Creative homeowners are looking to paint and design a stylish but functional living room space for their family often fall into creative dead-ends. Here are six typical examples.

1. Don’t be afraid of color.

There are untold millions of bland, muted, living rooms in the world. Why not inject a little pizazz into your living space and try some color? If you are worried about the results being too “loud,” a great technique is to go neutral with your paint and select colorful furniture, or pick out muted furniture and make your walls colorful.

2. Deploying Artwork.

Don’t be intimidated by the task of selecting artwork for your living room. There is a plethora of affordable original work by unknowns, prints of classics on the web or diamond in the rough garage sale finds. The two traps in this department are no artwork or undersized/awkwardly placed artwork. Placing one small piece on every wall looks unnatural and contrived. If you are on a budget, try putting together an art wall with a mixture of varying pieces to avoid clutter. Another tip is NOT to hang artwork too high, as it makes the ceilings look shorter than they are.

3. Unimaginative furniture layouts.

The classic rookie mistake is to push all the furniture against the walls. However, if you look at decorating magazines, the pros will invariably move the seating areas into the center of the room to create conversation areas (as well as visual interest). It will also open pathways around the room, making the windows accessible. Another pitfall is to purchase furniture that’s too big for a place. Huge, comfy sectional sofas may be tempting but aren’t any fun if they overwhelm the available space and cause you to stub your toe three times a day!

5. Unflattering/ Impersonal lighting.

Unless you need to find something you dropped or are cleaning your room, relying on overhead ceiling lighting should be avoided. It’s cold, unappealing and unflattering to your paint-job and furniture arrangement. Lamp-level lighting will create atmosphere, highlight your freshly painted walls, sense of style, and call attention to the artwork.

6. Trying to make everything match.

There is no written rule that everything has to match! Working with a disciplined color palette can make the selection of furniture and accessories more natural, but we recommend mixing in some variety to keep things fresh. An excellent way to do this is including a vintage piece or something modern for a more sophisticated, contrasting style.