When decorating our living room, it’s easy to go about doing it based on our gut feelings. After all, as the first room in the house that our guests see, the urge to impress is strong. It’s effortless to jump right in despite not having basic design knowledge. We can’t go wrong if we choose something that looks good.

If only it were that simple. Design is more than just about choosing things that look good — the way they’re arranged and put together, the colours, the geometry, every single element plays a part in beautifying the whole. With such complicated rules, it’s not surprising that there are times when things get overlooked and design faux pas were made. Even the best of us interior designers aren’t immune to mistakes sometimes. So here’s a list of the 20 most common living room design mistakes everyone makes.

  • Choosing the wrong sofa

Possibly as the most eye-catching furniture in the living room, the sofa plays a vital role in how the rest of the room comes together. Most homeowners see no need to switch out their sofas if their old one still works. However, putting a large sofa in a small living room can cause your living room to appear smaller than it is. Alternatively, a small couch in a large room can result in too much empty space. You want your guests to feel comfortable, not cramped or isolated.

  • Complete lack of cushions

Cushions are a great way to express your style. They can contribute to a cosy and relaxed atmosphere — just what you should be aiming for in your living room. Overlooking cushions for your sofas can make your living room seem stoic and uninteresting.

  • Placing your couch against the wall

This rule might come as a shocker since most of us are accustomed to having our sofas by the wall. It is, after all, how you should place your sofa, right?

Not at all. Setting your sofa away from the wall can help to visually enlarge the space, particularly if you have a large living room. This is especially so if you know you will end up with extra space in the middle of your living room if you push your sofa up against the wall.

  • Buying a rug that’s too big or too small

Rugs can tie the entire look of a room together, but only if you choose the appropriate one based on the room’s form and function. A poorly-sized rug would only end up looking like a child attempting to wear oversized hand-me-downs. A large rug in a small living room can overwhelm the space, while a small rug in a large room would bring about imbalance. On the other hand, a carpet that’s sized perfectly for your living room’s dimensions can help extend the space visually.

  • Misplaced Television

We can’t count the number of times people have tried to place their televisions over a high mantlepiece. While it is trendy, hanging your television in too high up puts a strain on your neck over a while. Instead, your television should be at eye-level — and keep it away from windows too, or the light coming in would hamper your view.

  • Badly hung curtains

Hanging your curtains incorrectly can close in a space and make your room appear smaller. Rather than installing the rod right above the window frame, hang it as wide and as high as possible. This not only makes your ceiling appear taller but opens up your living room as well. Ensure the colour you choose for your curtains is also brighter and more saturated than the rest of the furniture in your living room.

  • Sticking to only one style

Many homeowners may feel the need to stick to a specific style, often limiting their creativity. Don’t be afraid to experiment and switch things up! Mixing periods and styles breathe life into your room and show people that it has been lived in. Strictly following one style can cause your living room to feel uninspiring and trite.

  • Sacrificing comfort for style

It feels incredible when you find the furniture of your dreams, but it’s also good to remember how they will function in your living room. What role does it play? How does it enhance your living room — besides helping it to look good? These are all considerations to keep in mind before you impulse buy an expensive piece.

  • Overlooking smaller details

It’s easy to focus on the main furniture that the room needs — a TV, a sofa, a coffee table… But many homeowners tend to forget the next step when planning their living room. Set aside some of your budget for the smaller items and accessories. They are what will complete your room and make it feel personable.

  • Selecting a disproportionate coffee table

A disproportionate coffee table can throw anyone off and make a living room look jarring. Your coffee table should follow accordingly to the size of your sofa as well as your living room. Use that to guide what length, height, and even material your coffee table should be.

  • Using generic art

When homeowners think about placing art in their homes, most of them go straight for generic, pre-made art. Many aren’t aware that there are other options. There are plenty of custom-art services out there where you can commission original yet affordable art for your room. This helps to avoid making your living room appear cheap and adds so much more personality.

  • Not using multiple light sources.

Lighting is one of the most critical players in creating the right atmosphere for your room, so it’s impossible to only stick to one source. Depending on the activities you would be doing in your living room, it’s essential to have your lighting system. You may choose to install recessed lights for your movie nights, table lamps for reading, or even a dimmer. Updating your lighting fixtures isn’t as expensive as it sounds, not to mention it is worth it for that perfect ambience.

  • Too much clutter

Marie Kondo was half-right when she said to “discard everything that does not spark joy.” Too many decor and accessories would end up overcrowding your room and cause overkill. Instead, go for one or two statement pieces and let them do the job. The rest of the accessories should be grouped tastefully for that less is more effective.

  • Forgetting to emphasise the centre of your room

Unlike other rooms in the house, living rooms often have a centrepiece. That goes without saying. The mistake that most people make, however, is not stressing that the centre enough. Whether it is a coffee table, a fireplace, or a mirror, you can always highlight it using contrasting colours and prints for that bright accent that your living room needs.

  • Pairing dark furniture with low ceilings

In a room with low ceilings, it is vital to avoid using dark furniture as the centrepiece! This will only result in your room looking cramped and boxed in. No one would want to stay in a room like that! Instead, opt for neutral light shades or compact sofas and neat tables on raised legs.

  • Going for safe paint options

The only way to stand out is to be bold. White living rooms are classic but ultimately dull and run-of-the-mill. Want your guests impressed by your living room? Take a risk with your paint colours and watch your room transform. Neutral shades are relatively less likely to be able to create a sense of cosiness in homes as compared to other colours.

  • Shopping at only one retailer

It’s so easy to do so for the sake of convenience, but you would only be limiting yourself and your style. After all, your living room is meant for living, so why make it one-dimensional? Buying entire sets of furniture from the same retailer or designer may cause your living room to end up looking bleak. Ultimately, you want your living room to look like a living room, not a showroom.

  • Not having enough surfaces to set things on

As the one room in your house with probably the most traffic, it is vital to make sure there are enough places for you and your other family members to do what they need to do. The living room is where many activities occur — eating, reading, chatting, and the like. Make sure that you can reach right across to a table from wherever you’re sitting to a table to set your things down. This keeps the flow of your living room activities and shows just how well you took into consideration the function of your furniture pieces.

  • Not having enough seats for guests.

A living room that’s unable to entertain any guests. How impractical does that sound? Now imagine how impractical that would look. As the one place that your guests are sure to hang out in, it’s essential to make sure that the seating facilitates conversation. Make sure that your living room can accommodate just as many guests as your dining room can. The best rooms would be comfortable for two just as it is for twenty.

  • Plants in small pots

Having multiple small plants and succulents spread around your living room may seem cute but causes your room to appear smaller and more cluttered. Rather than placing numerous plants, opt for a large plant in a large pot. This will help make your living room appear bigger and cosier.