5 Common Mistakes People Make When Decorating

Emily Powers with Three-Sixty Interiors Vancouver, WAThere are 5 common mistakes people make when decorating. I learned  these from my mom long before I knew I would have a career in Interior Design. So I’m going to pass them along to you!

Mistake #1: Hanging Artwork at the Incorrect Height

The common mistake I see in homes is when the artwork is too high on the walls. And by “too high” I’m talking about where the top of the artwork is 12" or less from the ceiling! Artwork should be hung at eye level. Your eyes want to maintain flow when looking around the room, not a roller coaster ride!

Everyone’s eye level is different, so you should be going for an average. “Gallery height” is when the center of the artwork at 57”. But that is too low. I have found that the center at 63” is the perfect height.

Artwork hung at eye levelFor gallery walls, measure to the center of the grouping.

To achieve this, measure 63” from the floor and that is where the center of your artwork should be. My go-to for hanging artwork is 3M Velcro strips. Besides eliminating holes, they make it easier to level artwork – and ensure it stays level!

The largest size can hold up to 16 pounds if you use one strip in each corner. But for heavy items, such as mirrors, I use screws. Be sure to use drywall anchors if the screw doesn’t go into a stud.

Mistake #2: Grouping Décor in Wrong Amounts

Group décor items in ones or threes. Here are some examples of "ones":

Bed and bedside table decor

vase of pink flowers on stack of magazines

Living Room

Here are some examples of "threes":

Cacti on coffee table When grouping in "threes", vary in height and width.

Decor in group of threeYou can group "threes" by placing them in a try or on a mat.

Living Room


Collections are the exception to this rule, and you can display as many as you want. Keep them in a single layer so it's not too busy.

Teapot collection

Mistake #3: Using Too Many Different Colors

I always use a main color, and no more than 2 accent colors. Neutrals count as a color and can either be the main color or one of the two accent colors. Again, “three” seems to be a perfect number when decorating!

If you like all the colors, don’t worry! This rule only applies to each room. Unless you have an open concept, in which case it counts as one room. Use a consistent color palette in the kitchen, dining room and living room if you can see all three at the same time.

Songbird Homes model home living room color palette
If you are more timid with using color, decorate with a neutral as your main color. The pops of color (accents) can be smaller items that are easier (and cheaper!) to replace. Examples are drapes, throw pillows, area rugs, artwork, and small pieces of furniture.

Songbird Home model home bedroom paletteBecause two of the three colors are neutrals, it would be easy to change this color palette.

Mistake #4: Not Having a Place for Everything

Organized pantry

Growing up I learned “everything has a place.” When things don’t have a designated place, you end up with clutter. But that doesn’t mean you should throw clutter into a closet or drawer. Giving it a designated space means it’s still organized, even if you can’t see it. Even my mom’s “junk drawer” was organized! And because of that, I always know where things are when I need them.

This also means not storing random décor you don’t use on a daily basis. Unless it's seasonal décor (Halloween, Christmas, etc.), consider donating/selling/tossing it.

When everything has a place, your home always appears clean (even if you haven’t mopped in months). Because when your home isn’t cluttered, people get the impression of clean!

Mistake #5: Not Changing It Up

couple moving a couch
This should have been #1! It was a joke in our house that my mom was always rearranging. My poor stepdad never knew where the toaster was. Now that I’m an adult, I do the same thing.

Rearranging every year or two keeps things fresh and new. When I first moved into my current house almost 4 years ago, I thought I knew where I wanted everything. And I nailed it with my family room! Sometimes there is only one good option, so don’t feel bad if you can’t arrange it.

But every time I’ve rearranged the other rooms, it’s been a change for the better! I also rearrange my kitchen cabinets until I find the perfect configuration. It feels perfect now, but we’ll see a year from now!

Rearranging is good to perform some much needed deep-cleaning. It’s a little entertaining (and sometimes disgusting) the things I’ll find in my boys’ rooms!

Living room with large window

By avoiding the 5 common decorating mistakes above, your home will shine!

Please comment below on the tip you found the most useful.


  • Three-Sixty Interiors

    Sabrina, Thank you! She was an amazing woman!

  • Sabrina Wright

    Fantastic information to share. Great advice from your mom!

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