7 Design Mistakes To Avoid (Or Correct) In Your Home

arranging furniture

In my experience, arranging furniture (and interior design on the whole) is a lot like drawing. If you took an experienced artist and someone with no art experience and sat them down in front of a bowl of fruit, then asked them both to draw it, the experienced artist would probably use shading, perspective, and other skills to produce a faithful recreation.

The amateur, on the other hand, would likely struggle to do the same because they don’t have the same understanding of the fundamentals that go into drawing. Despite working from the exact same source material as the artist, the amateur’s drawing would look… well, amateurish in comparison!

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decor mistakes

I think this is a useful metaphor when thinking about interior design, because it helps explain why us non-designers often struggle to recreate designs or styles we see in magazines or on TV. Without an understanding of the principles that go into designing a space or arranging furniture, it can be very hard to recreate at home!

That’s why in today’s blog post, I want to explore some of the most common mistakes that us non-designers make when arranging our furniture. You’ll not only leave this post with a better understanding of design principles, but you’ll feel more confident about applying them successfully at home!

7 Mistakes You Make When Arranging Furniture

decor mistakes

1. Thinking Narrowly

When selecting and arranging furniture in any room, it’s important to consider how you plan to use that room, both on average days and on special occasions. If you like having friends or family over for game nights, you can plan for that by supplementing your larger furniture with ottomans, poufs, and other versatile pieces you can move around to provide additional seating.

Thinking broadly when arranging your furniture will help you create spaces that aren’t just visually pleasing, but functional too.

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2. Ignoring Light Fixtures

If you’re arranging or rearranging furniture in a room with a large light fixture, the worst thing you can do is ignore it. In the dining room, for instance, dining tables look best when centered under the light fixture.

If you can’t move the furniture for some reason, you may have to hire an electrician to relocate the wiring so your light hangs in the right spot. (Another viable option, as long as you have a chandelier with a long chain, is to use a ceiling hook to swag the chain so that it hangs where you want it to without relocating the wiring.)

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3. Not Planning Focal Points

The main seat or seating in any room should have a “view” or focal point. Without one, the seating may not actually be a functional addition to the space.

Fireplaces and TVs are obvious candidates to use as focal point, but what about rooms that don’t have either? Windows work well, or you could even center your furniture around an opening into another room. (If your only option is a blank wall, create your own focal point with a bookcase or a gallery wall!)

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4. Ignoring Traffic Flow

If you don’t consider how traffic will flow through the room when you’re arranging your furniture, the room could end up feeling more like an obstacle course! Make sure to keep traffic flow in mind as you decide where your furniture pieces should go so you can facilitate movement through the room, rather than impede it.

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5. Blocking Windows

Windows bring natural light into a room, and the fewer windows a room has, the more important they in preventing the space from feeling dark or claustrophobic. Avoid blocking windows with furniture to allow as much natural light into the room as possible.

If you simply can’t avoid placing furniture in front of a window for some reason, bringing mirrors into the room will help bounce the light sources and brighten up your space.

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6. Sticking To The Walls

In a smaller room, it makes sense to place furniture along the walls to make the most of the space. But in larger rooms and open-plan areas, only placing furniture along the walls won’t help you make the most of the space!

Instead, you can break up a large area and utilize the space more effectively by grouping your furniture into two or more separate clusters. Don’t be afraid to “float” some of your furniture in the middle of the room!

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7. Breaking Rug Rules

Picking out the right area rug for a space can be a lot trickier than it sounds! One of the most important rug “rules” to keep in mind when deciding where to put one is that all the legs of your furniture should rest on it.

If that’s not possible for whatever reason, at least try to place it so that the front legs of your furniture are resting on the rug.

Do you have a favorite tip or trick for arranging furniture?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Bright Ideas

  • Jillee I was wondering why you have the ‘corner couch’ in front of the window instead of the chair and ottoman. You might get more lighting and you might only have to the the back of the couch where the chair is. (of course with the corner of the back of the couch shifted to the left

  • Per your traffic flow idea: Make sure there isn’t a major walk through in front of the TV. The sectional in your photo moves folks around the seating area instead of through it.
    Lately it’s become a trend to put TVs above fireplace mantles. That can work only if your TV is a considerable distance from the seats. Otherwise you’re tilting your head back uncomfortably to watch TV.
    Lastly, about rugs: I’ve had area rugs in sitting areas for years and years and am now bucking that trend. I have beautiful wood floors and so decided to skip using area rugs. Cold floor? Wear slippers. My rooms are not large or extra large, however. In jumbo spaces where coziness is lacking, I would probably still use an area rug.

  • I try to have my living room furniture facing “each other”, so you can sit on the sofa and talk to the person in the wing chair. FWIW, I heartily dislike coffee tables. My sister gave me an antique cedar chest, which I put behind the sofa; when we have a houseful of company I can sit there and be part of the conversation, but still able to hop up if I’m needed in the kitchen or something.

  • I came to this page to see decorating ideas. Instead I was hit in the face with Donald Trump ad. Not sure I want to risk opening the articles offered in my daily email from Jillee anymore.

  • I never thought about a lot of these things! I’ve lightened up the walls with light colors to make my rooms appear larger. Now it’s time to rearrange! Thanks bunches!

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