We pull perfect rooms out of magazines. We buy the must-have pieces. Yet, sometimes we still end up with decorating disasters.

But fret not — Karl Lohnes, Canada AM’s home expert, shares the most common mistakes and the basic rules for your stylish space:

1. High-altitude art
Many people hang their artwork too high, which can make ceilings feel lower. As a general rule, says Lohnes, the middle of your art should be about 1.6 metres off the floor.

2. Super-sized sofas
Buying furniture that’s too large for your space is “like putting a school bus in a garage; you can’t manoeuvre it at all,” he says. Your sofa should never be longer than two-thirds the width of the room, so that you can reposition it and add end tables.

3. Teeny tiny area rugs
An area rug should tie the room together, but Lohnes says most people buy rugs that are too small. There should be about 30-35 centimetres of floor space around your rug, and the front legs of all your furniture should be sitting on it.

4. Colour cop-outs

Another common error is choosing “wimpy” paint colours, says Lohnes. “Most people play it safe, so they look at the fan deck and they find the colour they like and go up one,” he explains. But the bigger the space, the more “oomph” your colour should have. So choose the deeper hue, which will have the power to pull the room together.

5. Trend overload
Sure, lemon tiles seem like a good idea today, but will you still like them in a few years? Lohnes suggests putting a spending limit on trend pieces, because “You shouldn’t feel like you can’t get rid of it in six months.”