Are you guilty of these top 10 home decorating mistakes?

Jul 3, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. ET
Image: Getty Images

Sometimes knowing what not to do is easier than trying to figure out all the right things you should be doing. Let these design experts help you save time and embarrassment by alerting you to the most common decorating errors.

Mistake #1: Using contoured toilet rugs

Think about it. Everything (everything) that drips, splashes or leaks from the toilet will be absorbed by this perfectly contoured piece of carpet. And that is not a good thing.

pink contoured toilet rug

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Easy fix: Select a rug that sits away from the base of the toilet. This Miami bathroom features a contemporary rug that pulls the room together without serving as a germ collector:

Image: Houzz

Mistake #2: Mistaking your home's identity

Have you considered your home's architecture and the surrounding environment? A beachy, cottage theme doesn't belong in a log cabin in the mountains. And rustic, woodsy decor just doesn't look right in a contemporary city loft.

deer and rifles on wall

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Easy fix: Rather than overdoing a room theme, consider adding just a few accents that satisfy your obsession without looking out of place. An open display of firewood doesn't detract from the transitional vibe of this London living room:

Image: Houzz

Mistake #3: Displaying too many photos

Your home's artwork and decor should not be 100 percent devoted to framed photos. Displaying too many pictures creates clutter and takes away from those really special prints you want people to notice.

fireplace photos

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Easy fix: Store the bulk of your photos in albums on a bookshelf. Display just your favorite pics on a dedicated gallery wall. Keep one element consistent (all black-and-white photos or all black frames or all the same size) for a clean look.

Image: Houzz

Mistake #4: Hanging wall objects too high

When hanging wall art, be careful not to hang it too high. You and your guests should not have to look up to appreciate it.

woman hanging wall art

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Easy fix: Shoot for eye level (higher if you're really short, lower if you're really tall). Here, a portrait of Major Novogratz, son of the famous NYC designers, hangs at the ideal height to make it the focal point of the wall.

Image: Houzz

Mistake #5: Decorating with things you don't like

Not everyone's tastes are the same, which can make it difficult to buy home decor items as gifts. If you've been on the receiving end of something you just don't love, don't feel compelled to give it a place of honor in your home.

rubber duck cuckoo clock

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Easy fix: Prominently display things that you love, things with a history. Your visitors will be so drawn to the eye-catching items and the stories behind them that they'll forget about looking for that "thing" they gave to you as a gift.

Image: Houzz

Mistake #6: Not furnishing rooms to scale

Furniture that looks "just right" in the store may look ridiculous in your home. Perhaps you've purchased a sofa that's way too big or a kitchen table that is entirely too small.

Alice in Wonderland giant

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Easy fix: Measure before you buy. Consider every dimension a piece of furniture has: length, width, height, depth. Keep in mind all of the doorways, hallways, walkways, windows and walls you're dealing with. And always make sure whatever you bring home can fit through the front door.

Image: Houzz

Mistake #7: Being impractical

You want your home to look nice, but you also want it to be livable. Perhaps you inherited Great-Grandmother's giant antique dining room set, or you want to replicate that stunning white fabric living room suit you spotted on HGTV. But what really makes sense for your family?

white living room furniture

Image: Getty Images

Easy fix: Forget formal and fancy. Think about the kids, the dog and your messy scrapbooking hobby and find durable, stain-resistant pieces that can serve double-duty, like a sofa that converts to a bed or an ottoman with plenty of storage room.

Image: Houzz

Mistake #8: Overdoing overhead lighting

Most ceiling fixtures are high-wattage and highly unflattering. Rarely do you need or want to light up a space so brightly.

overhead fluorescent light

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Easy fix: Add a dimmer. Better yet, add other sources of light, such as table lamps, floor lamps and wall sconces. Take advantage of the natural light that flows through the window. And think about how the room will be used and where light is most needed.

Image: Houzz

Mistake #9: Being too matchy

In the 1980s, everything matched. Drapes matched sofa upholstery, which matched bedding, which matched bath towels, which matched kitchen canisters. Coffee tables and end tables were sold in sets, so all accent pieces were the same wood. But that was then, and this is now.

1980s bedroom

Image: Getty Images

Easy fix: The quickest way to update your decor is to un-match it. And you can do it without spending a cent. Use a living room end table in the bedroom, and a nightstand in the family room. Mix different shades of wood finishes with other textures, like metal or glass. Tie everything together with an underlying palette that boasts fun accent colors.

Image: Houzz

Mistake #10: Relying too much on lists like this

Tips like these will help you avoid common "mistakes," but they're not rules to live by. Discover your own sense of style as you experiment. Finding it may take some time, and it will continue to evolve as the years go by. Trust your instincts. Be confident about your design decisions. And create a home that feels "right" to you.

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