Before embarking on a home décor mission, know the biggest mistakes you can make

Home decorating on a budget is quite a challenge. You stretch the budget until the eagle grins even as you try to highlight your home’s great assets. DIY home decor is an option for the artistically inclined hobbyist, but not everyone has the time or talent to turn scraps into wow. Cheap home decor is plentiful at dollar stores, hardware stores and even the supermarket. It is there that thrift meets five common decorating mistakes.

Know what they are and how to avoid making them!

1. Everything Matches (just like on Sesame Street)

Do you remember the Sesame Street matching games? If this adherence to matching a color, shade or style has spilled over into your home decorating, it is time to shake things up. It is very boring to look at a perfectly matched room.

General rule of thumb: Match a theme rather than a color or style. For example, rather than keeping entire rooms in beige tones, go for a seaside theme with your big display of beige seashells prominently featured in a cabinet. From there, add some DIY home decor, buy beach-themed lamps, paint in coral hues and hang seascapes.

2. Hanging Pictures too High

If you are a regular discount store shopper, you know that occasionally they get in loads of artwork at cut-rate prices. Although some of the seascapes are a bit gaudy, there are also real treasures among them. This type of cheap home decor thrives on proper display at home. Unfortunately, far too many of us hang a picture too high, which throws the room’s balance off kilter.

General rule of thumb: The middle of any picture should be at eye level. If the room is small and the viewer will see the picture chiefly while seated, hang it with its center three inches below eye level.

3. Forcing Picture Symmetry

Let’s say you lucked out and bought quite a few picture frames that match in design but not shape or size. You plan to make a nifty-looking arrangement and memorialize your black and white summer vacation shots. Great! So why does your wall display look, well, odd? The answer is simple: symmetry.

General rule of thumb: Rather than forcing small frames of different sizes to hang harmonically in symmetry, revel in an asymmetrical display that balances the sizes of the frames but does not adhere to an invisible plumb line. The center of this hanging frame display should be at eye level.

4. Dusty Potpourri

One of the huge home decorating mistakes, dusty potpourri starts as a big bag of cheap home decor and an attractive bowl. After two weeks, the smell of the dried leaves or flower bits is a distant memory. After three weeks, dust accumulates on the potpourri. After four weeks, you may notice some cobwebs in it.

General room of thumb: Unless you can commit to replacing potpourri biweekly, do not buy it. Replace the bowl with a display of candles or a nice figurine of a bucking horse.

5. Ill-fitting Sofa or Chair Covers

When doing your home decorating on a budget, you want to keep your big furniture items looking nice. Our moms used tacky see-through couch and chair covers. You remember them: legs would stick to the plastic and every time you moved, the material would make rude noises. Cloth covers are a definite step up but if you use one that does not fit, you might as well go back to the plastic covers.

General rule of thumb: Washable throws and inexpensive throw pillows are a better choice than sofa or chair covers. Unless you find a cover that fits perfectly, do not use it.

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