Designing a space isn’t always easy and today I’m talking about the 12 design mistakes I’ve made in my own home.
With the emergence of Pinterest and Instagram, inspiration is readily available and always at our fingertips. There is so much design inspiration out there these days that it’s super easy to get caught up in it all. Endlessly scrolling until we are sufficiently overwhelmed and confused on what path to take with our design.
And to make matters worse, design is always changing. Trends come and go. New colors emerge to replace the old. Staying true to one’s own style can be a challenge.
Below I’ve listed out the mistakes I’ve made, and continue to make, in my own home and how I’ve worked to combat them.
The 12 design mistakes I’ve made in my own home
the 12 design mistakes I’ve made in my own home
- No clear design direction
- No vision/mood board for reference
- Jumping on a trend that isn’t my style
- Trying to make a style, not my own, work in my home
- Mixing too many things
- Purchasing something I don’t love
- Purchasing something just because it is a good deal
- Trying to force something that just won’t work
- Starting with the wrong pieces
- Not communicating with Mike my design vision
- Not trusting my gut
- Failing to take any risks
No clear direction
One of the design mistakes I’ve made a few times in our home is not getting clear on my design. I tend to skip ahead in the process before I figure out exactly what it is I’m doing. This results in a disjointed, and most of the time, an incomplete final design.
Now, I’m not saying every little detail needs to be worked out before I get going. The overall direction of the design should be well thought out though. And sometimes, I start a project before I’ve given myself the time to fully develop and think it through.
Part of the process of getting clear is creating a vision or mood board for the design. I frequently skip this step when working on projects in my own home and usually regret it when I do.
Taking the time to gather inspiration in the form of photos, fabrics, and finishes helps to visualize the final look. To get a sense of how it will all work together and IF it all works together or needs tweaking.
When I skip this step, my design has lacked cohesion and I’ve been unhappy with the end result.
Creating a vision or mood board also helps to keep me on track when sourcing items for the space. I am less likely to purchase something on a whim that won’t work if I’ve determined the pieces and their sizes beforehand.
Straying from my own style
Another design mistake I’ve fallen victim to is jumping on the latest design trend.
As a lover of many different styles, it can be hard NOT to give the latest, new thing a try.
While I’m not usually one to jump on the bandwagon of a new trend, every once in a while I falter.
There is usually some part of the design, some element that speaks to me in some way.
A good example of this is the farmhouse style movement that’s been trending for a while now.
I love the white, bright, airiness of the spaces. The chippy, distressed, painted furniture, and the casual, cozy vibe this style gives to a space.
And while there are components of this style that I love, I find that when I have tried to execute them in my own home, it’s just not me.
I do like bright and airy spaces but need the contrast of dark and moody colors with it. This creates balance and is a more true reflection of my style.
I’ve learned that the distressed, chippy furniture speaks to my love of antiques. I prefer them unpainted though with their natural wood tones in my own home.
Learning to dissect a trend to figure out what about it works with my own, has helped me to better and more clearly define what does and does not work in our home.
Gaining this clarity helps me to stay strong when a popular trend, that bucks with my own style, emerges.
I’ve learned that forcing a popular trend in my home, only leads to frustration and a disjointed end result.
This mixing of too many styles and trends that do not go together is something I continue to work on. I’m constantly trying to find balance and the perfect mix of styles to create the collected and modern traditional look I am after.
Purchasing items that just won’t work
These next 3 design mistakes are very similar and probably the ones I struggle with the most. They are constant, everyday battles for me and ones I am actively working on in the new year to improve.
Have you ever heard that clothing stat before? You know, the one that says we wear 20% of what’s in our wardrobe 80% of the time? I feel like this can be applied to the accessories in our homes as well.
Or at least in mine.
If I take a look around at all the little things I’ve purchased for our home, the percentage of items I truly love and use every day is definitely smaller than the whole.
Bringing items into our home that I’m not in love with has resulted in a muddied design. Not to mention a lot of extra stuff.
In the new year, I hope to pinpoint what we use every day and love and purge the rest. Working through this exercise is also a way for me to create space within our home. Space for rest, peace, and exploring things that make us happy and recharge our souls.
Along with bringing things home that I don’t truly love, I’ve been known to purchase an item just because it seemed like a good deal or was on sale. I usually know when this is the case because buyers’ remorse will set in shortly after.
To combat this, I’ve learned to walk away and give it 24 hours. If I’m still thinking about it and have the space, then I know it’s much more likely to work.
I also utilize this trick when I fall in love with a particular item but I’m unsure of where it will live in our home.
Trying to make something work just because I love it, in some cases is ok. If I truly love something I will find a place for it.
Forcing a piece of furniture or accessory into a spot will stand out though and drive me crazy.
Taking 24 hours to figure out a spot for the item first, results in a much happier buying experience.
Not focusing on the right things
Another frequent mistake I’ve made is focusing on and purchasing too many small accessories and not investing in the larger, foundational pieces.
When you’re young and fresh out of school, budgets for sofas, tables, and furniture can be non-existent. It seems easier and much cheaper to purchase smaller items like pillows, throw blankets, and accessories and get by with hand me downs.
Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE a good hand me down. I didn’t have much in the way of furniture that was passed down to me though.
AND instead of thrifting second-hand pieces or saving and investing in the foundational pieces for my rooms, I made do with what I had.
Think cheap, MDF shelving and plastic storage. Perfect for dorm life but not for a new graduate looking to adult.
I thought I could disguise the bad and bring everything together by adding lots of accessories. Instead of creating the cohesive look I was after though it looked like a hot mess.
I ended up spending more in the long run and was left with a bunch of stuff with nowhere to display it.
In order to remedy this, I’ve taken a hard stance with what I buy. I’ve redirected my focus to finding the right, foundational pieces first before layering in all the other pieces. (Don’t worry. I still buy the occasional accessory if my heart leaps at the thought of leaving it behind. It’s just not my main focus right now).
This has helped the design of my home become more cohesive throughout. It also feels more pulled together and less like a college dorm.
Focusing on the form and style of your foundation pieces makes it easier in the long run to create a cohesive look with a clear direction.
These pieces are the anchor items of a room. They define the look and the accessories help to bring the style to life.
A mistake that has been particularly hard for me is making sure I communicate my vision for our home with Mike.
My husband is unusually interested in the design and decor of our home. While I LOVE his enthusiasm and interest, it can also be frustrating at times. I don’t have carte blanche to do what I want.
Sometimes I really have to sell him on the design if I feel strongly about it and he does not.
There have been times when we haven’t been on the same page and the design for a room gets muddy. Projects have come to a halt and arguments have been had.
I’ve found though that when I really feel strongly about my design and I communicate it and include him, it goes much smoother and stays truer to my vision.
Trust me. I don’t always get my way. What marriage survives without some give and take? That’s why we’ve come up with man caves and she sheds as a society, right?
Learning to include Mike in on the details and the why behind the design, has enabled him to get a better understanding of what I am trying to do and the direction I want to take.
There are still times when he puts his foot down but they are fewer and farther between now.
Taking risks and trusting in myself
These last 2 design mistakes I’m sure everyone has faced at some point in their home.
Trusting my gut does not always come easy to me. There’s been a lot of self-doubts and a lot of second-guessing my visions.
There are so many paths to take when designing a room and so much inspiration as I mentioned earlier. It can be overwhelming and debilitating if you let it.
I’ve combated this by limiting my exposure to my sources of inspiration once I’ve honed in on my design.
Once I find that direction and jumping-off point, I try to let go of everything else. I put my head down and get to work.
It also helps that design is meant to change and evolve. And it will. As you grow and change and have more experiences, your design and visions will change as well. And this is ok.
Go with your gut and know that you can always tweak it if needed.
Along with not trusting my gut, there have been plenty of times where I’ve played it safe with my designs.
Not taking risks and trying something new has limited me and what I can do. It’s stunted my creativity and resulted in spaces that are lacking.
In order to push myself, I continually seek out mentors and ways to educate myself.
Finding people whose styles I admire, and learning what I can by studying their designs, has helped open up and get the creative juices flowing inside me.
Practicing different techniques in my own projects and home also helps to give me courage. Courage to continue to stretch the limits of what I think I am capable of.
These are the 12 design mistakes I’ve made in my own home.
If you find yourself making these or similar mistakes, I hope this gives you encouragement that you’re not alone.
It takes time to develop, hone, and come into your own style. Life experiences will cause your style to shift and change and it will take some trial and error to get it right.
Don’t give up and continue to practice. Practice really does make perfect and it’s only when we try, do we see what will and won’t work for us.
What design mistakes have you made in your home?