Not a Home Decorator? Try These Pro Designer Hacks

Kimberly Bean
Kimberly Bean
Published on February 7, 2018

Ask a professional decorator, and they’ll tell you that they see the same decorating faux pas over and over again. It’s only natural! Those of us who don’t do it for a living are winging it.

One of the mistakes that novices most frequently make is not paying attention to scale. Specifically, some of the items we use to decorate our homes are far too small, according to Taryn Williford, lifestyle editor for Apartment Therapy.

Thankfully, she and other designers have a few hacks that can help the rest of us out.

Cover those walls

You may have noticed from your recent home shopping excursions that gallery walls are big with homeowners. Unfortunately, many are just mish-mashes of an odd assortment of photos or works of art.

There is an “art” to hanging art. Whether you want to hang a single, stunning piece or plan to cover the wall with a number of framed photos, Williford suggests that the art should take up slightly more than half of the wall (.57 to be exact).

“So, if you have an empty wall that’s 120 inches wide, you multiply that by .57 to find that your art should be roughly around 68 inches wide,” Williford explains.

For a gallery wall, measure all the frames together, “including the space in between.”

Other tips for hanging art include:

  • The center of the gallery or a solo piece of art should be 60 inches off the floor.
  • When hanging art above a sofa, the bottom of the frame should sit 6 to 8 inches above the top of the furniture.

Get additional tips on how to arrange your gallery wall at

Go big or don’t go there

Decorators see a lot of tiny accessories in the average home. It makes sense: “Big decor comes with a big price tag,” Williford says. The three most common too-small items we use are rugs, lighting, and art, she adds.

She claims that we should go no smaller than 8 feet by 10 feet with our living room rugs; the shades of our table lamps should be “tall enough that the bottom of the shade is at eye level” when we are seated next to it; and our artwork should measure at least half of the size of the wall on which it will be placed.

Too-long, too-short, or too-wide curtains are an easy fix. The correct length can be found by measuring the distance from the floor to the window casing (just above it). The right width is the same width as the window. Place the rod brackets six inches outside of the window frame, says Jennifer Wilson at

Watch the clutter

If you sold a home before buying this one, remember the advice to remove clutter? Just because you aren’t expecting potential buyers anymore doesn’t mean you should go back to your old ways.

Not every surface has to be covered with something. When it is, “nothing stands out as special,” Wilson says.

She suggests using only half the number of table-, mantle-, and shelf-top items you’d planned on using. To avoid making the room look too slick, make sure you use items you love.

“Add a few pieces that have a warm backstory, stack beloved books on the coffee table, or layer in some photos of the people you love,” Wilson says.

Fort Washington MD Homes for Sale and Real Estate Services in Southern Maryland. You now have a search engine to help you with your Southern Maryland home search! And I’m ready to provide you with a custom home valuation if you’re considering selling your home. Let’s connect to discuss how I can help you. Contact Kimberly Bean at 301-440-1309

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