The key to making mistakes? You don’t let them stop you. Here are 21 decorating mistakes that I made and how I fixed them.
I’ve made a few decorating mistakes before—just a few.
I STILL MAKE THEM EVERY DAY.
Every. Single. Day.
Now don’t get me wrong. I get stuff right, too. But here’s the thing. Most of the stuff that I get right now? I got wrong once upon a time. It’s all about trying and figuring out what works and what doesn’t and replacing things and discovering what you did right and what you did wrong.
Because just like my mother said about stirrup pants, bright blue eyeshadow, and legwarmers.
It’s always a good idea to learn from your mistakes.
Here are 21 decorating mistakes I’ve made (and how I fixed them).
Mistake 1: Picking the paint color first
This world is full of amazing paint colors.
Paint is an easy and inexpensive way to change up a room.
But here’s the thing—starting with the paint color is a decorating mistake. You will be in for a world of frustration trying to find accessories and furniture and fabric that goes with that paint color. Start with your statement piece and choose the paint color from that. For example, in this room, I started with this rug and picked the paint color for the walls, Naval SW 6244.
Solution: Start with your statement piece first and use that to select your paint color
Mistake 2: Not checking to see if your sofa’s cushions are removable
This is the living room from the farmhouse. When we remodeled the room, I wanted it to be symmetrical after we added the built-ins and I thought two love seats would be perfect in the space.
The only challenge? Telling your husband you want two love seats after he just found the extra money to refinish your wood floors. Yikes.
I knew they had to be affordable and neutral with nail heads and heavy upholstery to stand up to kids and pets and red Kool-Aid. These mini-sofas fit the bill. They were under $500 each and I got them from the Chris Madden Collection at JC Penney years ago. I was in such a hurry to order them that I forgot to check and see if the cushions were removable. When they showed up, the stationary back cushions didn’t seem like a deal-breaker.
Until I lived with them.
Stationary back cushions are hard to clean and kind of slump down after a while and oddly push the bottom cushions out.
Solution: You can fix those attached cushions with this one simple tip.
Mistake 3: Don’t forget about the ceilings
Did you know that ceilings are the fifth wall?
It’s an entire decorating opportunity that so many of us forget about.
The ceiling can make an entire decorating statement. Here’s an entire post with 7 design ideas you can use for your ceiling inspiration.
Solution: Include the ceiling in your decorating plans. Add a ceiling medallion or paint a pattern or use flat ceiling paint to freshen it up.
Mistake 4: Not adding enough greenery
I’m not sure why I forgot about greenery.
Hello captain greenery obvious.
Forgetting the greenery is a common decorating mistake. Greenery is good for the heart and the soul and the neutrals in a room. It gives a room air. It helps it breathe. You want to add a little greenery to each space to create movement and life in the room.
Solution: Here’s a simple tip to add greenery to your room for free.
Mistake 5: Forgetting to add pops of color
I decorated this bedroom in almost all white.
We lived with it for a little and realized something was missing. All it needed was a hint of color.
Nothing too overwhelming.
Nothing too much.
Just a little bit of blush and gold to make it feel alive. Oh. And we added greenery.
For that—please refer back to decorating mistake number four.
Solution: If your room is neutral, add a pop of color to the space to make it feel finished.
Mistake 6: Underestimating the ceiling fan
When we first started redecorating the bedrooms upstairs I knew that I knew that I KNEW I was getting rid of the ceiling fans.
Ceiling fans are so 2011 I told anyone who would listen and promptly took them out of most of the rest of the house, too.
Except? Except I live in TEXAS. The land of the 100-degree days. It was a giant decorating mistake. My electric bill did not thank me.
And so? I went back and put in ceiling fans like these.
They have so many amazing options for ceiling fans now that are industrial and beautiful and farmhouse or simple fans like this one that you don’t even notice.
Solution: Sometimes ceiling fans are a necessity in a space.
|| eucalyptus stems ||
Mistake 7: Forgetting to add mirrors
There are so many spaces that I decorated in this house that felt like a decorating mistake. They felt a little flat, like the original design for this back entry.
I wanted something that would bring a little light into the space.
And then a commenter suggested a mirror.
Here’s the entryway and a mirror that came from my mother and used to hang in the old butler’s pantry.
Sometimes a mirror doesn’t have to reflect everything perfectly like this mirrored staircase project.
Just the light.
Solution: When decorating the walls in a room, try to add a mirror to the space.
Mistake 8: Choosing the wrong size area rug
It’s so easy to skimp on an area rug.
They can be a little expensive.
But truth? Nothing makes a room more awkward than a too-small area rug in a space. Make sure to choose an area rug that covers your floor with about a 12″ border around the room (you can adjust this for random room sizes.
Here are a few suggestions to help your rug budget. You can layer rugs like I did here or even combine two smaller rugs to create a larger rug like I did in this room.
Solution: Make sure your area rug covers the floor in your room.
Mistake 9: Following a trend that isn’t your house
Case in point. When we moved into this house, I wanted to decorate it just like the farmhouse and decorate the space with farmhouse neutrals.
Except this house isn’t a farmhouse
The rooms are a little fancier and all that farmhouse decor didn’t really work in the space. It just felt like the house wasn’t happy. It needed color.
So I listened to the house.
And changed it up.
And gave it color.
I kind of surprised myself with the bold choices in this room, but it worked.
Solution: Sometimes it’s important to understand that you have to listen to your home to figure out what works for it.
Mistake 10: Not controlling clutter
If your surfaces in your home are covered with clutter? It’s hard to see the decorating underneath. Not controlling clutter can be a simple decorating mistake.
Here are some simple tips to control clutter in your home:
- How to declutter your home in 20 minutes
- How to declutter a room in 10 minutes a day
- Nine simple organizing tips for your home
- How to organize your pantry cabinet
- How I organize a day in my life
Solution: Find a place for everything and keep everything in its place.
Mistake 11: Not using enough curtain rings
This is a mistake I’ve made over and over and over again.
I’ll hang the curtain up and it’s glumpy.
It hangs down in places and doesn’t look right.
It’s because I didn’t add enough curtain rings to the curtain.
Solution: Use 2 packages of rings per curtain to make sure the curtain hangs properly.
Mistake 12: Choosing design over comfort
This is one decorating mistake I make all the time.
I design a room and then forget that we have to live there.
If your rooms are pretty and people can’t use them? It’s a design fail.
Solution: Look for ways to incorporate comfort into your design, like adding down inserts to pillows like these.
Mistake 13: Pushing furniture against the wall
The natural inclination is to push furniture against the wall.
This makes a room feel stilted.
Instead? Pull the furniture into the space. Pull chairs into the room. Pull your couch away from the wall. Give the room space to breathe.
Solution: Add your furniture to the conversation.
Mistake 14: Not having an anchor piece in the room
Every room needs a conversation piece.
Something that anchors the space and helps the room to feel important.
It can be a hutch like this one in the kitchen.
Adding the hutch against the wall draws the eye to the end of the room and helps provide a foundation for the design.
Solution: Build your design around a statement piece for the room.
Mistake 15: Not having enough lighting in the room
It took me a while to discover this mistake.
I’d add a ceiling fixture and call it a day.
Except every room needs at least three points of light.
Don’t forget about table lamps. Look at what tasks you need for a room and add light accordingly.
Solution: Add three points of light in every room.
Mistake 16: Forgetting to add unique architecture to a home
You want to add a little bit of architecture to every room.
It doesn’t have to be a giant project.
- It could be a mini barn door.
- Or simple door molding.
- Or as extensive as built-ins created from kitchen cabinets.
- Or a faux window transom
The key is to add features to your home that help it stand out in a crowd.
Solution: Add architecture to your home to create a unique design for your spaces.
Mistake 17: Forgetting that every seating space should have a surface
This goes back to mistake #12. Designing for real life.
It’s important that everyone has a place to put their drink.
Or their phone.
Or anything they have in their hand.
It’s important that each seat has a flat surface it can have access to.
Solution: Make sure to add side tables or coffee tables in a seating area.
Mistake 18: Spending too much money on furniture
There is NO need to spend a lot of money furnishing your home.
Not. One. Bit.
Especially when there are thrift stores and yard sales and your attic to shop.
Here are a few simple furniture transformations to get you started:
Solution: Shop thrift stores and yard sales for bargains and then add your own personality to them.
|| blue and white chairs ||
Mistake 19: Hanging your curtains too low
When hanging your curtains, you want to hang them above the moldings. Hanging them too low can be one of the simplest decorating mistakes.
This pulls the eye up and makes the room feel larger.
You can make curtains yourself to the right length and here’s a simple, easy tip to line them.
Solution: Make sure your curtains are hung above the molding or window.
Mistake 20: Choosing artwork that’s not unique
Find interesting, creative things to hang on your wall.
You want your artwork to show off your personality.
Here are some simple ideas for artwork in your home that you can create yourself.
- This simple art project
- These creative ideas
- This wall of mirrors project
- These simple artwork ideas
Solution: Let your personality show through when choosing art for your walls.
Mistake 21: Forgetting that each house is unique
I hesitated to put this one.
I know it sounds a little like I’m writing a Hallmark card for a house.
When I arrived here I decorated with what I knew. Neutrals. And I love neutrals.
They are my go-to. They are my friends. They calm down my heart and make me smile and want to sink into a chair with a really good book and the sounds of violins filling the air. I loved them in the farmhouse.
But here’s the thing. Each house has its own story. Each house has its own vision. It’s not like any other house on the planet.
The house knows it’s heart. This house needed color and mirrors and light and pattern and texture mixed in with vintage design. It was different than the farmhouse, but it knew what it needed.
A house knows what will make it soar.
Solution: Sometimes the key is simply to listen.
All these decorating mistakes.
All these lessons learned come down to one message: Be true to who you are
Don’t follow rabbit trails on Pinterest.
I get it. I understand. It is so easy to do. But at the end of the day, there is only one you and what you love for your home will always be perfect no matter what someone else dictates with the latest trends.
Trust your heart.
After all, you are a rock star.
PS If you have any decorating mistakes you’ve made, share away. It will make my mistakes feel better.
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