25 Interior Design Mistakes to Avoid (and What to Do Instead!)

Whether you’re working with a clean slate or committing to a complete design overhaul, we have your back when it comes to avoiding common interior design mistakes!

Here are 25 Interior Design Mistakes to Avoid (and what to do instead!)

#1 – Hanging Art Too High or Too Low

Hanging Art Too High or Too Low
Hanging Art Too High or Too Low

Hanging a picture too high or too low draws negative attention to gaping or congested wall spaces. In short, this interior design mistake can turn a work of art into an eyesore. Instead, place your photos and wall art at eye level to create a pleasing view. It’s a fun, free, easy fix that will improve the look and feel of your home!  

#2 – Buying Furniture That Is Too Big Or Too Small

If you’re as busy as I am, you may rely on the ‘eyeballing it’ technique when choosing furniture for your home. Furniture that is too big will overwhelm your space, making it appear crowded. Conversely, furniture that is too small will make your space looking sparse and underwhelming. Avoid this design foul by measuring each room and each piece of furniture to ensure your furnishings fit your space just right.

#3 – Hoarding Hand-Me-Down Furniture

Hoarding Hand-Me-Down Furniture
Hoarding Hand-Me-Downs

You love your grandma. That doesn’t mean you have to love her puce loveseat. If grandma’s old furniture does not have a place in your space, don’t feel guilty! Be careful about filling your home with hand-me-down pieces or thrift store finds, as their colors, shapes, and patterns restrict your design choices. Instead of keeping a piece of furniture that does not work for your home out of sentimental value, give it to a family member or donate it to charity so someone in need may enjoy it.

#4 – Valuing Style Over Comfort

When you’re constantly pinning gorgeous spreads and obsessing over HGTV design shows, getting preoccupied with the way decor looks instead of the way decor feels is easy to do. But don’t forget the most important detail: livability. Those industrial, tin dining stools may look chic, but they aren’t suitable to sit in every night for dinner. Avoid this common decorating mistake by making comfort a top priority when it comes to choosing decor.

#5 – Having Tile Countertops

Changing out countertops is one way to give your kitchen or bathroom a facelift. While tile countertops were popular in the late 70s and early 80s, they continue to be attractive to some homeowners because they are cheap, DIY, and come in many shapes, colors, materials, and sizes. Unfortunately, the grout makes tile countertops are a real chore to keep clean. To avoid this design mistake, replace old countertops with granite or marble countertops. In addition to looking modern and luxurious, they are durable and easy to clean.

#6 – Having Shag Carpeting

Having Shag Carpeting
Having Shag Carpeting

Dating back to the 60s, shag carpeting was popular due to its unusual appearance, cushioned comfort, and colorful options. Eventually, the shag carpeting craze ended. But like most trends, there has been a recent resurgence. Avoid this interior design error by installing low pile carpeting instead!

#7 – Having Wood Paneling

In the 1970s, wood paneling was all the rage. But traditional wood paneling makes rooms feel dingy, dark, and unwelcoming. That darkness can make rooms seem smaller than they actually are. If you have wood paneling, brighten up the panels with a fresh coat of paint, carefully chosen wallpaper, or remove the wood paneling entirely!

#8 – Having Linoleum Flooring

Linoleum may be cheap, but it also bubbles from spills and is easily dented. Heeled shoes and heavy objects can do irreparable damage to linoleum floors. If you are updating your home, invest in something modern and durable like hardwood or tile.

#9 – Having a Futon

Having a Futon
Having a Futon

Budget-friendly and practical for young adults, futons can function as a couch or a bed. Unless you’re between 18 and 21, ditch the college dorm aesthetic, and opt for the plush appearance and versatility of a sleeper sofa.

#10 – Having Wallpaper Borders

Whether they are lining the top of the wall or creating a faux chair-rail effect, this wallpaper border trend needs to be left behind. Luckily, this is an easy fix and can be removed in an afternoon. Add a fresh coat of paint after taking this down, and your room will thank you!

#11 – Having Wicker Furniture

Wicker is one of the oldest furniture-making techniques in recorded history. Even though the first wicker furnishing found its way to the United States on the Mayflower in 1620, it gained real popularity in the 1960s. When it comes to modern interior design, wicker furniture looks fabulous on a front porch or patio. But it is a design ‘don’t’ to decorate the interior rooms of your home with wicker furnishings.

#12 – Having Vertical Blinds

Having Vertical Blinds
Having Vertical Blinds

Not only are these blinds notoriously difficult to open and close, they create a clunky silhouette and collect all kinds of dust, dirt, and germs. To avoid this interior design error, replace your vertical blinds with sleek and sustainable, bamboo window treatments. You may also choose to opt for something more opulent: Flowing curtains made of luxe fabrics or prints make a luxurious, dramatic impression.

#13 – Having Popcorn Ceilings

Popcorn ceilings began as a way to cut corners and mask the imperfections in an imperfect ceiling. This former trend is not only outdated, it is potentially hazardous: Many popcorn ceilings installed prior to 1977 contain asbestos. According to the EPA’s website, “asbestos is a mineral fiber that occurs in rock and soil” that can have devastating, long-term health effects. To ensure your safety, hire a professional to remove the ‘popcorn’ from the ceiling and to create a smooth surface.

#14 – Having Pastel Bathroom Fixtures

Pastel bathroom fixtures have been popular since the 30s. This trend lasted well into the 70s! If you’re home features pink tubs, green toilets, and blue sinks, there is a good chance it hasn’t been renovated in the last 50 years. In other words, say goodbye to the pastels, and opt for a fresh, clean, neutral look.

#15 – Featuring Too Many Design Trends

Featuring Too Many Design Trends
Featuring Too Many Design Trends

Don’t be a fad follower! Outfitting your home with all of the latest trends is a sure way to make your home look dated in just a short while. Avoid the temptation by picking a few trends that really speak to you and your personality, and include them in your space.  

#16 – Having Toilet Rugs

Bathrooms should never, ever be carpeted. In the bathroom, carpets are breeding ground for germs. If you’d like to put a small rug in your bathroom, do not a toilet rugs contoured to wrap around the base of the fixture. Instead, opt for a single, rectangular rug. This will instantly update the room and give a more modern look. (The little rug is easy to throw in the wash as needed, too!)

#17 – Misusing Prints

When it comes to design, taking risks is a must. But you also need to know when enough to enough–especially when prints are involved. Prints can be so reflective of personality and style, but going too bold or too matchy-matchy can ruin the effect. Don’t mix-and-match patterns, and don’t saturate the entire room in the same pattern. To avoid this design mistake, choose one print–have it be on a statement piece like a couch or bedspread–and then use complementary colors throughout the rest of the room.

#18 – Having Dated Hardware

Having Dated Hardware
Having Dated Hardware

Make small, impactful changes to your kitchen and bathroom cabinets by replacing the dated or damaged hardware with something sleek and timeless. The best thing about this design project is that you don’t have to be a seasoned DIYer to complete it. You can complete this project cheaply and in just a few minutes.

#19 – Being Too Formal

Remember, your house is not a museum. You’re meant to live in it. When designing your space, keep in mind that each space needs to be practical above all else. Too formal a room is uncomfortable and uninviting. Find a balance.

#20 – Having Floating Rugs

Having Floating Rugs
Having Floating Rugs

A floating rug is a decorative piece of fabric that is not touching a piece of furniture; it creates a disproportionate room. To solve this design issue, make sure you get a rug large enough to touch all furniture!

#21 – Having Couch Covers

These protective coverings never get washed enough, never seem to match the rest of the furniture, and can come across as tacky. Go for stylish throws instead.

#22 – Having Bare Windows

I would expect to see bare windows in a scary movie or haunted house, not a living space. Leaving your windows bare make a room a bit off putting. This is a missed opportunity for fun color. Avoid the drab window by opting in for curtains that warm up a room and give some personality.

#23 – Having a Fear of Color

Having a Fear of Color
Having a Fear of Color

The all-white rooms and grey fad have created boring spaces that feel more like a doctor’s office than a warm home. Don’t be afraid of color! Add a pop of color to make the room warmer and more inviting.

#24 – Having Too Many Knicknacks

The mason jars, frames, and souvenirs are cluttering shelves and collecting dust. For your photos, opt for a gallery wall instead. Display your most treasured objects in a display case, and toss what you can to declutter.

#25 – Choosing Fake Decor

Fake flowers and fake fruit are no-nos. They just collect dust! Fresh fruit bowls are a great pop of color, as are the $5 supermarket flower bouquets. If you’re not a fan of live decor, go for dried materials like willow or bamboo for a natural look.

There you have it! 25 Interior Design Mistakes to Avoid (and What to Do Instead!) If you are just moving into your new home, you can start with this list and make decorating a breeze! If you are revamping your home to make it better or suit your style, these tips will come in handy when looking for a place to start!

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