Three of the Costliest Decorating Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

published Apr 6, 2016
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(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

Decorating is an inexact science, and everybody makes mistakes. But some mistakes are more costly than others. Here are three big ones that will cost you a lot of money — and time — and how you can avoid them.

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Buying a big piece of furniture that turns out to be totally wrong for your space.
It can be really hard to visualize how a particular piece will look in a room until you actually get it into the room, which isn’t an issue with smaller things like pillows and art, because you can always return them. Larger items like furniture and rugs, on the other hand, often can’t be returned, and even if they can you’re still on the hook for shipping to and from your house.

So even if you’re certain that that couch or table or what have you is the perfect thing for your space, block it out first (with tape on the wall or floor, or with butcher paper) to get an idea of how it will fit in the room. Order swatches if they’re available, and if you see something you like online, try to check out the piece in a brick and mortar store before you buy.

Painting a whole room in a color you realize you hate.
Probably everyone who’s ever painted has had this happen — you pick a swatch at the store, maybe even tape it to the wall at home, it’s great, you love it, so then you paint the whole room and only when you’re done do you realize that you don’t love this color at all. In fact, you hate it. So then you have to start the whole process all over again.

The way to avoid this is to be very, very careful about your color selection. The same color can look completely different on different walls and in different lighting situations, so either get a large swatch and try it out in multiple places in the room, or invest in one of those sample cans so you can paint big patches on different walls. It may seem like a pain, but getting the color right the first time will save you a lot of money — and a lot of time.

Investing a lot of money in a DIY project that you never finish.
DIYing only saves money if you actually finish the project. Otherwise, you’re just spending a lot of money on supplies that will only take up room in your home (and provoke feelings of DIY guilt when you think about your unfinished work).

Before you start a project, do an estimate of how much time it will take to complete — and be honest with yourself about whether this is realistic for your schedule and your abilities. And if you’re new to DIY, maybe start with a small project first.