11 Common Living Room Fails and How to Fix them

Are you making these decorating mistakes in your living room? Here are the most common mistakes that I see in living rooms. And a few easy ways to fix them.

I have made these same mistakes myself.

1. No Space Planning

space planning design tool for living room

The first decorating mistake has to do with space planning. The mistake is not doing it. 

There are easy FREE electronic tools that help with space planning. You can also do it on paper (using this PDF that has all the furniture you can cut out). 

Often, a lot of us just move into our homes or apartments and put the furniture exactly where the person before us did. We don’t think through the best way to use the space. I have made this mistake myself. 

I put my furniture exactly where the person that lived in my house prior did. As I started learning and experimenting more, I realized it was not the best layout for the furniture. The layout worked better for my living room as I started moving things. 

As a result, I’m much happier with my living room. If you want to look at how to use these tools, I have another article about how to use space planning tools, and you can even plan on paper.

2. Wrong Sized-Rug

small living room rug

The second decorating mistake has to do with rugs. More specifically, not getting a rug that is big enough. If you get a rug that is too small, you can tell. 

Make sure that all of your furniture has at least the front legs on the rug. If you have a rug that you love that is too small, it doesn’t mean you have to get rid of it. You might need to layer a larger rug underneath it to make the space feel more cozy. Layering rugs is an easy design trick so it does not look like you bought a rug that’s too small.

3. No Color Plan

The next decorating mistake has to do with color. A lot of people start decorating their living rooms without thinking intentionally about the color palette. 

There are easy ways to set the color palette. I’ve have a lot of articles and tips about hacks to choose your colors. You can save time and money if you choose your colors before you start shopping for stuff in your living room. If you have things that don’t go with that palette you decide on, gradually over time swap those items out. If you don’t pick a color palette, your room tends to feel less pulled together.

whole home color palette example 2
No Color Plan Here

4. Outdated Lighting

The next decorating mistake is really two mistakes about lighting. 

The first is that you haven’t updated your lighting. You’ve seen the outdated boob lights. It’s worth it to get an updated fixture or some updated lamps for your living room. It can make a huge difference. 

outdated lighting as decorating mistake

5. Not Enough Lighting

The second mistake with lighting is that you don’t have enough of it. Every room needs three kinds of light: ambient light, task light, and accent lights. 

Ambient lights are the ones in the ceiling. Task lights are lamps that you might use to read. Accent lights add a lot of mood to your living room. Hang accent lights over a picture or sconces beside your fireplace. Try to make sure that your room has at least three sources of light.

living room lighting with three types of light sources labeled

6. Artwork Hung Too High

Next, we’re going to think about accessories a little bit more. The next decorating mistake is with artwork, specifically hanging your artwork too high or too spread out. You want the center of your artwork to be at eye level. You don’t want it to be hanging way above your eye level. 

If you have your artwork hanging above a piece of furniture like a credenza or a couch, the artwork should be anchored to the furniture. It shouldn’t look like it’s floating in space above the couch. Try to keep your artwork with the center around your eye level.

7. No Closed Storage

For number seven, we’re going to explore clutter. Another mistake I see a lot of in living rooms is that you don’t have any closed storage. 

Everybody loves a little bit of open shelving to display things, but here becomes the problem. We all have a lot of stuff. Some of that stuff needs a place to go that’s behind closed doors or inside of a basket to be hidden.

If you have everything out, it tends to make your living room look more cluttered and less pulled together. Try to get some closed storage options in your living room.

DIY Built in Bookshelf

8. No Plants

The next mistake is you don’t have anything green in your living room. You don’t have to have a green thumb (because I definitely don’t) to have a plant in your living room. It can add a lot of life to your space. 

If you’re bad with plants like me, you can get a low maintenance houseplant. Try getting a snake plant or a pathos. Those are, I would say, practically impossible to kill. If you do kill them, they’re inexpensive to replace.

9. Outdated Window Treatments

The next mistake is not updating your window treatments. You may live in a place where you don’t even need window treatments. If you love not using window treatments, great. If you do need window treatments for privacy, get some updated ones that complement your color palette. You can use window shades, curtains, or a combination of the two. 

too short curtains

10. Wrong Size Curtains

Another mistake I see is that people get curtains that are not the right length for their windows. You want the curtains to be hung above the windows and outside of the windows. This makes your windows look bigger. Here is a curtain size calculator.

drop cloth curtain tutorial

11. Function Not Considered

We don’t consider the function of our living room and that is a mistake. The function of your living room might be 100% to watch TV. In this case, you want your living room to be set up where the TV is the focal point. 

Most of the time, we need our living rooms to also serve as places where we can have conversation and watch TV. Consider the layout of the living room to support both activities. (Back to space planning mistake #1.) Set up your furniture in a way that’s conducive to conversation.

Ready to move on to another room in the house? Are you making bedroom decorating mistakes?

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