Do you remember when you were a kid and you were given a colouring book? Each blank page was a little parcel of potential, presenting you with the opportunity to inject your own dose of colour into those boring black-and-white illustrations. However, do you also remember the niggle of disappointment you experienced when you accidentally coloured outside the lines or when you selected the wrong Faber Castell from your pencil tin?

Well, interior décor can be similar in many ways. All you are given is the bones of the room; the rest is a blank canvas waiting for you to unleash your creative potential upon it. In order to make sure you don’t slip outside those lines or spoil your picture with regrettable choices, we’ve put together a list of some of the most common mistakes in interior décor and how you can avoid them.

1. Painting the walls first

Logically-speaking, it would seem like giving your walls a lick of fresh paint is the very first thing you should do when it comes to decking out your room. Wrong. Put that paint brush down, and get choosing your fabrics and textiles instead. Browse through samples of rugs and window treatments to find what you love, then choose your paint to complement that.

2. Ignoring scale and proportion

According to interior design extraordinaire Linda Floyd, “when you enter into a room, it should be like a city scape…a combination of different heights”. Too many small items and you clutter a room; too many large items and it looks stuffed and small. To avoid this all-too-common mistake, we suggest sticking with Linda’s knowledgeable advice – “You never want everything in a room to be the same level or the same size. Accomplish this with different heights/sizes in your furnishings, art placement and window treatments.”

3. Forgetting to add a focal point

No matter what kind of room you are working with, you want to structure it around a focal point. This provides a place for the eye to rest while also delegating a purpose to the space. Often, people forget to do this, which results in a space that lacks structure, harmony and cohesion. Whether it’s a fireplace, a dining table, a large painting or even a set of beautiful wide windows, choose a focus for your room and position your furnishings around that.

4. Making everything matchy-matchy

When your space starts to look a bit too much like an IKEA showroom, it begins to lack that all-important taste of character that reflects your personality. While there’s nothing wrong with picking up a few key items from your local furniture store, there are a couple of good ways to avoid making your room look like a page straight out of the latest catalogue. Start by trawling through weekend markets or garage sales and building up a collection of one-of-a-kind pieces, or invest in some custom furnishings such as made-to-measure dining tables and window blinds.

5. Scattering your accessories

So, you’ve managed to thwart all interior decor mistakes up until now, but what about when it comes to adding those finishing touches? We like to think that accessories are to a room what a full stop is to a sentence: they complete the structure and though seemingly small, have a big impact. Make sure you get your accessorising right by keeping collections clustered together rather than scattering them around your room. The ‘rule of three’ is a good bedrock to keep in mind here – gather your items into groups of three for visually-appeasing patterns that will truly complete the ambience of your brand new room.