Do you feel ‘at home’ in your home? Or are you constantly fixing things and wondering how it could be decorated differently? Does the room relax you or overwhelm you? Home decor, whatever style you may choose, is supposed to be about embracing who you are and offering a restful, calming space for you to unwind and also recharge. It’s also where you express your creativity. So sometimes, it may just lead you to over-decorate what should essentially be a simple room design.

Our editor, Preethi Thomas, who feels passionately about the subject, made some interesting observations. Read on.

What is over-decorating?

Who better to talk about over-decorating than an empath? Being highly sensitive to shifts in moods, vibes, an overload of information or even furniture, Thomas feels this extends to her judgment of decor. 

“The litmus test for determining if a space is over-decorated is if you walk in and feel overwhelmed,” she says. 

That brought to memory a strange feeling I had on entering a friend’s newly furnished kitchen. Wherever my eyes went, there were only Morroccan tiles. Now you might be surprised to know that I am actually a huge fan of the patterned tiles in general. So I wondered what was wrong because I knew something was wrong even without a professional degree in interior designing. And that’s when Thomas explained, Morrocan tiles should be used as accents to highlight a certain area of the kitchen. Using them all over the walls and floor was an overkill! 

Needless to say, we spent the rest of this housewarming party hiding from our well-meaning friend and hostess, afraid we might be asked for our opinion on the decor. 

What are the signs that you are over-decorating your home?

Thomas counted them one by one on 5 of her fingers and here they are:

#1: Sticking too closely to a style 

simple room design-living room design
Everything from the style makes the space too impersonal

It is not impossible to have a simple room design when you stick to just one style. But, who said over-decorating has anything to do with having too many things in your scope of decor? You could go Scandinavian and still over-decorate. When you have items from only one style or time period in a space, it looks too picture-perfect like a staged image from a design magazine. 

How to fix it?

simple room design-minimal living room
This living room is minimal but has bright pops of colour

It should be simple enough to not follow one style religiously but it really isn’t. How much is too much is a question that is more convoluted than “to be or not to be”. So keep your focus by remembering that you are decorating your home and not a show apartment. In your zeal to stay true to the aesthetics of a style, don’t forget that it is your space and it should be more ‘you’ than maybe, mid-century modern! A simple room design is often they best.

Get the basics right – stick to one dominant style, which can be interspersed with dashes of other styles or elements that reflect your personality. Our audience tends to favour minimalism with a touch of Indian!

#2: Too many accents and no clear direction

simple room design-bohemian living room-design mistakes
Just what can you see in this room?

Let’s start by explaining what an accent is. It is that element of a room that is supposed to be the focal point of the decor. It could be a huge painting on the wall or wall itself with textured paint, a chandelier or a Moroccan rug. It could also be a piece of furniture that is stunning. Now, what do you think is the accent in this room? It’s impossible to tell because there are too many! When there are too many things in the same space, you end up seeing none of them well enough. 

How to fix it?

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The blue Harry Potter-themed wall is clearly the accent here

The thumb rule is to have just one or two accent pieces or focal points in a room. The rest of the elements in the simple room design must support that accent and not draw attention away from it. In this Bengaluru room, the moulded wall with Harry Potter-themed trivia is the hero. The rest of the room is designed around it. Articles

#3: If you have to search for open/free space as there are no visual breaks

simple room design-gallery wall
Without visual breaks, decor can be overwhelming

A visual break is basically relief from the monotony of decor. Every inch of your room is ‘decorated’ you will be searching for free space like you are gasping for air. Imagine a room decorated with bookshelves that cover the walls floor-to-ceiling. It makes a great spectacle but living in a space like that is nothing short of suffocating. 

How to fix it?

simple room design-blue wall-gallery wall
The empty space around the framed pictures makes them stand out

Let your decor and home breathe, for God’s sake! Empty corners, free floor space and even doors and windows are visual breaks. Space is an integral part of your decor just like your furniture. Use free space as a design element like everything else while you visualise a simple room design. That will help you get a good mix of decor and visual breaks. 

#4: Mixing styles that essentially do not match

simple room design-design mistakes-rustic style
Rustic + Scandinavian= Style Disaster

Haven’t we all played matchmaker between different styles? It’s a very desi thing to do. But, mixing styles is a dangerous endeavor and requires due process. If you mix two styles that do not gel well like art deco and minimal, you will end up with a home where items stick out like thorns. This home, for instance, mixes rustic and Scandinavian to some weird degree. Needless to say, the results are less than savoury.

How to fix it?

eclectic style-mirror designs
There must be a method to madness when you are mixing styles

Start out by asking the right questions:

  1. Are the styles you are trying to meet inherently complementary? 
  2. Am I just following a trend or does this mean something to me?
  3. What is the common meeting point for these two styles? (It could be a colour, a finish, a material, but identify it)

Only if that basic premise is met can you try to blend them organically. That said, it is always better to seek the assistance of a professional designer while mixing styles. 

#5: Too many prints/ too much of one colour/ overuse of one material

wallpaper designs-design mistakes
Never repeat prints within a room
  1. Too many prints used together make a space look busy, and also gives some of us a headache
  2. Similarly, too much wood in your interiors could make the space look heavy
  3. Using the same colour for everything is a sign that you lack imagination. 

Essentially, too much of anything spoils the look and feel of a simple room design. The rules differ slightly for prints, patterns, colours and materials. But the important thing to remember is this: design continuity is more about using bits and pieces of the same design element in different parts of the house than using an overdose of the same thing within a space. 

How to fix it?

simple room design-floral wallpaper
Prints must be complementary but not clones
  1. Use different but complementary prints together. We have florals and geometric prints in the same frame here and they aren’t clashing at all. 
  2. Similarly, choose one dominant colour and build your colour scheme around it. If you pick blue, you can use one pop of vibrant blue and follow up with lighter shades throughout the room. Everything in the same colour makes your decor appear flat. 
  3. Aim for a ‘layered’ look. You can use one kind of material like wood but make sure you have some break in the form of soft furnishings or different types/colours of wood. Variety for a simple room design is good as long as you have balance. 

From the Editor’s Desk 

livspace magazine-editor
Preethi Thomas, Editor, Livspace Magazine

Decluttering is an essential part of decorating. This is especially true when you have been living in the same house for long. Decor just seems to pile up because you’ve lost sight of what it was you set out to do. And our editor puts it down to not understanding the thin line between collecting and hoarding things. 

So are you really collecting your best loved items, do they come from your travels or have you become a habitual hoarder? Let’s hear it from Preethi Thomas in her own words. 

What is the difference between Hoarding Vs. Collecting?

We all have that one parent or friend who loves to hoard under the guise of being a collector. Collectors are serious about their business — carefully storing and displaying their collection and having a whole bunch of stories to go with it over a cup of tea. Hoarders have basically lost the plot – mindlessly storing, forgetting something even exists, and cluttering their beloved home. 

Over the years, I’ve been able to implement a simple strategy that keeps my home from gathering dust. I must admit, having to move houses and having less storage space is a bit of a blessing. You will periodically and forcefully get rid of junk. 

If I haven’t used something in 6 months and don’t have any good memories attached to it, I trash it or donate it. 

I’ll admit it’s a bit cutthroat and people are almost surprised at how detached I can get while decluttering. But I firmly believe your home reflects your state of mind. And I’d rather have an organised mind and a home that reflects that. 

Once you declutter, I would also suggest you be very mindful of what you buy. Unless you absolutely need it, or unless it brings you joy, don’t buy it. Please remember, your home is your sanctuary, it has a soul. Stop treating it like a godown where you absolutely must have EVERYTHING, and start enjoying the space – no matter how small or big – by embracing the less is more approach. You’ll find a sense of calm seeping in once you do.

If you enjoyed reading this story, also check out 30 Things All 30-Somethings Must Have at Home.

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