Interior design is a lot like the fairy tale, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Some rooms feel too cluttered, others feel too sparse, and it’s only a select few who manage to get it just right. When it comes to setting up the perfect flow for the rooms, that feels stylish, chic, and welcoming, practice really does make perfect! Interior designers and amateurs who seem to have a knack for creating a space that ‘just works’ have the ability to follow some simple rules and play around with furniture, accessories, and knickknacks until everything feels harmonious.

Thankfully you don’t have to hire a professional or earn an interior design certification to improve the flow of your home. Here are eight common room flow mistakes that everyone makes, and some tips on how to fix them.

A is for Artwork

Art is a fantastic way to make any room livelier and to show off your own personality and tastes. It’s not the art itself that tends to impact the flow of the room, it’s the placement. When you hang your art too high or too low, it’s going to disrupt room flow. Try grouping your art with your furniture and hanging it only 10 inches higher than the furniture.

When creating a photo gallery, it’s suggested that the perfect height to display that familial pride is 153 cms (or at around five feet). This will draw in people’s attention towards your treasured family memories.

When Furniture is too Big

It’s always ideal, but not always practical, to buy your furniture for the space. No matter what you’re doing, consider scale. When your furniture it too big or too small your home will feel lopsided. This means it will feel either too cavernous or too cramped, depending on what you’ve purchased. If you love large pieces of furniture, think about flow and remember to measure. Interior Designer Ariel Okin told My Domain, “A too-large coffee table or chair placed at an awkward angle can impede the natural walking space around the furniture. It’s always helpful to draw it out on a printed version of the floor plan and then draw a ‘flow plan’ of how people will walk in, sit down, get up, etc., to really visualize it.”

Everything is a Little too Symmetrical

Balance in a room is important, but not everything in a layout needs to be placed perpendicular to other furniture. Furniture that is too lined up can look too staged for real life. Interior Designer Sasha Bikoff told Apartment Therapy, “I see very calculated symmetrical living room designs repeatedly. Everything with similar shapes and proportions.” To fix this common no-no she says, “In order to have a living room with real character, you have to mix and match, and be somewhat eclectic” and suggests playing with style, colour, and differently proportioned furniture and decorations.

Blocking Natural Light

Let the light shine in to keep your place looking spacious and bright. This means not blocking your windows with poorly positioned furniture. VP of Visual Merchandising at West Elm, Matthew Anderson told My Domain, “Leave space between the window and the sofa if the footprint absolutely requires it be in front of the window.” Matthew also suggests layering furniture to create space between windows and larger pieces of furniture. Something as simple as putting a small console behind a couch will help with this.

Another common mistake is when people set up a living room with only overhead lighting. Consider some other options, like a side table lamp for entertaining on a cloudy day or to get ample light when reading.

In Dealing With Open Layouts

A lot of people set up their open concept layouts the exact same way that they would arrange furniture in a space featuring several walled rooms. This is a mistake. In an open space you lose intimacy in a living room, cosiness in a kitchen and so on by pushing all your furniture against the walls. You aren’t making room for a square dance in the centre of your living room, so use the space! Try grouping your furniture to make the space more functional. Create an eating nook and a sitting area. Some designers recommend using a few different rugs to help naturally divide the rooms into areas.

Should my TV be a Focal Point?

There is some debate as to whether all the furniture should be positioned around a TV. If you’re lucky enough to have an entertainment room and a living room, feel free to focus the seating around the TV in one room, and making it all about comfortable conversation in the other. For those using the space for both entertaining and binge watching Netflix, you may want to get creative and mount the TV to a wall or place it inside an armoire you can close when company comes so they can focus on conversation, not the score of the game. Don’t forget, for dual purpose spaces you can always shift the couch over when you watch TV and move it back when company comes over.

What About the Bedroom?

Balance remains important in the bedroom.  Just ask any relationship expert. A bedroom can feel too ‘top heavy’ when all the furniture (like the bed and twin nightstands) are all pushed up against one wall, making the rest of the room look empty. Try balancing the room with a reading nook, makeup vanity, chest for linens or spare blankets, or a carefully placed dresser to even things out.

Your Home Isn’t a Furniture Showroom

You don’t need to have all the furniture you’d use when hosting a large family gathering or party set up in your home at all times. Consider using your storage locker or basement to stow away your occasional furniture and allow for more room in your everyday life. Designers know the importance of ease in circulation and navigating your way around the room. Director of Interior Design at D’Apostrphe Design says, “A space should never feel too cramped, and there’s nothing worse than having to do the cha-cha as you try to get up from your sofa, shimmying between the coffee table!” She also suggests that you ensure each item of furniture has a purpose within any room before finding it a home.