30 Of The Biggest Interior Design Fails

Shannon Quinn - June 13, 2019
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After binge-watching enough HGTV, some people believe that they can take on an interior design project all on their own. Yes, it is absolutely possible to design your house on a budget. However, loads of amateur designers make mistakes without even realizing it. Here are 30 of the biggest fumbles people make the most often.

A lot of people fall into trying to “keep up with the Joneses” Credit: Shutterstock

30. Trying to Keep Up With The Joneses

So many people fall into the trap of purchasing a home and comparing themselves to their neighbors. Instead of worrying about what everyone else is doing, focus on yourself. This has become even more of an issue nowadays with social media. Just because your friends have something expensive, doesn’t mean you have to, as well.

When decorating a house, you should try not to do it all alone. Credit: Shutterstock

29. Trying To Do It All Alone

Decorating a house is fun, but it can also be very difficult. You will probably run into some issues along the way. Whether it’s painting, electrical work, or building something, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to family and friends for a moving day, or call a friend to see if they want to go shopping with you. Also consider hiring a professional contractor or handyman to help you get your project done.

You don’t have to match furniture perfectly. Credit: Shutterstock

28. Worrying About a Matching Set of Furniture

When you go to shops like Bob’s Discount Furniture, they will push you to buy a complete matching set. In reality, once you take those pieces and get them all in one place, it doesn’t actually look very good, at least not from an interior design standpoint. Sometimes, even mismatching furniture will look very cool, as long as it’s styled properly.

Sometimes, a room can look over-designed. Credit: Shutterstock

27. Forgetting to Personalize

A lot of people get caught up in trying to make their space look minimalist and designer. But there truly is such a thing as “over-designed”. Do you really want to come home to a space that feels like it’s right out of an Ikea catalogue? Probably not. Remember to bring in family photos, personal items, and other things that make the space feel like it’s yours.

The coral color is popular, but not necessarily smart to use for a room. Credit: Shutterstock

26. Purely Following Trends

Every year, there are new home design trends. Yes, they are fun and cool. However, are those trendy colors and items going to stand the test of time? Or are you going to want to change everything a year or two from now? Instead of following a trend, try to focus on a room that you will be happy with for a long time.

Remember that it’s okay to take one day at a time. Credit: Shutterstock

25. Trying to Do Everything At Once

On home design shows, people will do a total makeover of multiple rooms. What people don’t realize is that this is actually not normal. These makeovers are produced for the sake of the TV show, and they often don’t reflect reality. Most people can only afford to re-design one room at a time. Don’t put pressure on yourself to go into debt and try to mimic what you see on TV.

Don’t be dead-set on a certain paint color. Credit: Shutterstock

24. Selecting Paint Colors Before Everything Else

A lot of people make the mistake of being totally dead-set on a paint color, only to realize later that it doesn’t match the vibe of the rest of their design. When in doubt, go with something neutral, like beige or white. But take some serious consideration before painting a more dramatic color.

Make sure you take measurements before moving furniture. Credit: Shutterstock

23. Forgetting to Take Measurements

It’s shocking just how many people do not measure furniture in a store before taking it home. At IKEA, they even provide people with paper measuring tape, because they know that it’s extremely important! Before you shop, measure the area where you plan to put your furniture. Also measure your car or van to see what will fit. Then, when you are shopping, measure the furniture. You will know immediately if it will fit your space.

Remember to have historic furniture to match a historic property. Credit: Shutterstock

22. Ignoring Historic Style

If you purchased a historic property with a lot of crown molding or any other indication of its age, you may want to consider incorporating time-appropriate furniture into that home. We are not saying that you should have a replica of the 1800’s, but sometimes, period pieces can be a lot of fun.

Make sure to plan our your interior design journey. Credit: Shutterstock

21. Decorating Without a Plan

The most common way to ruin an interior design journey is to show up at a store without a plan. Most people will just grab things that they think are good-looking. Hundreds (or thousands) of dollars later, they come back with their items, and realize that none of it is cohesive. So, before you spend a dime on anything for your makeover, take some time to make a plan. Sign up for a Pinterest account, and start pinning the things you like. Once you have a better idea about styles and layouts, you will know what to look for.

Make sure your rooms are functional. Credit: Shutterstock

20. Forgetting About a Room’s Functionality

We have all been to someone’s home that looks pretty, but it almost looks like a museum. Then, there are homes where it’s hard to actually function- either due to clutter, or a bad layout. When you are on your re-design journey, remember to try to imagine yourself living in that space. Will it be difficult to navigate around furniture? Will you be able to stay organized? Keep function as one of your top priorities.

It’s okay to mix patterns. Credit: Shutterstock

19. Using Just One Pattern

Some people are afraid to use patterned fabrics. So, they will go with only one pattern in the room, and repeat it throughout. If anything, this can actually make a room look a bit tacky. Mixing patterns looks amazing, so long as you are bringing the style and color scheme together in a cohesive way.

Don’t rush into rehabbing everything at once. Credit: Shutterstock

18. Rushing Into Things

When people buy a new house, they get excited and tend to jump into buying things. However, once you have lived in a house for a while, the majority of people regret their major home purchases. Think about all of the people you know who have garages stuffed with items they don’t want anymore. Instead of rushing into things, take a while to consider all of your choices. This will help you save time, money, and stress.

If you use mirrors, make sure they aren’t too small. Credit: Shutterstock

17. Buying Mirrors That Are Too Small

When you go to a store, there will be mirrors in all different shapes and sizes. If you are only considering functionality of looking in the mirror, you might think that any one of them is fine. But then, you get home and hang it up, only to realize that the cheapest mirror you picked up is way too small. This makes things look awkward and tacky. Make sure you take a measurement of your wall, and possibly using masking tape over the area where you want the mirror to cover before you go to the store. And when in doubt, try to go with something bigger, rather than smaller.

Remember to incorporate symmetry into your home. Credit: Shutterstock

16. Forgetting About Symmetry

Our brains love to see symmetry. It just feels so soothing. Yes, it’s possible to go overboard, but every well-designed room needs it to some extent. Achieving the perfect balance in your home will make you feel good about your layout and your guests will be impressed with your eye for detail.

Don’t get too discouraged when you are trying to decorate. Credit: Shutterstock

15. Getting Discouraged

No one is perfect. Every single person is going to run into issues when they are trying to re-decorate their house. So, don’t give up as soon as something goes wrong. Take a break, regroup, and go back to it later. Also consider asking a friend for help, if something was far too difficult in the first place.

Make sure you test out samples in your home before painting. Credit: Shutterstock

14. Not Trying Paint Samples Before You Buy Gallons

It is extremely common for someone to fall in love with a paint color, and they dive into buying several gallons. But then as soon as it goes up on the walls, they hate it. This is a huge waste of time and money that can be prevented by simply having some patience. On your first trip to the store, grab some swatches, and purchase a small container of paint. This usually only costs a couple dollars. Then, paint samples on your wall side-by-side, and give it a day to dry. Once the samples are up on your wall, the correct choice will be crystal clear.

This couch is so big, it would not be suitable for just any room. Credit: Shutterstock

13. Buying Furniture That Does Not Fit

So many people accidentally buy furniture that doesn’t fit the room- either stylistically, or dimensionally. So before you buy anything, take measurements. Also ask yourself, “What is the theme of this room? What is the color story?” If the new furniture does not fit, do not buy it.

Each room needs a good entry. Credit: Shutterstock

12. Forgetting About Entrances

Every room needs an entryway that is welcoming, and easily accessible. For example, some people will put a couch in their living room that is so huge, people have to awkwardly shuffle themselves around the furniture to get in the room. This is awful! Always consider the ease of movement in every single room.

Make sure you measure your spaces before using light fixtures. Credit: Shutterstock

11. Incorrectly Sized Light Fixtures

Before you buy a light fixture, measure the length from the ceiling to the top of a table, or any other furniture that will be under the fixture. If you are in a room with low ceilings, you may not want to get a huge chandelier that was meant to go in a room with a 10-foot ceiling.

Be sure to choose the right curtains to go with the lighting. Credit: Shutterstock

10. Choosing Curtains Without Considering Lighting

When you are choosing your curtains, you really need to consider how much light the room gets. For example, if you are in a dark room, why would you buy thick drapes? It would be much better to get sheer curtains that would allow the sunlight to come through.  Or, the exact opposite might be true. If the windows face the sun, and they bring too much heat in the summer time, you may need shades that will block the light.

Make sure your living spaces have a color that helps connect seperate spaces. Credit: Shutterstock

9. Forgetting to Use a “Connecting Color”

If you are trying to re-design your entire house from scratch, try to pick a color or theme that carries its way through the entire house. When you walk into a home, and one room is a drastically different theme than the room next to it, that feels very strange. It doesn’t have to be perfectly cohesive, but making an effort on how to flow one room to another will make a huge diference.

Sometimes, people go overboard when choosing a theme. Credit: Shutterstock

8. Going Overboard With a Theme

Sometimes, people decided that they want a room to have a specific theme. Then, they go to the store and buy tons and tons of items that they think fit that theme. While it’s nice to have certain elements in a theme, there reaches a point where it is going overboard. For example, in the photo above, was the fishing net really necessary in this nautical themed room?

Be careful with which lighting you choose for your home. Credit: Shutterstock

7. Bad Lighting Choices

Sometimes, a light fixture can make or break a room. If you decide to choose a chandelier or lamp that doesn’t suit the room, it can sometimes ruin the entire design. So keep the overall design in mind. Is your room industrial? Farmhouse? Modern? Try to go for light fixtures that will blend well into the design of the rest of the room.

Don’t get hyper-focused on something small. Credit: Shutterstock

6. Focusing Too Much on Smaller Elements

If you hyper-focus on small items rather than the bigger picture, that is usually a big mistake. Remember that the overall room needs to flow together. It’s often not possible to start with something small like a piece of art and design a room from there. In fact, it usually works the other way around.

Don’t just copy the rooms from the Ikea catalogue. Credit: Shutterstock

5. Trying to Copy a Photo From Pinterest or a Catalogue

It’s all too easy to browse through Pinterest or a furniture store catalogue, and wish we could just have that exact same room. It’s extremely tempting to just buy everything that we see in the photograph. Keep in mind that a lot of these photos are completely staged, and they are not true-to-life. The dimensions of your house may not fit perfectly with those photos, either. It’s great to take inspiration, but don’t try to copy the exact look. You will probably just end up disappointed.

Wall-to-wall carpeting sometimes looks very tacky. Credit: Shutterstock

4. Wall-To-Wall Carpeting

A lot of apartments come with wall-to-wall carpeting as a default, so people get used to living with it. However, once you have your house, try to serious consider an alternative flooring. It’s okay to put carpet in a small bedroom or a den, but it does not actually look very good. It’s also a lot harder to clean.

Make sure you have space for all of your furnishings. Credit: Shutterstock

3. Purchasing Furnishing Before You Figure Out the Layout

One huge mistake that people make is getting way too excited about certain pieces of furniture, and they buy more than what can actually fit in the room. Before you do that, take measurements. Figure out where the pieces will go in the room. Think about making some sketches and trying to decide where things will go, and then go to the store to make your purchases.

Make sure your area rugs are the correct size. Credit: Shutterstock

2. Buying an Incorrectly Sized Area Rug

Before you buy an area rug, make sure you measure the room first. You might not be able to get the exact measurements that you need, but you should be able to get very close. You may want to show off your hard wood floors, too. So keep that in mind when you are taking your measurements.

Sometimes, colored ceilings look amazing in a home. Credit: Shutterstock

1. Thinking a Ceiling Must Always be White

Most people have white ceilings in their home. However, in some situations, having a different color on the ceiling can look stunning. Check out Pinterest for inspiration to see how people manage to paint their ceiling other colors.

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