Whether you are pondering hiring an interior designer, or you just love reading about or creating beautiful spaces on your own, stay in the know about the latest ‘All things Design & Home Furnishing’ blog.
This is a place where we share new trends, our favorite products, offer design tips for styling your home, and provide snippets of education around design concepts and materials. We also highlight our favorite products that you can shop right off the page!
I wish I could say I learned about these common interior design mistakes from articles or classes. Unfortunately, I had to learn most of these decorating mishaps from ‘the school of hard knocks’. Let’s face it, sometimes in life, we learn more from our mistakes, than our successes.
Furnishing your home is an emotional endeavor. We see interior design styles and home decor all the time that we just LOVE, or at least we do while in the moment. They get us emotionally charged and excited. We even if there is an inkling in the back of our minds that it might not be the best purchase, we find a way to rationalize it and buy them anyway. Sometimes, what seems like trivial design decisions and purchases, can turn into time-consuming and costly mistakes.
No matter what your budget is for home interior design and home furnishings you should know where you should invest. You can splurge on trendy or less expensive pieces but these tips will help you avoid some costly mistakes.
Furnishing your home is a big investment. It’s like building a house, the foundation must be strong, for the house to stand the test of time. Think about the pieces you really need to spend the largest part of your furnishing budget on. Upholstery that is well made and properly cared for, can be with you for decades. The toss pillows, well maybe not. If you are anything like me, I get bored of one color palate. I cannot afford to change everything, but accessories, like pillows, are an easy and inexpensive fix. Sofas, chairs, dining tables, and hardwired lighting, will be around for the long haul. Look for quality construction and timeless lines that work with multiple design styles to make my investment pay off.
Mistake #1 Buying seating for looks vs. comfort and durability
Unfortunately, I learned this one pretty early in my adult life. In my early 20’s, I had to move out of an apartment in a hurry………. I will spare you the details, however, I moved my things into a storage unit until I could find another place. Three months later when I moved into my new place, all of my furniture was ruined by a rodent that got into my unit.
Needless to say, all of that went straight to the dump, which left me with the task of finding a new sofa. The thought of a new sofa was very exciting, and I set out scouring every retailer in Indianapolis until I found one that made my knees melt. After 12 or so stores, I walked into a showroom, and there it was! Perfect size, color, and style, I was in love! Fast forward seven years, two kids and two long-haired Chihuahua’s, my beautiful white duck cloth-covered sofa went from perfection to the purge pile.
I do need to give myself a little credit. What I did right with this transaction was the frame, the coils, and the cushions. I spent the money to ensure I had a good quality sofa, with a lifetime warranty on the frame. The cushions and the coils, seven years later, were as good as the day I purchased it! Where I made the costly mistake was the fabric choice. No matter how clean you keep your home, a white duck cloth sofa will not stand the test of time. After multiple attempts to have it professionally cleaned, and quotes on reupholstering, I had to make the tough decision to just let it go.
There are so many choices in performance fabrics that can give you the look you love and will stand up to the life you live. Just don’t forget to give it a test drive: Have you ever fallen in love with a chair that you just had to have only to find out that it is so uncomfortable that you could not possibly sit in it? You wouldn’t buy a mattress that was uncomfortable, the same goes for seating. Do your research and understand the construction and warranty information before deciding to make a purchase. A sofa that has a kiln-dried wood frame with eight-way tied springs will last a very long time. That fabulous, fun, hot pink velvet sofa that is made of low-grade foam, will not.
Mistake #2 Failing to test paint colors
LOVED that color in the morning? HATED it at night? LOVED it on the blank wall, HATED it next to your kitchen cabinets or bathroom vanity? We have all been there. This is why ensuring that you love the paint color before painting is a must!
Invest in paint boards that are large enough to give you a good idea of what the color will truly look like in your room. I am not talking about the tiny paint chips you pull from your local hardware store, I am talking about paint boards that are 12 x 18 at least. Most Benjamin Moore locations will do this for you for around $15- $25. Yes, it takes a couple of days, and you do have to pay for the sample, however, it is worth every penny when you think about avoiding costly color mistakes. You can tape these directly to your wall and move them around different parts of the room while seeing them during different times of the day. Extra win: you do not have to paint over a bunch of samples on the wall once you have made your choice.
Mistake #3 Not having correct measurements and proportion
You know the old saying “measure twice, cut once”? This also applies to purchasing furnishings. I cannot count the number of times I thought something would fit perfectly in a space (furniture, art, rug) when I was in the store or online, only to get it home and discover that I had not measured the space and it didn’t work.
It is just as important to know the measurements of the pieces you are purchasing. Some things look so much smaller in a large showroom, or the online photo makes a piece look a certain dimension, but in fact, what you are purchasing is too big or too small.
Size matters, but so does proportion. A sofa may “fit” the space, but maybe too small compared to the other furniture in the room. A chair too large overwhelms the space and creates an imbalance in the look of the room. Art that is too small on a tall wall can actually make a room either feel wimpy or empty. If you have tall ceilings and large walls, don’t be afraid to use them! We have all been there, but careful measurements can avoid these pitfalls.
Pro Tip: Many online sites have an application where you can view an item in your room. These applications are great but they do not replace having a floor plan with the correct dimensions for your furnishings.
Mistake #4 Purchasing cheap window treatments
Okay, no one really wants to spend tons of money covering windows BUT, it will cost much more in the long run if the window coverings do not enhance your space and perform the way you need them to. Replacing window treatments that did not stand up, darken the room enough, or fit the style of the room gets expensive. And let’s face it, there really is no “cheap” window treatment.
I have also had many clients who prefer to opt-out of draperies. Although you can get by with having just shades or shutters functionally, there is something about the level of softness, detail, and even noise control that quality drapes add to a room.
As with everything else in home furnishings, there are ever-growing, and almost endless options. There are hardcovers: plantation shutters, shades in every possible fabrication (including wood). Drapes come in so many different styles and fabrics. They can be sheer to let the view in or blackout so you don’t see the light at night. The motorized wall coverings are great for windows that are large or oversized. They open and close and are much more practical than aspirational.
Not only do you need to consider the style and fabric you also need to consider how they will hang and hold up over time. At the end of the day, this is a place to invest if you are able. Think about window treatments like you think about upholstery covering. You want to have them for a long time, so they should be well made and suited for the room as well as beautiful. Investing the first time will save you money in the long term.
Mistake #5 Buying decor too quickly or all at once
I know, I know. You just want to finish decorating so you can just enjoy your newly designed space. I am the same way. The problem is that the home decor I love today, may not be what I love in a year. Just buying decorative accessories or settling on furniture all at once means that you could miss out on finding something that is SO much better later.
No one wants to sit in an empty room without any decor. Getting the most important pieces, like seating, beds and dining is critical. It is amazing how often, “Oh that will work”, becomes the mistake I made when I find the PERFECT side table, lamp, art. Now I have a filled space and I have nowhere to put that new love object. Waiting for the perfect piece can really pay off over time.
Remember that ‘Patience is a virtue and an advantage‘! The bonus in slowing down the decorating process is that the longer you live in a space, the more you come to really understand it. You discover the size, construction, and color style of your home. It will reflect your evolving style, your travels, new experiences and will look like it was curated over time! Need of some inspiration? Schedule an inspirational call with me to discuss your home and your decorating needs.