Are You Making These Living Room Design Mistakes?

Stacy Randall
by Stacy Randall

Do you look around your living room and get the feeling that something isn’t quite right when it comes to the design? Sure, you’d love to hire a professional designer to create the space of your dreams, but your budget has other plans. Instead, see if you’re making these design mistakes in your living room.

Common living room design mistakes include not using a rug or using a rug that’s too small, not having enough lighting, and having too much clutter. All matching furniture, disproportional pieces, and poorly chosen window treatments also make a design fall flat. Over-accessorizing, confusing focal points, and blocking natural light are other mistakes people often make in their living rooms.

Sometimes, your design choices don’t always work out. Maybe you decorated in a hurry, or you couldn’t decide what to do, so you did whatever was easiest at the moment. Or perhaps the room is a hodge-podge of hand-me-downs and relics from the past.

It’s okay, everyone makes mistakes. Check out these living room design mishaps to see if they’re the factors throwing off your room’s look.

It’s Time To Fix Your Living Room Design Mistakes

Scroll through this list of common mistakes people make in designing their living rooms to see if you’re guilty of any of them. If you find a few that hit home, don’t fret. Now that you know, you can do what needs to be done to fix the problem. Pretty soon, you’ll have the living room design you truly want.

1. There’s No Rug (Or It’s The Wrong Size)

Using a rug grounds the space and helps tie things together. It’s also helpful as a way to define specific areas and zones. Not using a rug inevitably leads to a design that comes up a little short.

However, using a rug that’s too small is even worse than skipping the rug. It throws off the whole balance of the room. Your rug should be large enough to fit under the entire seating area or zone. At a minimum, the front legs of each piece of furniture should land on the rug.

2. You Went With The All-Matching Furniture Set

Living rooms are a common place where you see the typical all-matching furniture set. You know the look. It’s the one that seems like you simply took everything off the showroom floor and plopped it down in your house.

A matching set might guarantee all your pieces go together, but it tends to look pretty bland and one-note. It doesn’t give you a chance to showcase your unique style. Instead, mix and match pieces and source items from various places, like a vintage shop, the local flea market, or heirloom pieces.

3. The Proportions Are Off

Don’t use furniture that isn’t a good fit for your living room. If it’s too large, it becomes overpowering and makes the room feel cramped. However, using pieces that are too small, tends to make a room look lifeless and barren.

The same rule applies to accessories and artwork. Choose items that fit the scale of the room, so the design is balanced and pleasing to the eye.

4. Too Many Things Are Happening At Once

Living rooms often serve multiple functions. They’re places to gather with friends, host a movie night, or play games. Many living rooms double as playrooms or a home office. But if you try to design for every little thing you use the room for, it’s going to look confusing and cluttered.

Narrow down your living room’s function to one main purpose and design for that. This doesn’t mean you can’t do other things in the space, but it will provide a more cohesive feel in your home.

5. You’re Not Taking Advantage Of Natural Light

If you have windows in the living room that let in lots of natural light, embrace them. Don’t cover them up with heavy black-out drapes or shades.

Instead, use window treatments that allow you to let in the light. If you want to make things dark on occasion, make sure to get drapes you can easily open and close. Hang sheer or semi-sheer curtains if privacy is a priority.

6. Too Much Artwork On The Walls

Does your living room look more like an art gallery than a home? Artwork on the walls is an important part of your design, but you can have too much of a good thing.

Make sure to leave some empty wall space around the artwork to give the eyes a break. If you have a gallery wall, there should be space around and between each picture and around the entire gallery display.

7. Sad Window Treatments

Choosing the right window treatments makes a big difference in your design’s overall feel. If you opt for flimsy panels or things like vertical blinds or cheap mini-blinds, the space can look more dorm room than happy home.

Splurge a little on your window treatments and you’ll instantly elevate the whole look and feel of your living room. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars, but be thoughtful with the pieces you choose. For example, layering window treatments is an easy way to make your home look more expensive without breaking the bank on custom drapery.

8. Poor Lighting

Lighting is a critical component in any design, but many people often overlook it when designing their spaces. Are you sticking to one single, boring light on the ceiling, or maybe a floor lamp or a couple of table lamps?

Install a statement light fixture as your overhead lighting. Carefully curate lamps around the space to supply adequate task lighting. Consider installing wall sconces, picture lights, and accent lighting in places that make sense and help set different moods in the space.

9. The Television Is Everything

Many people spend a lot of time watching television in their living room. However, don’t make the TV the primary focus of your design. Choose another focal point that you can center your design around, perhaps a gorgeous fireplace or a stunning view outside.

If the TV is the only thing in the room that makes sense as a focal point, elevate it. Frame it out or install a sliding artwork panel in front of it. Or hang interesting art pieces around it to make your design about more than just a big black rectangle.

10. Inadequate Storage

Clutter is a design mistake in every room. If there’s too much stuff piling up in the living room, it’s likely due to one of two reasons. You have too many things or not enough storage. For many people, it’s usually a combination of these two factors.

Make sure to have adequate storage in your living room for the things that live there and get rid of excess stuff. If the space doubles as a playroom, utilize drawers or decorative bins and baskets for toys. Source furniture that includes storage, maximize a nearby closet and spend a few minutes each evening putting things where they belong.

Right Your Design Wrongs And Love Your Living Room

If you’re looking around your living room saying, “Oops! I did that, too,” you’re likely not the only one. These design mistakes happen often, but the bright side is, they’re easy to fix. A little rearranging, paring down, adding storage, and swapping out window treatments make a drastic difference in your space.

Take things one step at a time, reassessing your living room after each change to see how it transforms the overall design. If you’re not sure, snap a photo and look at it through the eyes of the camera. Ask a style-savvy friend to give you their honest feedback.

After making a few changes, you can confidently say you learned from your mistakes. And you’ll have a more beautiful and functional living room to show for it.

Related Guides:

Stacy Randall
Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent's former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.

More by Stacy Randall