Decorating mistakes

Evidently HGTV had a special on recently about 25 common decorating mistakes. I didn’t hear about it beforehand or I probably would have taped it, but I saw a link at The Nester to a post where Rhoda compiled the top 25 decorating mistakes according to HGTV. I searched the HGTV site and found their lists here.

I like to think of myself as fairly easy to get along with and willing to listen to advice, but this kind of thing makes my inner rebel rise up and declare, “Who sez?” I do like to watch or read “the experts” sometimes, and I appreciate gleaning knowledge about things like how to make a small room look larger, how to place arrangements on the wall in a pleasing manner, etc. But, similarly to what I said about frumpiness and the fashion industry, this kind of advice can go way overboard sometimes:

  1. Fake flowers and plants. (I don’t do well with real plants, and even if I did, who would be able to keep up with them in very many rooms? And what about wreaths and wall hangings and such? Now, I agree that some artificial flowers scream “fake,” even to the point of frayed fabric edges, and I think it is best to try to avoid those. One reason HGTV cites for not using fake plants is that they gather dust, yet, oddly, they recommend dried natural plants. But in my experience those gather just as much dust and show it more than fabric flowers.)
  2. Too many pillows, on the bed or sofa. (This one I would agree with, just as a matter of personal preference, not necessarily because someone says it is “wrong.” I’m fairly practical and just don’t want to take off and put back pillows on a bed when I get in it or make it, or to have to arrange them constantly on the sofa because they would be constantly out of place.)
  3. Knick-knack overload. (Again, a matter of preference…and time and willingness to dust. :))
  4. Fear of color. (I think I’d agree here. I have seen some nice nearly all-white rooms that are that way not because of a fear of color but because the owner thought it looked serene. Personally I like more color than that, but I don’t like bright, bold colors in my home. I like softer, soothing colors.)
  5. Ignoring windows
  6. Pushed back furniture. (This is one of my pet peeves of decorating advice. I think furniture only needs to be pulled away from the walls is in a larger room where it would be hard to converse if the furniture was placed against the outside walls. The average home I have lived in or visited doesn’t usually have the room to do that just as a decorating scheme.)
  7. Tacky couch covers. (Plastic ones? Definitely. Protect furniture with a preventative spray rather than plastic. And ill-fitting fabric slipcovers look sloppy.)
  8. Frames too high. (I agree, but I think frames hung too low are just as much if not more of a mistake. They recommend a frame be hung over a sofa with six inches between the top of the sofa and the bottom of the frame. That’s too low for me — I have big guys who rest their arms on the backs of the couch — they’d be constantly bumping the art. And even if that wasn’t a problem, I just don’t like art right there behind my head as I am sitting down. Unless it’s a really big piece [and personally I loathe big wall art that takes up the whole space above the sofa, but that’s just me], then hanging frames that low would mean they’re too low when you’re standing. My rule of them has been to hang frames where the middle-to-top [depending on size] is at about eye level when standing.)
  9. Improper lighting (I agree with this one completely.)
  10. Floating rugs.
  11. Too many colors/patterns (I generally agree here, but then again “too many” is a relative term. I tend to be pretty conservative.)
  12. Furniture that doesn’t fit
  13. Following fads (I agree here…except sometimes you don’t know something is considered a fad until the rest of the decorating world moves on to something else and says your style is “out” now.)
  14. Everything matches (Generally agree here — I like a little variety rather than having everything the exact same color and pattern.)
  15. Lack of traffic pattern. (Definitely! Rooms that are hard to get around in are just uncomfortable in every way.)
  16. Uncomfortable dining room chairs.
  17. Too formal (It does need to be livable.)
  18. Keeping something you hate.
  19. Lopsided furnishings.
  20. Outdated accessories (This is a hard one to pin down — what looks outdated to one person might look retro or vintage to someone else. And it is VERY expensive to replace things like kitchen cabinets just to get a newer look.)
  21. Out-of-Place Themes (Rhoda’s list just said “Themes,” which I do like to some extent, but the HGTV site listed “Out of Place Themes” like a beach-style room in Alaska. That makes sense.)
  22. Undressed cables. (True. Love technology but hate the abundance of wires and cables.)
  23. Ignoring the foyer. (That first impression does set the tone for how your house comes across to other people.)
  24. Too many family photos (This one bothered me until I read their reasoning. I think my reaction stemmed from a home economics teacher who looked down on the idea of using many family photos. True, you don’t want your home to look like a shrine, but on the other hand I love to see family photos in a family room or hallway. Having a lived-in, family-oriented home is more important to me than having a magazine-cover rooms.)
  25. Contoured Toilet rugs. (Well, they do keep my feet warm in the winter, and my feet aren’t where any yucky stuff would be [I live with all males — if you have any in your home you know what I mean. :)] And I would much rather toss the rug in the wash than have to mop the floor every day, which is what I’d feel I needed to do without a rug.

I have to admit after I read the designers’ comments in context on the HGTV site, I didn’t feel quite as riled as I did when I first saw the list. 🙂 And I did see that the show is scheduled to air again November 2.

As a general rule I do enjoy decorating shows though I don’t watch them often. Sometimes I can be inspired by a lot of creative and helpful ideas: sometimes some of the specific things they do are immensely impractical for a real family to live with. I like to just glean what I like and what works for me without really worrying much about whether a designer would approve.

7 thoughts on “Decorating mistakes

  1. Good morning, Barbara,

    Thanks for the kind comment you have left on my published quilts.

    What a fun post this is… I think according to this list, I am a mix-bag when it comes to decorating. I think I definitely tend to veer toward the more formal side – but perhaps that’s a personality issue as much as anything else. 🙂

    Have a blessed day!

  2. Some of these bug me too! I have a black thumb. All my plants are half dead. But I’ve adheared to the no fake flowers one and let me tell you my dead plants don’t look any better.
    The picture behind our couch is about eye level, about 12 inches (maybe 14) above the couch. At 6 inched the kids would knock it on the floor.
    I love my family pictures and they can just forget it with that one.
    And I live with all males too. The contoured toilet rug is a must.
    These types of “rules” always rub me the wrong way.

  3. Our home is as we like it…:) If HGTV shows up on my doorstep to inspect, they’ll be sorely disappointed in me…but I’m not parting with my contour rug either!

  4. I too enjoy the decorating shows — when I’m recovering from major surgery and can’t do ANYthing else! LOL! But I find that I often find myself saying (on shows like Trading Spaces and such…) I’d KILL ’em if they did that to MY home! … so I’m not sure decoraters know everything! Right now MY windows ARE ignored – and I LIKE them that way!!! But it’s been a little over a year since I took down the curtains … so I’m sure soon I’ll be figuring out something new to do with them!

  5. When I was a child, my piano teacher had plastic couch covers. She had dogs. I’d never seen them before, and never asked her about them… but I always wondered when she was going to “unwrap her new furniture”! 🙂

    I completely agree about family photos. It’s part of our identity to have some photos around that show the whole crew at different stages and doing different things.

  6. Pingback: Fakes are fine with me « Stray Thoughts

  7. Good morning, Barbara

    One of the perks of living near my daughter is being helpful. I was called at 7:05 this morning and asked to come take the children to school. My daughter put her Tahoe in the shop yesterday, SIL had to sub and had already left, the only car left was the Miata. Luckily, I had my first cup of coffee already and I didn’t need to do anything but slip on some clothes other than pjs. I’m so glad that I can help and besides SIL spent all that time helping me get wireless.

    I’m going to go and look at this list on HGTV. I like some of their shows. Some of the decorators are trendy, and some are too extreme but it is good to get other tips. I tend to decorate in a homey way. This is my space and I am not trying to impress. Have you ever been in someone’s home who used a professional decorator. It looks nice but not exactly comfortable.
    I want to see what they said about windows. I tend to use only valances and blinds because I like looking out at nature. This house had blinds, drapes, valances and sheers when we came to look at it. It was hard for Honey Bear to see if we’d have enough light coming in. We don’t like dark rooms. I knew once we got those windows uncovered, things would look better to him and they did.
    My pillows on the chairs are more for back support than fashion. I like having family photos in different size frames but I don’t use them for wall art.
    Okay, I’m going to read that previous post now. That Bible verse was in my devotion this morning. I don’t believe in coincidence so maybe God is trying to get my attention.
    Blessings,
    Mama Bear

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