ugly room

Biggest Interior Design Mistakes to Avoid


When it comes to decorating our houses or apartments, many of us are completely lost. We can follow the catalogues of Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, or Ikea, or get inspired by our favorite Pinterest boards, but everyone wants to be somewhat unique, and make the best of what they have.

It may be confusing where to start, but according to interior design expert, celeb favorite, and boutique furniture store owner Jennifer Van Galder, there are some big no-no’s when it comes to arranging furniture and putting together the places we call home.

For over two decades, Van Galder has owned the furniture design boutique Maudlinsituated in San Diego, CA, in the tony neighborhood of  La Jolla. One of the original “Doublemint Twins”, Van Galder has proffered her design help to professional athletes, heads of Fortune 500 companies, and Hollywood celebrities such as Heidi Klum, Giselle Bunchen, Natalie Portman, and Nicole Richie.

Van Galder’s clients have sought her out for her timeless and inspired design ideas and easy to achieve looks. She offers creative options for both fellow interior designers and the average lovers of home decor.

Van Galder’s 5 Biggest Interior Design Mistakes and Blunders to Steer Clear Of:

1. Matching furniture. Furniture companies are notorious for spoon feeding innocent homeowners specials on suites of furniture–the sofa and chair sets, dining sets with table and chairs, and added sideboards…You get the picture. Please, please don’t have matchy-matchy furniture in your lives. Also, don’t let some furniture store owner tell you what pieces would look good with each other. Use your own style, flair, and taste to assemble a grouping of furniture unique to YOU!

2. Same tones of wood. If I walk into another house and see all medium brown furniture I think I will be ill. Don’t let the brown bomb go off in your home. If you think you are really cool and progressive and are buying into the Swedish/Belgian look (made famous by Restoration Hardware) you are mistaken. Mixing various tones of wood in your home with painted pieces gives an eclectic and rich appearance. Having said all that, please understand that a room, assembled all in one tone, done correctly (cleverly diversifying weights, sheens, and tones) achieves a wonderful layered look.

3. Poorly painted or scuffed up walls. Paint is one of the easiest and most immediate design fixes. Some of the most well-designed and appointed homes I see are ruined by poor paint jobs or old paint. I give my clients a mason jar of the paint paint used in each room, and a supply of brushes in various sizes. I encourage them to keep their walls fresh and scuff-free with minor touches-ups as needed.  Trust me, I know this is a lot to ask, and as the mother of three boys, I am constantly touching up paint. Important to note, the color of paint is as essential as keeping it fresh. Before making a commitment, spend the time with lots of samples to get the color right for each room and each wall.

4. The three foot problem. I am sure you’re asking yourself what the heck this means… Most furniture is approximately three feet in height, and too many folks fill a room with furnishings all at the same height. Balancing a room with high and low pieces breaks up the three foot issue. Armoires, window treatments, and plants all add highs, while benches, stools, bowls, fabulous flooring, and rugs all add lows. Together these height differences form something in the middle, and create a perspective and depth to every room.

5. Poorly placed window coverings. Please note that a drapery rod or window shade should not be hung at the top of a window frame. It is horrible to see window treatments perched just above the frame of a window, when there’s a vast amount of space to the ceiling. It is also sad to see drapery rodding cut too narrowly. Narrow rods cause fabric to stack on glass which cuts light in a room. Widening and lengthening window treatments makes a window seem more important and grand. Don’t be guilty of minimizing your light, views, or focal points.

Simply put–mix it up, paint it up, lift and widen it up, and I promise you will have a transformed home!