7 of the Most Common Decorating Mistakes to Avoid
We've previously discussed the biggest bedroom decorating mistakes stylists people make as well as the most common living room mistakes you need to avoid, but what about the rest of your home?
Done right, redecorating your home can be a cathartic experience. The benefits of purposefully refreshing your home décor are not just aesthetic, but can do wonders for your mood and mindset. With many people spending more time at home, the notion of revamping the look and vibe is particularly relevant.
While the potential outcomes of a home décor update are great, there are some common mistakes that people tend to make. From not taking measurements to adhering too closely to trends when a bricolage of styles and eras achieves a far better result, these errors can get in the way of a successful revamp. So, to avoid ending up with a sofa too wide for your hallway or a mass of matching throw cushions that make you wonder who you even are, keep scrolling.
Here are the seven most common mistakes to avoid when redecorating your home.
7 Common Decorating Mistakes to Avoid
1. Not planning
Depending on the scale of your redecorating, you should spend at least a few minutes (but definitely longer) on planning. You'll get better results if each step happens in sequence.
Is painting the walls part of your plan? Before anything else, you should choose your paint colour. Cost it out based on how much surface area you need to cover and only then should you start window shopping for complimentary throw pillows and rugs.
If you're not planning such a major overhaul, at least establish a starting point. Identify the one major change you want to make—a new rug, a vintage coffee table, space-saving shelves—and work from there. Once you've got that one item, let it inform the rest of your decisions as far as colour and texture go.
Write down (pen to paper) exactly what you want to achieve from redecorating and make a list of ideas. Then, organise the ideas in a logical order taking into consideration timing and budget.
Don't waste your time perusing vintage furniture on Instagram until you've got a solid understanding of what exactly will fit inside your home. Make sure you get it in writing—treat yourself like an untrustworthy business associate and ensure future you won't be disappointed after realising too late that the totally unique, totally perfect antique sideboard you've set your heart on (or even worse, actually purchased) is actually too big for your living room.
Guestimating has no place here, so before you even begin looking at new (or new-to-you) furniture, take measurements. Don't have a measuring tape? Don't just borrow one, get your own. It will become your favourite household item, at least for the time being. Now, measure every room you plan on making updates in—it might even help to sketch a little floor plan of your home to refer to later. Then, measure every key item currently in your home, whether or not you plan on replacing it. Keep all of these measurements somewhere safe, like your phone (or a Google Doc, if you're really serious) and you can avoid disappointment when it comes time to start shopping.
Take photos of each room in your house in case you find yourself at an antique store but can't remember for the life of you exactly how big the windows are in your living room.
Set aside one weekend afternoon to take measurements. You'll need a measuring tape, a notebook (or your phone) and a cup of energising herbal tea. Depending on the scale of your redecorating plans, you may also want to invest in a simple tool kit.
3. Being impulsive
Investing your hard-earned dollars in any big ticket item requires thought and consideration. Whether you're looking at a carefully restored Featherston lounge or an artisan rug, or even a new TV, think about the big picture—from form right through to function.
You may love the way a vintage armchair looks, but is it comfortable? The price might be right on that secondhand flatpack bookshelf, but is it structurally sound? If a piece of furniture needs to be functional—if a chair needs to be sat on regularly or a bookshelf needs to, you know, hold books—it's always best to see it in person.
Likewise with electronics—don't order the first TV you see in your price range, or the model with the best reviews, or whatever's available on Facebook Marketplace within 20km. Pause and consider whether your home and your habits could benefit from a smaller (or bigger) screen.
Think out loud. Tell a friend how much you're considering spending on a vintage chair even though you're still paying off your Afterpay purchases from last month. Take a second and give yourself time to be reasonable.
4. Being lazy
Unless you're aiming specifically for mass-market furniture catalogue aesthetic, you will benefit from time spent looking at a range of different references and retail spaces. As long as you have the time, avoid buying every new item from the same place. Likewise, avoid sticking to a theme just because it feels like less effort than curating a more personal and creative collection of wares. Avoid buying the full set just because it matches, and think past the most obvious design choice.
Remember: asymmetry is key when it comes to a gallery wall, which may require some creative installation techniques (read: 3M command strips).
Obviously, the solution here is to just not be lazy, but what could also help is to slow down. Rushing to the finish line often leads to thoughtless decisions that you end up paying for later.
It is important to spend your money wisely, which doesn't necessarily mean opting for the least expensive option—especially when it comes to frequently used items (towels, sheets, mattress for starters). As long as you remain within your price range, it can actually work out more cost-effective in the long run to opt for the more expensive of two options.
Consider how long you're likely to keep the item and how frequently you'll use it. Think about the quality of craftsmanship or manufacturing, and about durability. Think about resale value, especially in regards to furniture and art. You might save money in the short term by choosing the big-box retail option, but you'll likely end up having to replace it far sooner than the slightly pricier but much more valuable option.
Know your budget and stick to it, but think about the long term when you're making purchases.
Now that you're redecorating, commit to also doing a great big cull of the many under-used or under-appreciated items that lurk throughout your home. You'd be surprised how much stuff you have. Be ruthless. Enlist the help of your least sentimental friend. Promise yourself that for every new item you bring into your home, you'll let go of two others. Unless you've used it in the past year or it sparks enormous joy, get rid of it. Let it be used or spark joy for someone else.
Cleaning out the old will make all of the new that much more special, and the redecorating process even more rewarding. Plus, any new acquisitions will shine brighter without all of the clutter. Redecorating is a time for rebirth, so be bold and let go.
Ask for help! If culling your clutter feels overwhelming, ask a friend or housemate to help. Nobody around? Take inspiration from the cultural icons that made cleaning cool in the fist place (i.e. monks, Marie Kondo and the Scandinavian practitioners of Swedish Death Cleaning).
Everyone is creative in their own way. Rather than overthinking a trend or focussing on how to make everything match, just think about how a room—or a piece of furniture, or a paint colour—makes you feel.
While it's true that planning and reason are important factors of the redecorating process, it's also important to listen to your gut. At the end of the day, your intuition will help you m make décor decisions far better than even a professional interior designer. After all, you know you best. Just open your mind to ideas and inspiration and go with what feels right for you.
Take a break from mood-boarding and adding item after item to every online interiors store you can find. Eat a delicious and healthy snack. Then, resume redecorating with a fresh perspective and listen to your intuition.