Common Design Mistakes

There are a handful of design/décor faux pas that I see when I am remodeling or decorating a space. I thought it might be helpful for you guys to know what they are and to use this information in your next project.

Hanging Pictures

A word to all the tall husbands who hang pictures and mirrors for their wives, “it’s too high.” This is one of the most common mistakes that I see. If your mirror is hung on a wall and it’s only reflecting the ceiling fan, it’s lost it’s function. I like to tell people to hang all wall art to where the center is eye level with a person who is 5’5” (or about 60” off the floor to center). Now this is different if you have something underneath the artwork like a console table or a buffet. It’s all about scale, but use a large piece of art and hang it about 3-6” off the table.

The Mantle

Because I don’t like mirrors to reflect ceiling fans, I usually choose mirrors that have some sort of overlay (like a trellis) or patterns for over the mantle. Examples of mirrors you can use to break up the reflection of a ceiling fan are HERE and HERE.

Area Rugs

Another common mistake that I see are area rugs that are too small. For a bedroom I like the rug to slide underneath at least the bottom half of the bed and come out a good 2’ on each side. That’s usually at least an 8 x 10 rug.

In the living room, I like the sofas and chairs to have at least part of their legs on the rug and the side/end tables completely on or off the rug (you don’t want a table to lean). Your dining room rug should be able to encompass all dining room chairs when pulled out from the table.

In the Living Room

Ceiling fans with a light kit. There are exceptions to this rule and it’s the bedrooms. You absolutely can use a light kit with a ceiling fan in the bedroom, but just know it will make your walls feel shorter. I’m talking about the living room. We really love to use recessed, can lights and if you choose a ceiling fan for the center, skip the light kit. Use enough can lights to avoid needing it in the fan. Also consider table lamps and accent lighting.

In the Bedroom

Tiny bedside tables. In a day and age of Ikeas and Targets, you can get a nightstand for around $50. Unfortunately, it’s probably meant for a kids’ room. Your nightstand should comfortably fit a lamp, a clock and a decent-sized decorative item. You don’t have to use those, but it should be large enough to accommodate that. I like to go at least 30” wide especially if you have a king size bed. We used THESE bedside tables in our “Redeemed Reno”.

In the Hallways

The dreaded boob light. We call them boob lights because that’s exactly what they look like. These builder grade light fixtures can be found in the hallways and utility rooms. Opt instead for something like THIS or THIS. You’d be surprised what a difference this makes.

I hope you find this sort of information helpful. Are there any design pet peeves you guys have? Something you wish everyone would stop doing? Let me know in the comments below.


  1. Words to live by!! I will be CC’ing my hubby on these!

  2. Noreen Lindesmith says:

    Hi Susie,

    I’m new to your blog. Love it! I do have a question regarding your suggestions for hallway lights. Can you/should you use the same light in your foyer and your hallway? I only have 8’ ceilings in my foyer. Or would you suggest two different lights?


    • Susie Robb says:

      Hi Noreen.
      I think your foyer light should be different. If the ceilings are really short then you’ll have to opt for a flush mount fixture, but there are some beautiful ones out there. xo!

  3. Yessss, get rid of ALL the boob lights! The other thing I dislike is when people go too over the top with a theme or get too matchy matchy!

  4. Jennifer Stubblefield says:

    Love this!! I’m design challenged and these tips and tricks are great, especially since I’m currently reworking my living room. Thank you Susie!

  5. Susie Marino says:

    All good points to remember. Tk u

  6. Kim Ward says:

    Thank you! Your information is so helpful to someone like me that has no clue how to style anything!

  7. Sarah says:

    Love the new blog and your design tips!!!

  8. Ana says:

    Where is your top from?? Love it

  9. Jeanne says:

    why weren’t you in NC when I was decorating this new house

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