When it comes to interior design, the process can be intimidating. Sorting through thousands of pages of throw pillow options can quickly become overwhelming. But while personal tastes may differ, some rules remain steadfast. No matter if a decorator is going for Scandinavian minimalism to mid-century modern, if you want your home to look classy, here are the design mistakes that ought to be avoided.
1. Choosing Style Over Comfort
Shopping for new furniture can be a never-ending search through the dark hole of the Internet. There are just so many styles and shapes, so how does one person choose? With all of those options, sometimes it might be enticing to buy the most interesting piece of furniture in the store that pops out from a sea of similar-looking items.
But always remember with every design choice that a home is not a museum. Things within a home are meant to be used, not stared at. Sure, that ultra-modern swing chair might be eye catching, but is it functional? Will anyone actually want to sit in it? So try out that chair before buying, because one should choose comfort over style — or, ideally, comfort and style.
2. Pushing Everything Against The Walls
People sometimes do it without realizing, and push all of their furniture against a wall assuming that it is the only option. But instead, let’s not back ourselves into a corner when it comes to laying out a floor plan.
For some rooms, pushing furniture against the walls might be the best way to create space. But for larger living rooms, this practice can create an unnecessary amount of distance between people, straining the ability to talk to each other. Instead, encourage conversation. Don’t be afraid to expose the back of a couch by placing it in the middle of a room.
3. Making Everything Match
One of the most common questions that people ask themselves when picking items to place in their redecorated rooms is: “will this fit in with the rest of the things I bought?” It can quickly feel like the easiest way to ensure that a room ties together is by filling a cart with matching items. And that would be a huge mistake.
Matching everything in a room can turn out to be an overwhelming eyesore. A good rule of thumb is that if a room is painted a particular hue, do not use that same exact shade anywhere else in the room. Instead, branch out a little. Try picking a pillow with a slightly darker or lighter tone.
4. Using Any Fake Plants
Having a home filled with plants is now more in style than ever before. All over social media, accounts are littered with pictures depicting lush, green living rooms that almost resemble greenhouses. But the reality is that all of that greenery takes a lot of work.
For those who do not have the time or do not have a thumb that’s particularly green, purchasing fake, plastic plants might seem enticing. But we are going to stop everyone right there — step away from the fake greenery. These plastic plants can easily look tacky in a home. Opt for no plants over fake plants.
5. Picking The Wrong-Sized Rug
Nothing ties a room together like the perfect rug. And there are so many factors when considering which rug to purchase, including color, weight, and, most importantly, size. Purchasing the wrong-sized rug can instantly throw the proportions of a room totally out of whack.
When it comes to rugs, size matters most. For those styling a large room, go with a rug that is able to fit at least the front legs of the furniture surrounding it. For bedrooms, either find a rug that can cover the majority of the floor, or select one that can fit under two-thirds of the bed.
6. Picking Wall Paint Before Furniture
Anyone who has ever visited a paint store knows that paint manufacturers sell pretty much every single color under the sun. And for any color they do not sell, many will mix up a custom can of paint to match a person’s specifications. But know what doesn’t come in every single color? That perfect dream couch.
This is why interior design experts say that anyone looking to do some redecorating should pick out their furniture way before they pick out any colors for wallpapers. Another tip: if ordering online, wait to see the product in-person before picking a paint color. Sometimes, colors appear differently on a computer screen.
7. Keeping Oak Kitchen Cabinets
Oak cabinets were once common staples for any 1990s kitchen renovation. But now, it’s become much more common to replace old, out-of-style oak cabinets during a home revamp. Don’t have the funds to purchase a completely new set of kitchen cabinets? There are tons of inexpensive ways to give an oak-stained kitchen a facelift.
Here’s how it’s done: first, take a sanding strip — or a liquid sander for larger projects — and strip the varnish off of the cabinets. Then, cover the oak wood with a primer, and finally add a paint color. Some chic color options include darker stains, a clean white hue, or giving the kitchen a fun pop of color with a lighter pastel paint.
8. Sticking To A Theme
We get it, some homeowners are just really passionate about a particular topic or type of design. But no matter what those passions might include, themed rooms are never the way to go. However, that does not mean a DIY designer cannot display their interests throughout their homes.
Instead of creating something like a movie-themed room, try incorporating little trinkets from that movie and display them tastefully throughout the house as little pops of personality. Also, try to avoid an out-of-place theme, like having a room filled with tropical decor in a home that is hundreds of miles away from the closest palm tree.
9. Going Overboard With Throw Pillows
We do not mean to throw cold water on anyone’s dreams, but, yes, there is indeed such a thing as too many throw pillows. Throw them here, throw them there, but please do not throw them all into one spot in a home.
Throw pillows can add another level of personality to a home design, but it definitely is not fun to have to move all of those tiny decorative pillows every time that someone wants to sit on the couch or on the bed. So make sure not to go overboard. It might look beautiful in the home decor catalogs, but when a piece of furniture is covered in pillows it just becomes impractical.
10. Overcrowding The Walls
The key to any successful interior design is striking the right balance. If one spot is filled with furniture, maybe balance it with some cleaner, less cluttered spaces. But nowhere is this rule more important than when considering where to hang art, and how to arrange it.
Gallery walls are very much in style, with pictures grouped and ordered to create a statement. But make sure not to overdo it. Even if someone has the finest art collection in the world, filling the walls can be overwhelming for the eye. Instead, give those beautiful works of art their own chance to shine by paring down the artwork or spreading it out.
11. Providing Inadequate Lighting
While many DIY interior designers might be getting caught up on picking out our furniture, rugs, and paint colors, lighting is often an aspect of a room that goes ignored. But even the most inspired home design can become a flop if it is paired with poor or inadequate lighting.
For some, this might mean lighting that is overly harsh. To solve this, try purchasing a few soft lamps so that those bright, overhead lights are not the only option. If a room is a bit too dark, try using light bulbs with a higher wattage or install a dimmer function so that no one has to strain their eyes to appreciate the home decor.
12. Cluttering A Space
Our homes are an extension of our lives. And over time in life, people collect things along the way, whether they be collectibles from trips, tickets from memorable experiences, or trinkets that make us happy. Inevitably, those little things find homes in our own homes — and sometimes they can end up taking it over.
While it might be tempting to put all of those little knickknacks on display, try not to ultimately clutter a room with too many objects. Scale it back a bit. Either spread out those trinkets around the home, or keep some tucked away. Too many small things in one room can make a place feel jumbled and overwhelming.
13. Picking The Cheapest Option
The costs of redesigning even a single room can add up really quickly. Even just one small pillow can really take a chunk out of one’s budget. So oftentimes, DIY designers may decide to go for the cheapest option possible just to scratch the itch of replacing that problematic eyesore of a sofa or table.
But consider this: whatever one buys for their home is something that they will literally have to live with. Going with the cheaper of two options might be great now, but will it break more easily or become just another thing to replace later on? Instead, maybe wait until the preferred item goes on sale or save up over time in order to splurge later.
14. Adding Extravagant, Useless Pieces
It is hard to resist getting a statement piece. Just take a look at Joey Tribbiani on the show Friends and his famed, life-sized, white porcelain dog statue. Did he need it? No. Did he love it? Yes. Did it need to be on display in his home? We are going to say that it probably did not.
So before anyone adds one of these large, extravagant pieces to their online shopping cart, think long and hard about that purchase. That piece may not be worth spending the money on, as it has little to no use in a room. That money could probably be better spent elsewhere.
15. Designing An Excessively Formal Room
A home, especially a dining room, is a place where hosts should feel excited to receive their guests, and where guests should feel instantly welcome and invited. But nothing says “stay away” like a overly pristine, formal, and rigid dining room.
While having a grand dining room was once en vogue, those days are long gone. Nowadays, give that living room a boost by doing away with the brooding artwork, the glass-paned china cabinet, and the uncomfortable wooden chairs. Instead, make a dining room an inviting place where dinner guests will want to sit even after the meal is over.
16. Designing Each Room Separately
Each room in a home might be styled differently. Perhaps a child’s room is brighter than the rest of the house, or the office reflects the style of the one person who uses it. But a good rule of thumb is that no matter the slight differences, rooms in a home should have a certain level of cohesion between one another.
Rooms ought to flow into one another so that one does not feel like a vast departure from the one before. If most of the home is mid-century modern, try not to make one room of antiques. Instead, spread the collection throughout the home so that the house does not seem like it is broken up into sections.
17. Settling On A Piece That’s Less Than Perfect
Whether someone is super excited about decorating their home or just ready to get the whole process over with, sometimes we can purchase things that did not exactly match what we had pictured in our minds, but are close enough. Try to resist that temptation.
Settling on a piece, despite it not being the perfect option someone was searching for, is always a mistake. It might take some extra time, but searching for the piece that matches up with every need will be worth those extra few days when it comes to a lifetime of having to live with that piece of furniture.
18. Avoiding Any And All Color
For some people, colors can be intimidating, whether that means incorporating a dark or a bright color palette into a home design. The knee-jerk reaction for those color-averse DIY designers might be to avoid the risk all together and instead go for a neutral look of tan, beige, white, and ivory.
But that is the wrong way to go. Colorless rooms filled with only neutral accents lack the style that makes a personal interior design unique and special. Instead, these rooms usually end up not feeling particularly lived in, resembling sad hotel suites sorely lacking the personality that comes with a well-decorated home.
19. Toilet Cover Rug Sets
We hate to flush anyone’s home design dreams down the toilet, but this trend simply must come to an end. That’s right, we are talking about the strange practice of matching a toilet rug to its seat cover. In fact, let’s do away with plush seat covers all together.
In reality, no one is actually using the top of their toilet seat as added space to sit down and have a good chat, so what is the point of making this particular part of the toilet plush? Instead, do away with the cover and use a rectangular mat — and not the kind that is cut to fit around the base of a toilet.
20. Hanging Art Too High
Beyond selecting the right furniture, it is important to have the right art featured in a home. Art provides the perfect way to provide a little more personality to a home design. But even the finest art is in for a bit of a downgrade if it is hung improperly on the wall.
The most common mistake when it comes to artwork is hanging it too high or too low on a wall. It is always best to hang art is right at eye-level. A good rule of thumb is that art should be hung about 57 to 60 inches from the floor.
21. Not Properly Measuring Before Bringing Things Home
Measuring spaces seems like a pretty standard move when it comes to purchasing furniture, but some might be surprised by how often people either forget this step or do it incorrectly. When measuring a wall for furniture, make sure to take into account the fact that just because a sofa fits does not mean it is the right size for a particular space.
Ideally, there should be wall space on either side of most furniture pieces so that a room does not feel too crowded. Also, take into account other furniture in a room to ensure that there is enough space for everything. Take care not to ignore this rule for smaller items; even a simple house plant should be measured for a space.
22. Ignoring Doorknobs and Fixtures
Opening the door to a newly-completed renovated space can feel like opening a window and getting a wafting breeze of fresh air. It’s so refreshing and exciting. But take a look down at that door. Is it outfitted with an out-of-date knob? Well, then the work on this renovated space is not completely done.
It might seem like a small change, but switching out the doorknobs can open up totally new doors to home design and makes all the difference in a house. For an instant upgrade, switch out old brass doorknobs with something more unique. And don’t stop there: make drawers feel brand new by giving them some new hardware as well.
23. Vertical Blinds
In the 1980s and into the 1990s, vertical blinds were all the rage. From the bedroom windows to the sliding glass patio doors, this particular style could be found just about everywhere. But nowadays, vertical blinds have suffered a hard fall from grace.
According to interior design experts, it does not matter how perfectly a room is styled, if there are vertical drapes on the windows the design will never reach its full potential. It seems small, but just simply replacing vertical blinds with a chic set of drapes or blinds that can be pulled up and down horizontally can make all the difference.
24. Ignoring The Entryway
They say that first impressions are important, and that phrase is not just reserved for meeting new people. Even in a home, first impressions are everything. But often when people are decorating their spaces, they may overlook or ignore their foyer or entryway.
Think of the entryway of one’s home as a landing pad. It is the first thing that anyone sees when they open the front door, and it is the first space that greets a person after a long, hard day. So make sure not to leave the entryway neglected. Instead, turn that small area into a “wow” moment, and start the home tour off right.
25. Not Testing Wall Paint Colors Before Painting
Picking out a paint color and running home with the full bucket of colorful goodness can be super exciting. It will make any eager DIY designer want to start getting to work right away. But slow down before making one of the most common interior design mistakes there is.
Before anyone paints any wall in their home, they should first make sure to test the color. Pick up a small sample container of a paint at any store (they usually come either free or at a discounted price) and paint small blocks to test the color. Place squares near a window and farther away from the window, and see how the color reacts to light at different times of the day.
26. Steer Clear of Floral Patterned Furniture
When it comes to high fashion, you’ll see no shortage of people sporting some cool floral designs on their shirts and pants. However, they don’t carry that same charm when brought into the world of interior design. However, that doesn’t stop people from sporting the pattern.
When anyone drenched in the world of hipness sees a floral pattern on a sofa, chair or on wallpaper, they are thinking about their 90-year-old grandmother. If you haven’t been alive for at least a full century, you might want to take any you own with a floral pattern in your home out to the dumper.
27. Unorganized Clutter
It’s nice to have a house full of distraction. Few people want a house that consists of a white walls, a bed and one sad hanging lightbulb. We want a place that people will be interested in. They’ll want to look at every little trinket on your shelf. However, some people take their clutter a bit too far.
Some people get so carried away with collections and books that their apartment becomes a sea of things. That unorganized clutter is in no way endearing. Honestly, that mess is a simple hop and skip away from being on one of those hoarding shows.
28. Keeping Those Retro Electronics Around
At some point, you get to a place where you’re happy with what you have and don’t feel like you have to keep jumping on the electronic bandwagon. While you probably don’t mind having a 1980s box television in your room and Super Nintendo, you’re guests might.
While items like that once made your home look stylish and trendy, they now will make it look dated and tacky. If you don’t mind looking old, then great, but if you want to come off as trendy and fashionable, your going to want to invest in some of the newest technological wonders.
29. Cover Tables With Doilies
Everybody is purchasing those doilies by the dozens and making their tables look elegant and trendy. Table doilies are all the rage, especially if you happen to be in 1950s Mississippi. However, nobody with any sense of interior design is going to be busting out those doilies in the 21st century.
Not only do these doilies scream out old fashioned, but they are in no way practical to own. If you spill something on those cheap doilies or even fold a corner, they’ll be completely ruined. To top things off, they insult a table. Those doilies take away from some sad carpenters hard work.
30. Don’t Hang Gaudy Shower Curtains
You should always keep in mind that shower curtains definitely aren’t the showstopper of your bathroom and they shouldn’t be. Some people delve so far into the fancy and the formal design sphere that they’ll even try to make something filthy as a bath curtain look clean and pristine.
While shower curtains will never be as hip and cool as a trendy glass door, you can keep that shower curtain cool by going as basic as possible. Nothing says young and hip like a very unimpressive, yet clean shower curtain. Take note right now, shower curtains don’t ever have to be that nice.
31. Avoid All La-Z-Boy Furniture
If you live alone in a one room shack and only care about your comforts, La-Z-Boy furniture might be the way to go. However, if you care even a tidbit for good interior design, you’ll drag that clunky chair of yours out to the garbage.
While La-Z-Boy furniture is extremely comfortable, it’s some of the most clunky furniture on the market. Clunky doesn’t look good in any living room. The worst part of this brand is that most of their pieces can only fit one person. That means you’d have to deck out your living room with several one seaters.
32. Shag Carpeting Anywhere and Everywhere
Let’s take a look back in the 1970s when things like wallpaper and shag carpets were all the rage. One would brag to no end about the darling shag carpet they had installed in their rooms. They’d talk about how soft it was and how nice it felt between their toes.
Wake up, people, those times are long gone and so should shag carpeting. However, it doesn’t happen. You can go to Walmart, Kmart and even Target and see some of that tacky shag carpet on display. The worst thing about this awful carpeting is probably how hard it is to wash. Talk about having a bad headache on your hands.
33. Showing Off Your Pickle Jars
Who knows why people keep their pickle jars on display. While one may think that it makes them look cultured and wise to the ways of the kitchen, it’s actually just grossing out everyone you have over. They’re probably looking up at those pickle jars and wondering what you’ll ever use them for.
It’s time to take a stand. Grab those old pickle jars up off the shelf and put them into the pantry and make sure nobody sees them again. While you are at it, get those spices too. You don’t need to display your food for your neighbors.
34. Keeping That Old Wallpaper
When it comes to the interior design of the average household, wallpaper was on top for quite awhile. Since the 1930s it’s been in and out of fashion, but was most recently popular in the 1960s and 1970s. The wallpaper craze even spread into the 1980s and 1990s and it probably shouldn’t have.
Today, if you have any kind of groovy wallpaper in your home, you should tear it off the walls this instant. Unless you’re happy living in 1963, you probably don’t want your house looking tacky. You’ll be doing yourself, your friends and your family a big favor by opting for some paint on the wall.
35. Cover Every Open Space With Framed Pictures
There are a few thousand people out there that can’t stand the sight of a white wall or an open space. If they see that blank space, they feel this huge need to fill with a poster or picture. While it sure does get a lot of attention, you actually won’t be practicing good interior designing sense.
The last thing you want is a wall full of pictures. A few framed pictures here and there are perfectly fine, but when you have a wall full of them, you’ll have a house that screams great grandparent. Instead of having a huge framed photo collection, just buy a digital picture frame and sport your grandchildren in rotation.
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