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Posted by Linda Merrill | May 12, 2010

Common DIY Interior Design Mistakes

Budgeting, scale and color selection are all areas with pitfall potential.

A home decorating and design project is very exciting to undertake. There are so many pretty images to browse for inspiration, fabrics to finger and ceramic tiles to select. But along with all the pretty parts is a lot of potential for error. And in interior design, errors can be costly in terms of money, time and final results. A few home decorating tips will reveal the most common errors of the DIY designer.

Under-Budgeting

Typically, a renovation or decoration project will take longer and cost more than you imagined at the outset. I had a client prospect call me in once to work with her on her new home. This was a very high-end new construction that had cost nearly $900K. Before they called me in, they had already done some shopping at a local mid-priced furniture store and had already spent nearly $10K. Her verbal wish list of what needed to be done was long: She had a lot of big plans. However, when the clients really sat down to talk budget, they realized they had allocated less than $20K, and by then had already spent $10K. At that point, they had no window coverings anywhere in the home. All the windows were odd sizes and would require custom treatments, which could have easily run $20K on that one line item. It was simply bad planning.

Lack of realistic budgeting can sink a great-looking project. And it's not really all that hard. A useful home decorating tip is to set up a simple spreadsheet and make a detailed list of everything you are thinking of doing in a project. For instance: sofa, rug, 2 lamps, 3 side chars, 4 table lamps, etc. Web searches will reveal the rough actual costs of each of these items. Add a column for cost and enter the rough cost of each line item. Just this simple process alone will help you prioritize what you are going to do and when you can do it. And don't forget about extra costs like tax and shipping.

Scale

When you are shopping for furniture, keep in mind that most stores are large and have very high ceilings. In that context, most furniture looks small. But most of our homes are not all that big and the ceilings are not all that high. A big mistake that a lot of homeowners make is to purchase furniture that is simply too big for the space. The result can be furniture that is oddly placed and crowded. Any list of home decorating tips will point out the importance of a simple floor plan drawing - to scale. It will help you focus on the size issue. Knowing how much space is available between windows or doors, how the door swings and the like is very important. Most office supply stores carry some form of floor planner or software, along with home decorating tips, that you can use to make planning easier.

Color & Light

Always, always select colors in the space where the color will live. Store lighting is not at all the same type of lighting we have in our homes, and fluorescent lighting and incandescent lighting make the same color look completely different. This is true of any color selection, from fabrics to paints. The way we see color changes with the light, so utilize these home decorating tips and check out your choices in both daytime and evening lighting. You may be shocked at how different the same colors can look in daytime sunlight and nighttime table lamps.

Of all the home decorating tips available, I think these three items are the most important. Prepare for your project by establishing a realistic budget for the work you are looking to accomplish, pay attention to the scale of your furnishings, and never make a decision about color without seeing it first in the actual space it is intended for. Pay attention to these three elements and you'll be well on your way to a lovely new space.

Before you even start to look at prices, figure out what style you're going for. After that, check online for ideas. If you're not confident that you can manage your interior design project yourself, take on a professional.

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