How To Fix Your Worst Apartment Problems

It's the little details that can make or break your interior game. The wrong lampshade can subtly alter the vibe of a whole space. One too many pieces of furniture can turn a house into a home store, not a lived-in space. And, sometimes it takes an outside set of eyes to spot these irksome issues; a skilled set of eyes that belongs to an interior design professional.
We asked three of our favorite decorators, Gunnar Larson, Emily Henderson, and Amber Lewis, for the top mistakes to avoid — and their brilliant solutions to try instead. For starters, watch out for bright yellow and blue paint, and plump those slouchy pillows. Read on, and you'll never make a rookie interior error again.
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Photographed by Gunnar Larson.
Buy A Smaller Rug
"When it comes to your living room rug, bigger isn't always better. Especially with apartments and smaller homes, it's imperative to keep in mind that you want to make your space look and feel bigger. Many times, a smaller version in the living room helps give the illusion of more space. You don't need all four legs of the furniture to be on the rug — just the front two will do." — Gunnar Larson.
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Photographed by Maria Del Rio.
Mingle Your Woods
"Oftentimes clients are hesitant about mixing woods in a single space, but it gives an eclectic vibe with a sense of warmth and interest. The matchy-matchy look often reads as stuffy and monotonous, lacking personality." — Amber Lewis of Amber Interiors
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Photographed by Mario Del Rio.
Avoid Over-Decorating
"I have never heard of anyone walking into a home and saying, 'Wow, love your clutter!' Whether you believe it or not, too many objects affects your energy and attitude. I always say, 'When in doubt, throw it out!' So, grab a cappuccino (or a stiff drink), let Erykah Badu's "Bag Lady" be your theme song, pack light, and let it all go. " — Gunnar Larson
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Photographed by Gunnar Larson.
Try Various Leg Silhouettes
"If your sofa leans midcentury with skinny dowel legs, opt for a chunkier coffee table rather than a minimalist one. Not only does mixing heights and shapes make the room look and feel more interesting and collected, it grounds the space and keeps it from feeling 'leggy.' You don't want all your pieces to seem to be floating in space or too heavy and chunky." — Amber Lewis
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Photo: Courtesy of Melissa Oholendt.
Don't Paint Small Spaces White
"Oddly enough, white is a dead tone in a small room. Choosing something with a more medium tone will make the space feel larger. " — Emily Henderson
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Don't Take Too Many Shortcuts When Painting

For a small paint project, you might think all you need is a bucket of paint and a brush or two. But, one splatter in the wrong place, and you'll wish you got this starter kit. The ben® & Me DIY helper comes with a coupon for two gallons of premium paint and a quart of gloss, plus all the tools you need (drop cloth, tray liner, time travel) to update that accent wall without undoing your whole room.

Benjamin Moore ben® & Me Starter Kit, $89, available at Benjamin Moore stores.
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Photo: Courtesy of Zeke Ruelas.
Have A Proper Hem
"Weigh down your curtains with a proper 5-inch hem. It makes them much more proportioned and professional-looking." — Emily Henderson
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
Avoid Blue & Yellow Walls
"Blue can quickly go from beautiful to 'It's a Boy!' as fast as yellow can go from calming to irritating. If you want to paint your walls a color try going for a subtle green or gray. Green can be refreshing and is psychologically associated with balance. A light, neutral gray is an ideal way to brighten a space without shocking your nerves." — Gunnar Larson
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Photo: Courtesy of Melissa Oholendt.
Pick Paper Shades
"Metal shades only give directional lighting, which is great for a desk or work area, but not for ambient lighting. Fabric shades are much softer." — Emily Henderson
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Photo: Courtesy of Zeke Ruelas.
Use Semi-Gloss Paint On Furniture
"Matte or satin sheen scuffs up very easily. So, unless you have it professionally done, definitely paint shelves or cabinets with something with a higher sheen." — Emily Henderson
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Photographed by Mario Del Rio.
Buy A Bedskirt
"The first step toward having a sophisticated bedroom is by adding a bedskirt... My favorite is a detachable box-pleat style, which allows you to attach each side individually and adjust the height. Bedskirts not only take your bedroom one step closer to perfection, they also help conceal items stored under the bed." — Gunnar Larson
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Photographed by Gunnar Larson.
Stuff Your Pillows
"Investing in down is well worth it. Use fills that are approximately two to three inches larger than the pillowcase itself to give it a full look. A floppy pillow on a sofa looks tired and drab rather than acting as a statement." — Amber Lewis
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Photographed by Mario Del Rio.
Measure, Measure, Measure
"We have all said it, 'No need to measure, I am positive it will fit.' Whether you are an urbanite in a studio or a suburbanite in a rambling house, it is always best to measure — then measure one more time. I have seen too many people buy sofas too large or bedroom suites that just don't fit the space. Bottom line, even if you live in one of the top 108 largest homes in the United States, you should still check — just to be safe."— Gunnar Larson