Design Recipes: Decorator dos and don’ts

From furniture placement to color and fabric choices and materials, choosing the right design can be overwhelming and confusing.

Designers tend to follow certain design rules when it comes to making a successful space. When it comes to designing your space, feel free to experiment while keeping some basic design rules in mind.

Decorator Do's

Do select materials that are durable and can be easily touched up or repaired. Wood is always a good choice.

Do "map" or repeat color in a space. A popular design hack among design experts is to repeat colors from a color palette within a space.

Do add greenery in unexpected ways. Bathrooms, dens and basements are great spaces to add a lush greenery element.

Do use mirrors. From helping to bounce light in spaces that have few windows to helping to make a room feel bigger, mirrors can be used in a myriad of purposeful ways.

Do add pops of colors through accents and accessories. "Portable" or moveable décor is a common design hack to maximize décor through select pieces that can be rotated from room to room throughout a home.

Decorator Don'ts

Don't select overused or trendy patterns or color combinations that will become outdated.

Don't purchase items that are particularly fragile. Many design experts avoid fragile items such as mirrored or fabric covered furniture.

Don't select items that will overpower a space. Neutrality will provide more versatility.

Don't opt for built-ins or bookcases. These design elements are often unpopular when it comes time to sell your home.

Don't create a palette that is overly warm or dark, instead opt for a blend of light and dark to create more of a sense of contrast.

Cathy Hobbs, based in New York City, is an Emmy Award-winning television host and a nationally known interior design home staging expert and short-term rental/vacation home designer with offices in New York City and The Hudson Valley. Contact her at or visit her website at