In nearly a decade as an interior designer, I have run into every design mistake imaginable — from clients forgetting to mention that their giant armoire needs to go up two flights of winding stairs to the color-blind bachelor who accidentally painted his home in clashing colors. There are three mistakes, however, that I see people make repeatedly.

Here are three expensive mistakes that could easily be avoided with a little forethought.

Wait on the paint!


You’re excited to finally redecorate your living room, but special order sofas and chairs take six to eight weeks to arrive. Paint, on the other hand, can be changed in a weekend.

I get it, I’ve been there, I’ve done that and guess what happened. I repainted the room within a few weeks, cursing myself for the wasted time, money and that bright red splotch on the carpet for which I had to buy a rug to cover up.

Why did I have to repaint? Because while there are a million plus shades of paint, there are only so many fabric dyes. That perfect shade of red you found for the accent wall will most likely be impossible to match in a piece of fabric.

My advice, the advice I’ve given to clients for close to a decade: Design your room first. Choose the fabrics for your sofa, chairs and window treatments before choosing a paint color. Once your choices have been made and the furniture ordered, then choose a color from your fabrics for the walls.

Most furniture stores will let you borrow the fabrics for a day or two. Take the samples to a paint store and have the colors custom matched. In the end you will have a pulled together room that looks as if it was thoughtfully and professionally designed, instead of one that looks forced.

It’s too big for you honey
That new leather sofa is perfect. Perfect color, perfect style and your six-foot-tall husband can lay down on it without his feet or head touching the sofa’s arms. He’s never had a sofa he can do that on!

You get it home and oops, the sofa didn’t look that big in the 15,000-square-foot furniture store, now takes up the majority of your 150-square-foot family room. Not only are you stuck with a piece of furniture that makes your home feel tiny but your existing furniture no longer fits. Also, if your husband’s laying on the sofa where are you going to sit?

This is the easiest problem to solve! You don’t have to know about floor plans or quarter inch scale. All you need is a photo copy of the furniture including dimensions (which most furniture stores are happy to provide), a tape measure and a newspaper.

Using the dimensions from your photocopy, lay the newspaper on the floor in the spot you would like the new piece of furniture to be placed. Rearrange the rest of your furniture around the newspaper.

Step back and ask yourself the following:  Can I easily maneuver around it? Do I have to get rid of my existing furniture in order to fit this piece in the room? Is my existing furniture now crammed together to accommodate this new piece?

If you are still unsure, ask a designer. Many furniture stores provide free in-home design services with a purchase or take a picture and a rough drawing of your room with measurements. A competent sales person/designer will be able to quickly draw a floor plan in the store and tell you definitively whether or not the new piece will fit.

Overhead lighting is not your friend


OK, so you spent several hundred dollars on an electrician who installed recessed-lights in the cathedral ceiling of your family room, and spot lights for your fireplace. While that may help a bit with resale, it does nothing for your complexion. New LED lights, popular for difficult to reach ceiling fixtures due to their longevity, tend to make skin look dull, dry and ages you rapidly.

Solution bring the light down. A variety of table lamps spaced evenly around the room provide a warm glow, instantly creating a welcoming atmosphere, while simultaneously transforming your complexion from undead to soft and youthful. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to look younger?

Designing the perfect home is not a difficult task. Don’t rush large decisions like paint colors or furniture pieces. Instead, come up with a solid plan first. Choose your fabrics, double check your measurements before placing orders for furniture or painting. Take it a step at a time and you will not only make fewer mistakes, but also save yourself money and headaches.



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