Once you’ve purchased a home and moved in, the fun part—settling in—begins! For those of us who aren’t lucky enough to count interior decorating or professional landscaping as a sixth sense, here are examples of what not to do.
25 Biggest Decorating Mistakes
1. Fake flowers.
This is controversial, but fake flowers (and plants) are a mistake. They gather dust and don't bring life into your home like real flowers do, which look and smell better. Fresh flowers are expensive, but there are other things you can do instead of buying them all the time. Put lemons or other fruit in a bowl for a punch of color. Or, use some dried natural material like curly willow or bamboo stalks.
2. Too many pillows.
If the pillows actually hinder being able to sit on a couch or lie comfortably on a bed, then it's obviously too much. Too many pillows on your bed also take a long time to remove at night and replace each morning. Instead of buying so many pillows, spend your time, energy and money decorating an area of the room you're actually looking at when sitting in bed. A few accent pillows work best.
3. Knickknack overload.
Knickknacks, decorations, tschotkas, accessories. Call them what you want, we all have too many of them. Rotate what you have. If you really like something but it's been out for a while, store it for a bit. You don't have to have it all out at once and every surface should not be covered. If you're ready to part with it, sell it online or donate it. Edit your collections so they look good as a small grouping.
4. Fear of color.
Many people love color but are scared to use it. They're afraid to paint their walls because they fear it's going to be too bold, it's not going to look right or the furniture isn't going to match. You have to try a paint color in the room to make sure you like it there. Live with it at various times of the day as it's different in the morning, afternoon and at night. If you don't like it, paint over it. Color is a great punctuation and doesn't have to be overbearing. Make a color choice and take some ownership of your space.
5. Ignoring windows.
Bed sheets or blankets are made for the bed, not the window. Treatments finish off a room and are like jewelry for windows. Plus, besides paint, window treatments are the easiest and least expensive way to change the entire look of your room. A good rule of thumb is to hang curtains two inches above the frame of the window. You could also do something as simple as a small linen Roman shade to make sure you are blocking light.
6. Pushed back furniture.
This is when all the furniture in a room is lined up against the walls. Sometimes the backs of furniture are beautiful and a sofa with a little table in the back is a great place for a display. Get the furniture off the walls and bring it into the center of the room. Make it communal and create a great focal point, which really enlarges a space as well.
7. Tacky couch covers.
It's not just grannies that are guilty of the seventh biggest decorating mistake: tacky couch covers. If you love your furniture, there are more interesting ways to protect it such as using a protectant spray or throw blankets and pillows.A nice throw blanket that doesn't overpower the couch accents rather than hides the piece. Keep it simple and sleek.
8. Frames hung too high.
If you have to bend your neck to see your art, then it's hung too high. You generally don't want to be looking up at your artwork, whether sitting or standing. Eye level is always a good height to aim for. Look at the top of your door frames and if your pieces are big enough, they could just reach the top of the door frame and go down from there. A good rule of thumb when you are hanging artwork over a sofa is to make sure the bottom edge is about six inches up from the top of the sofa. That way, the wall art is anchored to the piece and you have a direct, pleasing view of that artwork from any other seat in the room.
9. Improper lighting.
People think bulbs are bulbs, shades are shades and lamps are lamps, not realizing the effect lighting has on people. You want different types of lighting for different moods and for different times of the day. Dimmer switches are a great secret weapon—they’re cheap, easy to install and give an entire range of control of the mood and the feeling of a space. In a kitchen, you want to be generally illuminated and to have task lighting. In a home office, you want to light on your deck so your work is clearly lit. Don't think about just one ceiling fixture that washes everything out because it will flatten the whole room.
10. Floating rugs.
Floating area rugs are a big mistake people make. They're very distracting for the eye because they chop up a room and could be dangerous if you trip over them.Use a measuring tape to create an outline to get a feeling about where you want the rug actually placed before going to the store. A rug should always be connected to furniture - an anchor for the seating group. For an arrangement, put all the front feet of the furniture on the rug.
11. Too many color patterns.
If you have too many colors or patterns in a house, it tends to look very busy, crowded and distracting to the eye.
12. Furniture that doesn’t fit.
Showrooms where we buy our furniture are really big, so when you bring furniture into your home, the scale can be completely wrong. To avoid buying furniture that doesn't fit:• Draw a floor plan or purchase a kit so you can move the scaled pieces around for the best layout• Don't try to put too much into any space• Measure the room and you'll decrease the chances of making a mistake.
13. Following fads.
From beanbag chairs to lava lamps, be careful of trends as it's hard to get rid of those items once the fad is gone, especially furniture. Decorate in a style you'll really like for a long time and don't expect that whatever the latest thing is, is going to be built to last. Have fun with it but be ready to recycle it when it's out of style.
14. Everything matches.
A room that looks like it's a page from a catalog is a mistake because people don't really live that way. It's designed to sell furniture and give you an idea of what you might have in your house, but you shouldn't be matching the look that closely. Make it eclectic, not like the showroom you can't live in. You want to look from one wall to the other and be able to see something different.
15. Lack of traffic pattern.
If you don't have a traffic pattern for your furniture, you'll end up bumping into it all the time. The solution? Arrange furniture in such a way as to direct traffic through the room.
16. Uncomfortable dining chairs.
Never have an uncomfortable piece of furniture, especially a dining chair, which is all about comfort. You owe it to your guest to give them something comfortable to sit on, so a padded seat and back are nice. When purchasing a dining chair, sit in it and decide if you want to be there for a long time. Also, measure the height of your dining room table before you buy chairs to make sure they're not too low or too high.
17. Too formal.
While there's nothing wrong with a very formal approach to a room, you should still make people feel comfortable in it. If you have the space, use it. Give it a function, make it livable and ensure it's welcoming.
18. Keeping something you hate.
One of the biggest decorating mistakes is keeping things you really don't want like an existing carpet or a gift. If you really hate something, throw it out, give it sway or donate it to charity. Don't feel guilted into keeping things that don't suit you by dropping hints to friends and family about your style. When you walk by a store or see something you like in a magazine, show it to them so they understand your taste better.
19. Lopsided furniture.
Some people just don't have an eye for furniture arrangements so it helps to look at magazines to see what somebody else has done. Experienced decorators mix it up. If you have a sofa with a heavy bottom (upholstered all the way to the floor instead of the legs), don't do a big coffee table. Instead, use something light made of glass or with legs, and add a tall, thin floor lamp to help bring your eye up and make it more dynamic. Also, mount window treatments very high up and/or include a very tall armoire. Be sure to keep your furniture arrangements balanced to the eye.
20. Outdated accessories.
Your home reflects you, so what does yours say? Is it 1972 or 1950? It's hard to look at your own house and say it's tired, but if you pretend it belongs to someone else and something looks dated, there are many ways to fix it.Don't let your rooms feel dated by hanging on to older cabinets and especially hardware, which is like wearing outdated jewelry. Make small changes like switching the hardware on your kitchen or bath cabinets for big impact.
21. Out-of-place themes.
If you live in Alaska and have a Miami theme with wicker, it's just not going to work. When someone loves a place so much they decorate their house or apartment fully from another location, it feels forced and contrived. A home's decor needs to be authentic and provide a sense of where you are. Use accents to incorporate the look you enjoy without being overwhelming. If you have a house in the mountains and love the beach, display a collection of seashells or coral in or on a bookcase instead of designing an entire beach-style room.
22. Undressed cables.
Why would you spend money and time to make a room look pretty but then leave wires out for everyone to see? Here are some easy solutions to corral wires and cables:• Use a staple gun to attach them to the back of furniture or along baseboards• Many home stores sell cord covers so find ones that match your wall color• If the furniture isn't a valuable antique, drill a hole in the back for the cords to go through. Make it functional for you.
23. Ignoring the foyer.
It's really hard to undo a bad first impression. A foyer is a terrific opportunity to make a statement about who you are and what your house is like so you have to make it count. A foyer doesn't have to be something grand: Any statement is better than none at all. Use paint or wallpaper to add color and hang a beautiful mirror or painting. A mirror is great because it's reflective, creating the illusion of more space. Use the horizontal surfaces to hold mail and keys when you first walk in.
24. Too many photos.
You're either a photo person or you're not. Photo people feel very sentimental and have a hard time giving up the pictures on their walls and tables. You're putting them out because they're very special, but when there are too many, nothing's special because you don't know where to look. The solution? Photo albums. When you have a lot of photographs of family, friends and trips, organize them properly in photo albums so they're not all over your home. You can organize them by decade or by events, and then keep them nicely arranged on a bookshelf. Then try to display just a few framed pictures at a time.
25. Toilet rugs.
These are cut to fit around the toilet and sometimes have the carpet-like matching seat cover. They can be disgusting for obvious reasons. While a lot of people use toilet rugs because they don't want their feet to be on the cold floor, go for a regular rectangular-shaped rug away from the base of the toilet or wear slippers.
25 Biggest Landscaping Mistakes
1. Excessive lawn ornamentation.
People often make the mistake of putting too many decorative items in their front yard, which can be a distraction form the beauty of the natural landscape. Before selling out that lawn ornament, ask yourself why are you putting it there and how it fits in to the context of your overall design and plant materials. Stick with one crisp choice, even if it is a little silly. One little whimsical statement goes a lot further than 10.
2. Forgetting to recycle.
Yard projects tend to produce a good amount of waste, which most people don't realize when they set out to do the work. Instead of tossing out the branches, clippings and other debris, dispose of them in an eco-friendly way. Rent a shredder and turn them into mulch, and put lawn clippings back on the lawn - they are both great fertilizers. Another idea is to create a compost pile. Compost containers have gotten more attractive. Some almost disappear into the landscape.
3. Planting in the wrong place.
Improper plant placement is another common mistake. People often do not take into consideration the proper sunlight and exposure for their plants. Be sure to pay attention to the little tag that you get when you buy the plan. When it comes to planting trees, you need to remember how big they could get and how much space they are going to need. Also think about focal points - choose something that's going to look good year-round.
4. Planting too deeply.
One of the quickest ways to kill a tree is to plant it too deeply. Some folks figure the more soil they can put around it, the better. But doing so can actually choke the tree to death because there is no air allowed to go to the root system. Going to deep can also encourage root rot. Avoid these scenarios by looking at the main stem, where the largest branch is and then where all of the tentacles come out.That's the root ball, and that's what you want to meet, right along the surface. A good rule of thumb with plants is to dig to the actual height of the container in which it came.
5. Cutting grass too short.
It's a common myth that cutting the grass shorter means you have to mow it less. That's actually not the case, and you can do more harm than good. If you scalp the lawn, it could result in a bare patch, which could make it too inviting for insects and/or susceptible to disease. The key is to cut the lawn different lengths throughout the year. During the summer, the lawn needs a little more shade, so let the blades grow just a little bit more. That way the water doesn't evaporate so quickly. During the winter, cut it a little bit shorter so that the sunlight can actually get into the soil.
6. Forgetting the view from your window.
It may seem like common sense to think about the view from inside the house, but a lot of people forget it. Keep in mind what it looks like from all angles. Place your containers where you want them, and then go inside and look through every major window to see what they'll look like before you plant. It should be like a painting. When you look out, you should see the glass framed with beautiful trees and foliage.
7. Using the wrong-size pots.
It is best to start a plant in a larger pot so when it comes in it allows it more room to grow. However, if you put a plant in a pot that is too large, it can shift, sink down into the soil, get too much water or dry out too fast. Also, remember that you are going to have to re-pot it, eventually. It's easy to tell when that's necessary because little roots begin to stick out at the bottom. A word of caution related to re-potting. Be sure to give a plant plenty of time to get acclimated to its new pot before re-potting again.
8. Failing to fertilize.
There are two ways that fertilizing can be a mistake. The first one is not doing it at all. The other is fertilizing too much or fertilizing improperly. Ask someone at your garden center to recommend a proper fertilizer for your yard. It's a good idea to do it at least twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall. You should never do so in the bright sun, and watering always needs to follow. It's also a good idea to mix in fertilizer when planting new plants. Make sure that, when I dig the hole, I mix in new soil and I also mix in fertilizer. So the plant, over the period of a year, is going to have a nice time release of fertilizer.
9. Picking the wrong plants.
Just because a plant looks pretty doesn't mean it actually belongs in your yard. You have to take into consideration your particular backyard, with filtered light or shade, and what's going to work best for you. If it's a really hot, sunny spot, maybe you want to go with a succulent. Get a great landscaping book for your area to help you figure out what to plant and when, as well as how and when to fertilize.
10. Not accounting for wildlife.
Before you decide what to plant in your garden, think about what pests you have in relation to what you'd like to plant. For example, pretty flowering plants can attract deer, so you might want to throw in some bitter-tasting ones among them. Once they taste the wrong one, they are likely to stop coming around. If there are wild rabbits around, you may need to shelter your garden bed by building a small fence. Chicken wire is another option.
11. Being shortsighted.
Being shortsighted is a common problem because many people don't know what the eventual growth of their plants will be. You need to find out how they spread, how they reproduce and what type of maintenance they require. There are actually software programs available where you can design a landscape and then click a button, and it will show you the growth rate of those plants over a year or two years and so on.
12. Improper pruning.
Pruning can be just as much of an art form as it is a technique, but when pruning is improperly done, you can do more harm than good. If fact, in some cases, it's better not to prune at all than to do it improperly. Every plant has a different pruning process. The fall is usually the best time of year to prune, but be sure to find out for sure. There are great books and manuals as well as websites that offer tips and explain proper pruning techniques.
13. Ignoring color.
Before making a trip to the nursery, you need to know what palette you'd like as well as is which colors work well together. Look at the color of your house and then choose one color that really frames it. Try to stay semi-monochromatic for the most part because if there is too much color and it's too strong, if almost can become a distraction. Repetition and some harmony in a garden go a long way.
14. Irrational irrigation.
Use the correct amount of water for your plants and lawn. A lot of homeowners make the mistake of over-watering. Most lawns just need about an inch of water per week. The best time of day to water the lawn (and usually any plant) is early morning so that way it has all day to dry. You can buy a sprinkler with an automatic timer to reduce water waste, or even put in an irrigation system.
15. Using the wrong tools.
Having the right tool ensures your safety, maximizes your time and is more efficient in the long run. Think about the size of the job and dictate the size of the tool, accordingly. Some must-haves are safety goggles, gloves, a solid shovel and a good rake. Keep them organized, and keep them clean. For specialty jobs, you might want to consider renting a tool, and not just power equipment, but hand tools. Maybe you don't need that tool for the rest of your life, but you need it for that one specific job.
16. Failing to be family-friendly.
A lot of people get carried away with the theme of their yard. They don't think about how they are going to use the lawn or the area - they just think about how they want it to look. For example, a rock garden is really attractive, but probably not the best thing for a family with small children. Sit down and make a list of what you want to do in your yard, making sure to look at the needs of everyone in the household.
17. Impulse buying.
Do a little research before you reach and grab. Have some sort of a shopping list in mind and then get what you want and leave. It's very hard to return flowers, so this step is imperative.
18. Too much of the same thing.
Intermingle various shapes and sizes to give you interest in your yard as well as bringing the right kind of insects. Certain plants need certain nutrients, and if you plant all the same plant, then it's sucking all of the nutrients out of the soil.
19. Overlooking maintenance.
Part of planning a garden is also planning time to maintain it. Make up a maintenance schedule and abide by it. Garden beds need to be weeded at least once or twice a month, minimum. If you don't have the time to take care of your garden, make sure you have enough money to pay somebody to do it.
20. Ignoring the seasons.
Plan out your garden with regard to the seasons. When homeowners go to a nursery or plant yard, they often just buy what's in season at the time. Various flowers bloom at certain times of the year. If you've got a lot of plants that are blooming in the spring, remember that in the fall you're going to need some other plants, if you want foliage. Select plants look good in the winter and in the spring, if possible.
21. Underestimating the cost.
There is a lot of sticker shock in the world of plants. People often think "it's just a couple of plants, how expensive could it be?" Landscaping is actually 30 percent more expensive than any other type of home improvement project. Another area that gets underestimated is the budget, and one of the biggest factors in a budget is the labor involved. It always costs more, and people cost the most. When you’re starting a landscape project, make sure you have enough budget, because you want to do the job one time, and you want to do it right.
22. Overlooking exterior lighting.
The biggest mistake people make when they think about planning out their yard is that they only visualize it during the day. Just adding some exterior lighting not only helps with vision and movement, but it also really makes the garden pop. It doesn't have to be expensive or entail a lot of effort. For instance, there are a lot of good solar lights that can easily be stuck in the ground. The sun heats them up all day and then at night they come on with a nice soft glow.
23. Neglecting curb appeal.
Never underestimate the power of curb appeal. A lot of homeowners put all of their energy into the backyard, but the front of the house is where first impressions are made. There are three simple improvements you can make that make a big difference out front. Paint your door a contrasting color than what is at the base of your home, keep the grass trim and green and plant colorful flowers.
24. Mismatched style.
When selecting plants, you should match the architecture of your home with the theme of your garden. Besides the plants in your garden, you need to think about your landscape. If you are putting in a deck, for example, you need to make sure those elements of your garden also reflect positively upon your house.
25. Not having a plan.
Don't start a landscaping project without a plan. Decide on a specific theme or look and then draw it out on paper. Figure out where you want to put your plants and shrubs in relation to the shape and style of your house. Examine ways to bring the inside out so that when you are finished, you have a nice, harmonious design. Don't forget to factor in your budget, and when you hit the nursery, stick to it. If you follow the plan, you (and your landscape) will reap the rewards.