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February 1, 2012

ATLANTA INTERIOR DESIGNER: 5 design mistakes to avoid...

Top 5 Design Mistakes every DIYer has made...

1. Hanging photos and/or artwork too high

This is one of my biggest designer pet peeves. I realize for every design project this could be different, especially when you have a really exquisite piece of art that you want to hang at eye level. However, as a general rule when hanging a piece or art or a mirror above another piece (sofa, console table, bed, etc) I think 8" is about perfect. Having too much negative space between your floored piece & wall piece can be distracting and create some not-so-good harmony. Scale is also very important, check out this website for some great advice on hanging art.

Bad :(


2. Purchasing without a plan

Often times consumers get excited and start purchasing because they really love this shade or purple, because 'it's on sale, or because they can easily redo this antique chair'... After getting it home you realize this purple chair goes with nothing else I had in mind or that antique chair is too small in comparison to everything else in the space. My best advice is to stop, breathe, and allow time for the design process. Having an entire plan for you room, and then purchasing over time is much better than rushing or buying individual pieces without a grand plan of what you want your space to look & feel like. This will save you big bucks...

3. Bad lighting

Lighting is one of the most important, yet most neglected principles in design. Try to incorporate a good variety of the three basic types of lighting.

-Task Lighting: Helping you perform 'tasks' such as reading, cooking, or homework. This comes in the form of desk lamps, under the cabinet lights, or floor lamps.

-Ambient Lighting: General light that illuminates the room or space as a whole. Ambient lighting usually comes in the form of wall or ceiling mounts.

-Accent Lighting: Adds drama and visual interest to a space. Think about drawing the eye to a focal point such as live plants, special piece of art, or the texture of a stone wall. This lighting should be 3 times as bright as your ambient lighting to be effective.

4. Painting first

If you are wanting to provide a quick update, painting can be an inexpensive fix to a dull room. However, when planning to re-decorate or begin a room paint is last.  There are just about as many paint colors as there are blades of grass. I promise it's much easier completing your furniture and accents and then choosing a great color to highlight these, rather than starting with butter yellow and then trying to create a room around it.

5. Getting advice from the wrong people

Such as your bestie, your neighbor, or the cable guy. I know you may trust their opinion on many things, but your home might not be one of them. I say this because they don't live like you live, feel how you feel, and just might not be qualified to give you the correct answers. Often times your friend or neighbor can give you advice as it would relate to them, not you and your family. I have seen it many times...client brings their bff shopping with them and then finds it really difficult to say no to them. Sometimes it can make you second guess your great ideas & feel insecure about your own home. I promise there are affordable ways to get professional design advice. Visit my Ava Living page if you have some questions of your own!

Happy Designing!


  1. Hi Heather,
    I like to work out, but my home is small and I don't have a room I can set asside just for my execise equipment. Do you have any suggestions for how I can incorporate my passion for staying in shape with my desire to not have my home start to resemble the local gym?

    1. Hi Tony,
      Thanks for the comment! Home gyms can be tricky if you do not have the space for them.

      - Try using a stylish piece of furniture, amoire, or chest that has adequate storage for free weights, bands, or videos (p90x, yoga, etc). Using a space that already houses a tv is probably helpful.

      - If necessary, use a room that is out of the main living area- a spare bedroom, office, or garage where you can get to work out of the way. Your 'hidden gem' so to speak...

      -I know ther are plenty of "fold away" gyms that store easily in closets or under the bed. Assuming this would benefit your work out routine, one of these might be worth some thoughts.

      I hope these tips are helpful! Check out my Avaliving page ( if you would like more personal help for your home gym. There you can upload photos of your space, dimensions, and tell me more about the equipment you want to incorporate so I can provide more than generic answers!

      Good luck & Happy Designing!

  2. Great post. Always helpful!! I had a question about the art hanging. I saw the website you suggested. It had a lot of great ideas. But it talked about art and furniture. What if the art itself is what you want to display. Like on a bare wall. And what if your ceilings are over 8 feet. Do you have any examples or ideas on hanging art for art sake?

    1. Hi Nick,
      Great question! If you are hanging a piece of art on a blank wall, the general rule is to have the CENTER of the piece between 57" - 63" from the ground. This is the range for the average "eye level" and is used as a standard for many museums and art galleries. You can adjust this as necessary to whom is living there!

      I also try to keep the piece below moldings (tops of doors, windows, etc.) so it doesnt look like it's hung too high. BUT, this can completely depend on the wall, room, etc.

      If you need a more personalized answer for your project, visit my Ava Living page( where you can upload a photo & include the dimensions of your art and wall so I can help you put it together perfectly!

      Happy Designing!