Decorative items fill bookshelves. (Photo: Handout/TNS).

Ready to decorate? Whether starting from scratch or swapping out the old and swapping in the new, there are some pitfalls to avoid. In other words, when it comes to decorating, what shouldn’t you do? And more importantly, what are some better alternatives? Here are some suggestions that are near the top of the decorator don’ts list.

Artificial dried flowers
These instantly feel dated and old fashioned in a modern decor scheme. Instead, opt for artificial palm leaves, grasses or succulents.

Bookshelves crowded with books
Yes, they are called bookshelves for a reason, but they can also be used to showcase beautiful accessories. Leave some shelves empty for a more minimalist look.

Two- tone
This was a common trend in kitchen design for a while. If looking to achieve a modern, sleek look, instead mix in interesting materials.

The wall of tiny things
Instead of a wall of frames or mirrors of various sizes, go big and bold to better help anchor a space.

Wall-to-wall carpeting
Most homeowners simply prefer hardwood flooring.

The overworked workspace
Clear the clutter and opt for a workspace in which work can be tucked away.

Framed posters
Don’t frame an inexpensive poster and use it for art. Don’t think you can afford a canvas? Instead opt for an affordable wall hanging or framed photograph you print yourself.

Acrylic and plastic
Not only do these materials often crack, they also tend to look milky over time. Opt for an item that is considered “indoor/outdoor.” Often these pieces are not only durable, but they also won’t break the bank.

Blank walls in a long hallway
Elongate these spaces by creating a gallery feel using mirrors.

Bright colors for main furniture pieces
Instead of selecting furniture that may feel trendy, opt for those that will stand the test of time. Gray and cream are great foundational colors when selecting primary pieces such as sofas.

By Cathy Hobbs, Tribune News Service (TNS). Cathy Hobbs, based in New York City, is an Emmy Award-winning television host and a nationally known interior design and home staging expert. Contact her at [email protected] or visit her website at