When Trendy Spells Trouble: Little Fixes for Your Best Decorating Efforts

You follow the trends. You have good design sense. Then, why do your best intentions at decorating your house sometimes fall flat?

Whether you’re sprucing up your home so you can put it on the market or simply want to keep it looking its best for your family and friends to enjoy, it can be disappointing when the results aren’t what you expected.

Here are fixes for four decorating ideas that should have looked great—but didn’t quite work out:

1. Dark gray walls.

All those dark indigos, gunmetal grays and even black paint colors seemed so chic as an accent wall on HGTV, but now your master is looking a bit too dark and gloomy. If you’re starting to feel like your private oasis has become a gloomy dungeon, your problem may not be your trendy paint, but rather your lighting and other décor.

Opt for lighting at different levels, including ceiling, floor lamps and tabletop lamps. De-clutter your space to open it up. Then, instead of decorating with soft matching grays, opt for something with more contrast. Accenting with bright and contrasting shades, from mustard to teal to mint, look fantastic with grey and will brighten up the space. White accents are another great way to add contrast and light.

2. Those white sofas.

There’s no getting around it. White or light-colored sofas do look incredible in most living rooms. That realization is probably what drove you to buy yours. Unfortunately, you momentarily forgot about your pets and children. There’s no getting around it—those white sofas are going to need more maintenance than their beige brethren.

Start anew with a clean slate by having the sofa professionally cleaned and then stain-proofed. Keep in mind, however, that stain-proofing isn’t going to work 100% of the time. Hedge by adding a throw, casually draped across the sofa, as well as some throw pillows. These can help as the first line of defense against daily grime and spills. Get in the habit of vacuuming the upholstery frequently, always ensure your attachment is spotless.

3. Cluttered open shelving.

Whether in your kitchen or elsewhere, open shelves are a great way to display favorite items and add interest to an otherwise empty wall. But when you try to put too much on those shelves, without considering how they are arranged, the result is a hodge-podge mess rather than the sophisticated display you envisioned. Clear every item off the shelter, one at a time, sorting into “yes” and “no” piles. You don’t have to throw away the items you don’t select; they just don’t have a place on the shelves.

When you put your items back on the shelves, think about how that placement looks as part of an overall effect. Don’t automatically stand books up, spine out. Lie some flat on the shelf and even set something on top of them. Think about the colors as well. If you have a lot of white or light-colored items, consider painting the background of the shelving black or other dark color to really make them pop.

4. Your guests aren’t sitting in your living room.

You’ve chosen the perfect chic furniture, you’ve used all the correct colors and just the right lighting. But somehow, your living room just doesn’t appeal to guests.

Remember that aunt you used to visit as a child, who had the living room you were never allowed to enter? In fact, adults didn’t enter it, either. It just stood there in all its perfection, like a museum exhibit. Don’t be like that aunt.

One of the easiest solutions for this problem is simply rearranging your furniture. Pull the pieces away from the walls so you get rid of that wide open space in the center of the room. Think about how people would arrange their chairs if they just pulled them up to sit down for a chat. Move furniture so it faces other furniture.

If you haven’t already, add some texture with fabric throws and comfy throw pillows. Top things off by adding a unique, eye-catching item to the room décor that can draw people in.

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