7 Decorating Mistakes We All Make in Our First Homes

published Jan 29, 2019
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(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)

Few things are more exhilarating than moving into your first real home. But as fun as decorating it can be, it’s also easy to make a lot of rookie mistakes.

So to help make the process of decorating your first home go a little smoother, we called on a few of our favorite designers to share the mistakes they (and their clients) seem to always make. From awkward furniture arrangements to picking the wrong paint color, these are the decorating mistakes we all make in our first homes.

1. Not Envisioning the Entire Home

“A common mistake I see in a lot of first homes is that people have not considered a complete vision. They don’t think about how one room will relate to the next, but instead they tackle the project room by room which can create a fragmented whole.

It’s important to think about what you want the end result to be and how each space will flow together. It’s okay if you need to slowly decorate over time due to budget, but just always keep the whole picture in mind.” —Paloma Contreras, Interior Designer and Blogger, La Dolce Vita

2. Rushing the Process

“Where do I begin? I rushed the entire process of decorating my first home in an effort to get things looking pulled together quickly. I wound up buying way too much IKEA furniture when I should have just been patient and saved up for a few nicer pieces to mix in!” —Shea McGee, Co-Founder, Studio McGee

3. Not Testing Paint Colors

“I was convinced a paint color I bought was the perfect match for the space and rather than doing a tester, my husband and I confidently proceeded to paint the entire hallway (which incidentally was fairly complicated with many crooks and crannies and took a lot of hours!). The moment it dried I realized the hue was completely wrong and needed to be changed (cue: very unhappy husband!). These days, I always try out testers on all the different wall angles and let it sit over a space of a week before committing to a color.” —Niki Brantmark, Author, Lagom: Not Too Little, Not Too Much, Just Right: the Swedish Guide to Creating Balance in Your Life

4. Pushing Everything Against the Wall

“The biggest mistake I’ve seen clients make in their first home is placing all of the furniture against the walls. For a much more interesting home, try having a desk jut outward from the wall with two tête-à-tête chairs, or two sofas flanking each other. You can do research on sites like Pinterest to find a furniture arrangement that would fit your space and then start thinking out of the box!” —Alyssa Kapito, Founder, Alyssa Kapito Interiors

5. Only Shopping at One Store

“One common decorating mistake I’ve seen a lot in people’s first homes has to do with shopping at the same store when furnishing a room or home. It’s easy to get caught up in a single store’s aesthetic, but do your best to add some variety to a space (pieces from other sources, vintage, etc.) so you’re not living in a catalog!” —Jenny Norris, Founder, Jenny J Norris Interiors

6. Not Considering Your Home’s Quirks

“The single biggest mistake I see young couples make in their first home is choosing colors because they like them in their friend’s homes or in rooms they see online. Paint color can change with what is reflected from outside a window as well as the stain on the flooring or tile and lighting inside the house. It is always wise to test samples and choose the perfect paint for your home based on your home’s lighting and hard finishes instead of picking a color out of the blue because someone else likes it.” —Lisa Mende, Founder, Lisa Mende Design

7. Decorating for the Space You Wish You Had

“I think the number one lesson I’ve learned since decorating my first home is this: Shop for the space you have, not the space you wish you had. I’m an inveterate shopper, and when I was younger, I’d buy a lamp or rug because it was gorgeous, even if it didn’t suit my decor. This resulted in a storage unit brimming with totally lovely, totally unused items. Now, I’ve learned to pace myself, and only buy objects if I’ve got a place for them.” —Robert Leleux, Founder, Southern Style Now

*Re-edited from a post first published 07.10.2018 -B.M.