By Courtney Lichterman

Published on September 17, 2015

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Photography by Brittany Ambridge

by Courtney Lichterman

You painted, papered, tiled, fluffed, measured, and maybe even grouted to make your room makeover a stunning success. So why does it look just a little…wrong? It might not be your design decisions or your lack of technique. There’s a good chance one or more of these items are throwing the whole look off. Take care of the problem and the room will suddenly come together.  

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Multi-level carpeted cat trees

Where to start? Just the fact that these things are advertised as “Cat Condos” should instantly raise a red flag for even the most inexperienced decorator. Complete with bells, bridges, hammocks, ladders, and hiding places the size of studio apartments, these carpet-covered manors come with everything short of lap pools. Even the most expensive De Gournay wallpaper is helpless against the blight of these beige towers (especially when they’re placed right in the center of the living room), so donate yours to a local animal shelter and replace it with a more tasteful substitute. We promise your cat will never look at you and say “What the h!@# did you do with my apartment?!?” Because you know,  he can’t talk. 

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This comparitively unobtrusive cat bed from Hepper.com runs about $150 and is considerably easier on the eyes. It comes in a variety of colors and is light enough to move to another room when company comes over. 

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Hard to believe, but this cool vase-looking thing is actually a cat scratcher from James Owen Designs . It’s a good way to make all the other cats in the neighborhood jealous. 

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Commercial logo/mascot/insignia

Whether it’s sports memorabilia, a quilt made from all your old concert t-shirts, or even a couple of oven mitts you got for opening that new checking account, logos in any living space almost always make the sophistication level plummet. A little of it might be forgiven in a first apartment but after that, it’s time to ditch anything that was designed by an advertising agency.

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If you feel as if you just cannot live without some form of advertising in your home, here are a few good alternatives. Framed business cards are a great way to remember a special trip, place or even time in your life and take up much less room than say, a queen-sized bed with the logo of your favorite company seared into the headboard.  

 

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Exercise equipment in the bedroom

“The finishing touch to a cozy, well-planned master bedroom is an enormous piece of charcoal grey exercise equipment,” said no decorator, ever. Unless you’re training for the Olympics, exercise equipment of any kind has no business as a permanent fixture in your bedroom. If it won’t fit under your bed or a in a closet, it just shouldn’t be there. 

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A smart alternative?

 AquaBell water weights

Fillable up to 16 lbs., these can be emptied and put away so your physique, not your equipment, is all people see of your efforts. 

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Yes, they do make 

folding treadmills,

 and not only are they space savers, but they’re considerably cheaper than most other treadmills. At only $99.99, the Stamina InMotion® T900 Manual Treadmill is a bargain. 

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Photography by marcypro

Portable steppers

Another great “under the bed” option is this stair stepper with resistance bands. For $59.90, that’s a pretty cheap way to get fit. 

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Harsh lighting

It’s been said that a theatrical lighting designer originally uttered the quote, “If all the world’s a stage, I want better lighting!” and while the attribution may be debatable, the sentiment is not. Here are a few ways to make sure your wattage isn’t casting your home in a bad…you know… light .

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Photography by dffy co

Overhead lights

Stark overhead lights in particular are harsh, depressing, and often almost institutional-looking. 

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Soft fabric or even frosted glass will do amazing things to help diffuse the glare of an overhead light. I installed this one in a hard-to-light room in my home and couldn’t get over the difference it made. 

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Better yet, keep your lighting at about shoulder height or below and the whole room will feel different. 

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And don’t forget about the shade! An old, yellowing lampshade can really, well, throw shade on a room, so-to-speak.

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Whether it’s an old-fashioned Edison or an energy-saving bulb that will last the next 49 years, light bulbs are all the rage at the moment. Unless you happen to be the organizer of a light show at the Empire State Building, ones this bright are probably unnecessary. 

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Instead, go for a soft pink bulb . This amazing discovery was made when I purchased a pink light bulb for a baby shower. Not only did everyone comment on the novelty of it (who knew they made pink light bulbs?) but almost everyone mentioned how great it made everyone look. A great investment at $5, this particular one is supposed to last seven years. 

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An over-abundance of media equipment

Between games, movies, docks, chargers, remotes, headphones, controllers, and even steering wheels, some living rooms are starting to look like Radio Shacks. If you’re not using them, these media gadgets need to be kept out of sight. Luckily, this is an easily solvable problem.

 

On a certain level, we understand where you’re coming from with the DVD “display” units. In the not-so-faraway past you amassed a huge collection of DVDs and even though you can now get just about any movie or TV show on your computer, it seems like a shame to toss such a well-curated collection. The problem is, even when neatly lined up on shelves, DVDs aren’t living room décor. 

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Talk about an easy fix! This clean, modern shelf  will not only hold (and hide) 118 DVDs but will also double as a bookshelf. They’re 100 bucks a piece and if you need more than two of these you need a Purge Day anyway.

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If, like a lot of people, you’ve hopped on the industrial chic train in recent years, this is a great media storage solution. At under $250, this  cool card catalog  unit will hold 456 CDs, 192 DVDs, and, believe it or not, 96 VHS tapes. 

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Photography by cranium crack

Remotes and game controls

Before you get defensive, no one is saying you have to toss these (although we’re not sure why you wouldn’t). Just get them out of sight and we’ll call it even. And no, unless it happens to have a lid, a remote control “caddy” won’t work, either; these are an eye sore no matter how you slice it.