color around the items you love. If you couldn’t or didn’t wait to paint and now you’re committed to the wall color, there are smart ways you can work with it so that the room still feels pulled together. Another easily avoidable faux pas is when people don’t use a good, quality paint and a high-grade painter’s tape like FrogTape. Messy paint lines are the worst!!! Investing a few extra bucks into both of these items is like having insurance that the job will be done right!




Get pro results with crisp lines by using a premium painter’s tape like FrogTape.



Find accessories like a vase, throw pillows, area rug or even a coffee table book in the wall color. All you need is a couple of small moments of that color to make the room jive together.  Speaking of making the room jive…If you choose a bold wall color, sometimes a stark white ceiling can be too harsh a contrast. One pro tip I often recommend is asking the paint store to drop 20% of the wall color into the white ceiling paint. It’ll still read a white ceiling, but with just enough of the wall color to make it look cohesive.









The statement wall color is nowhere in the area rug and that’s ok. Instead, the color is punctuated with the wall art so everything jives.



Size Matters. Easy…I’m talking about rugs here. Remember I told you I’ve made mistakes? Well, I’m not too proud to admit that this design girl fell victim to my #2 design blunder; buying a rug that was too small for the space. I installed new hardwood floors and wanted to show them off.  So, I chose a custom-cut rug (typically a great option) but opted to go smaller than usual. With custom-cut rugs, not only can you get the exact size rug you want, but many times you can also save money by having a piece of remnant carpet bound. You never know what they have in the back of the showroom, so ask!  We loved our hardwoods. We loved our carpet. So, what could go wrong? I’ll tell you! As soon as we laid it down it literally shrunk the room…clearly not the effect we were going for.  To add insult to injury, we had to pay (again) for a larger area rug. To lessen the chances of this happening to you, make sure you can fit at least the front legs of the room’s furniture on the carpet (all four are better in my opinion).  I know large area rugs can be expensive but it’s better to pay once and really have it work in the space than buy a tiny, awkward rug that diminishes the overall vibe you want.  The larger the carpet, the larger and richer the appearance of your room. It’s that simple. If only I’d listened to my own advice!



This generous area rug from one of our own design projects provides comfort and coziness while giving the appearance of a larger space.



In this case the designer used one foundation rug to tie the sitting area and piano corner together. Layering hide rugs helped to define the individuality of the spaces. Credit: Nicole LaMotte






Far Away Furniture. Ever walk into a ginormous room with every piece of furniture pushed up against a wall? Yeah, me too.  It’s not what I call “conversationally cozy”. In these cases, there’s usually a coffee table floating in the middle of the vast space something like 5 feet away from the couch. If this sounds familiar, bring the furniture in toward the center to create an intimate conversation area. If the room is large enough, create two conversation areas and anchor each space with its own area rug. Even if the room has wall-to-wall carpeting, don’t be afraid to layer an area rug on top to help define the areas within the room. This is a perfect way to not only make the most use of the space but also to enhance seating capacity for entertaining!












Dining room artwork in one of our Boston projects displayed at the perfect height






That’s a Reach.  On most of my design shows, I’m typically one of the most vertically-challenged people on set. This only becomes a problem when someone else much taller hangs the wall decor. Their idea of eye-level and mine are completely different!  To ensure that your wall art is the right height each time, make sure it measures approximately 50-52 inches from the floor to the center of the piece (this can vary based on the art and wall height). Use this as a guideline to ensure that your wall decor won’t be hung too high or low and that it will compliment the room the way it should.














Home With Heart. It’s your home, so tell a story with your furnishings that exemplifies the life you live.  It hurts my designer heart to walk into a home that looks like a clone of a showroom floor.  Don’t be afraid to incorporate unique accessories, family photos, books and decor items that showcase your interests and let people know who you are.  Personalizing your space will make you feel even more comfy at home and will give your guests the chance to get a sneak peek into your personal side.


What does this space tell you about the person who lives here?  Credit: Michael Giragosian


So you can create a gorgeous living space that makes sense on every level, I welcome you to learn from my experience as a designer including my own personal mishaps.  Hey, live and learn, right?!


Thanks for reading!!  If you know someone who’d enjoy this blog, please click below to share! Message your ideas for future blog posts to me @taniyanayak.  I’m listening and always inspired by you.