Karl Lohnes: The five biggest decorating mistakes and how to fix them

Group similar accessories and layer various tones of colour to create a pleasing looking home. Modern black coffee table $229, Ottoman with handles $149, Bouclair.com

Group similar accessories and layer various tones of colour to create a pleasing looking home. Modern black coffee table $229, Ottoman with handles $149, Bouclair.com

Almost everyone has made decorating mistakes. From choosing the wrong scale of furniture, to re-painting a room more than once, mistakes are often part of the decorating learning curve. It’s said that by home No. 3 you finally get into your decorating groove; you’ve made the errors and are more comfortable (and confident) with your style.

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As a decorator, my home is in constant flux. From changing the carpet seasonally, to moving the furniture around weekly, it’s inevitable I make some mistakes, but they help me learn. That said, mistakes also mean time, money and frustration. Here is my list of the top five commonly made decorating mistakes and their solutions. As the saying goes: measure twice, cut once to ensure a well-decorated home!

1) Painting trim and moulding a contrasting colour

Adding wall moulding and pronounced window and door trim has been a trend for years (older places tend to have the original fancy trims). While it can add wow factor, many people highlight those trims by painting them an alternative colour to the walls (usually white), which creates a racing-stripe effect and a visually busy room. Solution: Trims are a nice accent, but paint them the same colour as your walls for a relaxed and soothing space.

2) Making monochromatic decor schemes boring

Using one colour to decorate an entire room is a great way to create a calm environment, but many people make the mistake of using the same colour AND tone, which creates a “spray-paint-everything” effect. Solution: Layer shades (lights and darks) of a colour to create drama in a monochromatic room. Add texture in fabrics, carpeting and walls, as texture creates a tonal variety of the same colour. Add a so-called “non-colour” like black, grey or white to a monochromatic scheme for punch. Start small: a tiny bedroom or bathroom looks larger decorated with one colour and is a good place to hone your monochromatic decorating skills.

3) Purchasing too many carry-home decor accessories

It’s fun to shop for smaller items. Usually they provide immediate gratification and a way to incorporate a trend without costing as much as big-ticket pieces like sofas, rugs and tables. But many of us fall into the habit of decorating our homes only with accessories, and end up creating clutter. Rule: Plan your accessories to complement your existing decor scheme or to create a new look. Limit them to 20 (not 80!) per cent of your scheme. And choose quality over quantity (a cashmere rather than acrylic throw) so the accessory becomes a small investment with longevity.

4) Choosing a favourite paint colour in the wrong hue

Want to create a palette in a certain colour like red, blue, purple or green? The biggest mistake is choosing the wrong hue (warm or cool versions of a colour) or the wrong tone (light or dark). Rule: Use hues to balance the type of natural light that comes into the room. If a room faces north (cool light), balance with a warm version of your favourite colour. North-facing rooms also lack bright, natural light, so choose a lighter tone of your fave colour to balance the dimness.

5) Ignoring sightlines

To me, sightlines are more important than focal points. Sightlines are usually the furthest view you see when entering a room. When you walk through the front door, where does your sightline lead? If you can walk to that view uninterrupted, then you have created a successful sightline. It’s unsuccessful if furniture blocks your path. It’s also crucial that your sightline leads to a visually pleasing feature — a beautifully accessorized grand fireplace, for instance. As a designer friend of mine says: “If done properly, you create a pleasing destination to look at.”

Mistakes can sometimes be fixed without spending money

Group Your Collections: Instead of dotting your collection around a room (or the entire house), group it on one bookcase, window ledge or shelf for more impact and to reduce clutter.

Switching Rooms: Move an area rug, dresser or art to another room. If it’s an older piece, update it by refinishing, painting, reframing or reupholstering. It might continue to please you for another 10 to 15 years.

— Swap Your Stuff: Just like clothing swaps, try a decorating swap party. This could be done via an ongoing Facebook group, or invite friends over.

Do you have a decor dilemma or want to give feedback? You can contact Karl on Facebook or Instagram at Karl Lohnes Designer.

Karl has worked as a home decor expert and product designer for 25 years. He appears Thursdays during the 8 a.m. hour on Global News Morning Montreal.



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