6 Common Mistakes Homeowners Make with their Furniture

There are a number of factors that go into a well decorated room with furniture being one of the key factors in that equation.    Furniture needs to be methodically selected and placed taking the room’s elements, focal point and design style in mind.  Violating any of these principles using furniture incorrectly can break a well planned design and make the room dysfunctional and feel off.

1. Lack of Harmony

Harmony in a room is when the elements of the room, like furniture, accessories, colors and fixed elements like flooring, cabinets, tiles etc work well together to create a room that visually looks appealing and works well together.


Selecting the right furniture for the room is one step in create a harmonious room. The furniture needs to reflect the style of the home, and the homeowners interior design style. 

In our home above, on the right, the homeowner doesn’t have a sense of their design style. The contemporary sofa and table competes with the oriental carpet, oversized traditional orange leather chair, and the traditional dining room set. The furniture is a miss mash and doesn’t flow together.

There are many different styles of interior design for your home, ranging from transitional or traditional, from contemporary & mid-century to boho and eclectic, just to name a few. Design styles can become popular for a few years only to fall out of favor just as quickly as they gained popularity.


Knowing what your style is important to help you not only create a home that you love and reflects your style and personality, but it will help create a home that is harmonious and flows from one room to another throughout the house.

2. Lack of Emphasis in a Room

Every room needs a focal point. The focal point is the star of the room. It sets the design mood for the room. It gives the eye a place to land when you first walk into the room. When a room doesn’t have any focal point, it lacks focus and your eye doesn’t know where to land.


Some focal points are natural as part of the home’s architecture like a stunning fireplace, windows, high vaulted ceilings or a drop dead gorgeous view. Those become your starting point when deciding what time of furniture, and the size of furniture that you should place in your room.

If you have no natural architectural feature, you can create a focal point with an accent wall, or stunning artwork. Both of those are easy to create a focal point in a room. In our photo above, there is a stunning view, but the picture above the bed creates a calming look where you can build your room design from the artwork as your inspirational piece and focal point.

Read: 5 Ways to Make a Focal Point in a Room

3. Furniture is matchy matchy

Some homeowners go to the big box stores and buy the 3 seater sofa, the love seat AND the matching chair.  To top it off, they will buy the coffee table and matching end tables that are on display with the couch set.  These pieces of furniture are all very nice, but when they’re ALL the same and you’re using them ALL together, your room looks more like an ad for a big box store than your family or living room where you want it to reflect your family’s personality and lifestyle.


In our photo above, the room looks nice but ordinary. The homeowner could have bought a smaller couch or two overstuffed chairs in a different color to replace the back couch that is front of the kitchen. Notice how the couch is longer than the wall?? Your furniture should NEVER be longer than a wall.


Photo: The Lily Pad Cottage

You need to mix it up a little. Instead of having all the furniture in the same fabric and style, add some accent chairs in a different color or fabric. Add accent pieces like a coffee table, end tables, rug, throw cushions etc in different colors and textures.

Buying all your furniture in the same style like a love seat, a three seater couch, the matching armchair plus the recommended coffee table & side tables makes your room look like an advertisement for a big box store. This gives your room zero personality and does not reflect your style and taste. There can be some great finds in big box stores without a designer price tag, but the secret in buying items from big box stores is to buy items that look like they came from a higher end furniture store, like a neutral 3 seater couch for example, and purchase accent chairs and tables from boutique stores that reflect your design personality.


One of the biggest challenges homeowners have when they decorate a room is that they don’t start with a plan. They buy a stunning piece of artwork they see on their travels and put it on their wall.  They like a beautiful wool rug they find for a steal at Home Sense so they lay it on the floor underneath Aunt Mary’s oversized hand-me-down couch that is a little frayed on the arms. Furniture and accessories accumulate overtime as they an add item that they like and purchase, or add gifts from well meaning family & friends. It becomes a bit of this and a bit of that.  The challenge for most of us is, this method ends up being a hodge podge of furniture and accessories. And when you step back and look at the room, it doesn’t look great. It feels off. Its not Instagram worthy.

When designing a new space, or even adding some elements to a space, its always a good idea to start off with a design plan, also called a design board or a mood board.

4. Too much or too little furniture in the room


I’ve been in hundreds of homes over the years and one of the biggest design mistakes homeowners make is that they have TOO MUCH FURNIUTRE in their room.

Homeowners that entertain alot or have big families tend to put way too much furniture in a room for the size of the room which we see in the photo above blocking hallways and traffic patterns.  It may suit their purposes of seating alot of people but the room looks stuffed full of furniture, and it actually makes the room look smaller than it actually is.

On the other hand, too little furniture makes a room look sparse and uninviting like the picture on our right. Two accent chairs or a small love seat opposite the sofa would create more of a conversation piece and fill the room. Also, the room is lacking accessories, a coffee table, and an area rug which makes the space feel cold.

Sometimes homeowners are using furniture that perhaps is a hand-me-down or was used in a different home or space and is still in good shape.  But just because your furniture is in good shape means doesn’t meant that you should be using it in the room.  Choosing the right furniture will help solve your seating problems and make your living or family room be warm and inviting.

5. Blocking traffic flow or a design element with furniture


In our home above, furniture is blocking the focal point of the room which is a big no no in design. You never, want to block your focal point or design feature.

In our picture, right, the homeowners have actually blocked the entrance to their family room with their oversized dining room furniture. lol.

The obvious solution is, of course, is to purchase a dining room table & chairs that allows one to walk around the furniture into the next room.

You should leave 24″ – 36″ walkway in a major traffic flow area clear of any furniture for people to walk through one room to another.  It is NEVER a good idea to block traffic flow. Different furniture and furniture layouts are better options than blocking traffic flow!

Choosing the right type and size of furniture for your room is crucial in creating a space that is not only functional, but one that you will enjoy and love with friends and family.

6. Ignoring Scale & Proportion in a room


The height and size of the furniture must not only co-ordinate each other, it must complement the elements of the room for a cohesive look.  In our picture above, the height of the couch is obviously out of proportion with the rest of the room. It is not only oversized for the size of the room, it blocks the flow of conversation from anyone sitting at the bay window, and it blocks the light from the window.

A question I frequently get asked if you can place furniture in front of a window, which you can. However, you want to make sure the height of the sofa or chairs, are low, and not blocking sunlight.

Furniture that is out of proportion to the size and shape of the room makes a room feel odd and off.

In the picture above, this room is violating multiple design principles. The low leather couch against the railing sandwiched between the two high back chairs, are out of proportion and makes the room feel unbalanced.

There are also too many different design styles to the furniture and one of the chairs is blocking the fireplace – the focal point in the room.  The furniture is a miss match of different styles and sizes because its lacking a design style.


Photo: HGTV

This room styled above by HGTV is perfect, of course. The focal point is the fireplace and the furniture is placed accordingly around the fireplace. The sectional is situated perfectly so you can either watch the fireplace & TV or talk to your guests on the either side of the room depending on where you sit on the sectional.

The two accent chairs are in a different fabric and color from the couch giving interest to the room. The chairs are situated in front of the walkout doors but are low enough that they don’t block the sunlight coming in from the windows and are far enough in front that give a person enough room to walk out to the patio outside. Notice the picture on the wall to the far left? It ties all the different colors of the furniture in the room together nicely.

The sofa table behind the sectional gives a place to put thing down when needed. It also stores two gorgeous ottomans that can be pulled out for additional seating when you have a larger crowd. The ceiling light’s and colors compliment the style of the room but doesn’t detract from the star of the room, the fireplace.

This room works successfully because the designer executed all the design and color principles perfectly giving

Breaking any of the above principles as it applies to your furniture, will leave your room feeling off balanced and unsettled.  Putting these principles into shape will give you a relaxing and cohesive space where you, your family and friends will enjoy for years to come.



You’re not happy with your current living room, bedroom or office. It’s dated.  It’s not working for your family anymore.

You have some ideas but you’re not sure where to start or how to pull it all together.  Some or all of the furniture needs replacing but you’re not sure what to replace and with what. Regardless, you just need a change and need some help and guidance.

Taking into consideration your design style, personal preferences and wishes for your room, you will receive:

  • you will receive 2 mood boards with my recommendations of furniture & accessories based on your photos & questionnaire that you sent me 
  • floor plan using the furniture & accessories as agreed upon and links to recommended furniture & accessories that you may purchase
  • paint color recommendation + trim based on questionnaire & furniture and accessories choices
  • recommended repairs/renovations of the room
  • unlimited messaging
  • you will receive a follow-up e-mail to go over any questions you may have.  Making sure you’re happy with your consult is important to me.

Check out my Room Makeovers e-design consult here


I help busy homeowners, just like you, to style their house to make it a stunning retreat, where they can live and enjoy their home. I help homeowners, make money beyond their wildest expectations from the sale of their house by guiding them when they’re getting their house ready to sell.

Hi! I’m Debi Collinson. Designer. Color Consultant & Real Estate Investor. 

I grew up looking at blue prints, going on construction sites and helping my dad, an Engineer|General Contractor and Co-Owner of a Design|Build|Engineering firm pick out paint colors for his buildings. Since 2006, I have been styling & staging hundreds of homes to make them look like they belong in a magazine page whether the client is styling to stay or staging to sell. 

In my spare time, LOL, I buy “fixer uppers” to fix up & either sell for a healthy profit or to rent. I’m currently looking for my 10th “fixer upper.” Sign up to receive my e-mails of how to make your home stunning, how to sell your house for top dollar AND how to become financially independent one fixer upper at a time! 

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *