6 Things to Never Do When Decorating

Here are six things you want to avoid if you’re decorating your own home and want it to look like you hired a designer. 

Be sure to read to the end. The last one is the most important thing I want to drive home today. I will give you an example of each one of these things at my own home, too. 

6 Home Decorating Mistakes to Avoid

1. Don’t Buy Anything To Use in One Place

Don’t buy something that can only be used in one place. You’re going to move and switch things up. Items that you find that you love over time are things that you can use in multiple places. 

red hall tree that can be used in multiple locations

Here is an example of something I bought that can be used in multiple places. It is the coat rack that I found. I’ve used it in my kitchen, and I’ve used it in my living room. 

credenza that can be used to hold tv

Also, the credenza in my living room is versatile. I’ve also used it to put the TV on. I have a sofa table that’s a drop-leaf table. I’ve used this table at least six different places in my house.

sofa table that can be used in many locations

Using furniture and accessories in multiple locations gives me the ability to move my items around. It makes my spaces look different over time.

2. Don’t Buy Things That Don’t Go With Colors

Don’t buy things that do not work with your color palette. This is a great way to save money. Figure out what kind of palette you’re working with as you’re decorating. Don’t buy something outside that color palette. It’s a great tool for avoiding impulse buys

I like to keep a mood board on my phone for each room and it helps me to check it out when I’m shopping.

mood board

You’re going to find over time that you start to gravitate towards items that are within your color palette. Like for me, it is a lot of blues and greens. That way, when I’m out shopping, if I see a pink chair, I don’t buy it. I’m not going to even look at things that don’t fit into my color palette. If buying outside color palette then, when I get it home, I’m going to find that I don’t like the way it looks anywhere.

3. Don’t Buy Things Someone Else Likes

Don’t buy anything because somebody you’re with likes it. I’ve definitely fallen prey to this myself when I’ve been thrifting with my mother. She picks up something that looks like her style and says, “Oh, this would be perfect for your house.” But really, her style and my style are not the same. Don’t let anyone else convince you to buy something just because it’s a great deal or because they like it for their house. 

Makeover your bathroom on a budget

I’ve made this mistake with a plant stand (pictured above which). I’ve tried to use a plant stand six different places. I just didn’t like the way it looked in any of those places. Ultimately, it’s because it just didn’t go with my stuff.

4. Don’t Buy Everything From One Place

Don’t buy all of your furniture from one or two places. This is something they teach you in design school. In fact, you lose points if you do this. They want you to pick your things from a wide variety of sources. You don’t want people to walk into your house and say, “Oh, this looks like the Pottery Barn catalog,” or, “Oh, this looks like you bought everything at Ikea.” 

You want to mix it up – mix up old, mix up new, mix up where you’re buying things. This design tip gives your home a curated look. 

I know you have seen this in design and here is an example. Everything in it matches. That is not the look you want to shoot for over the long term. You want to make it look like you curated the room and original, not like anybody else’s room.

5. Don’t Buy on Impulse

Don’t buy anything on impulse. I always like to leave it sitting in my cart or leave it sitting in my brain for at least 24 hours to think about it. Sometimes, we see something and buy it, and then regret it later. 

One exception I’m going to make to this rule is if you’re out thrifting. Here you think it’s going to be gone, and it doesn’t cost a lot of money. That’s the only time that I buy something on impulse. Sometimes, I still regret it. 

I’m sure you have probably experienced this regret. I’ve bought something on impulse and it arrives. I think, “I bought this lamp on impulse, and I thought it was gorgeous.” The bottom line is it just didn’t go with my stuff. I tried it in many different places, and it was expensive and impossible to return. 

floor lamp over neutral chair

Furniture or big bulky items that are expensive to return is another reason you don’t want to buy them on impulse.

6. Don’t Expect the Process to be Fast

This last design tip is the biggest. Don’t try to buy everything all at once.

We’ve gotten sucked into this immediate gratification mindset. We want to decorate our living room and we want it to look perfect in a week. That is not how decorating works; that’s not how life works. 

Your space is going to change and evolve over time. Rooms should be a collection of things you like. You don’t build that in a short amount of time. Don’t expect that. 

I have a lot of people ask me to help them decorate a room. They want it done on a quick timeline before someone comes to visit or before the holidays. With decorating, you never really stop doing it. It’s a continuous process where you know you’re constantly tweaking your room, adding to it, and taking things away. 

The slow curating is one of the things that’s fun about it. You need to learn to enjoy the process of making your home look better over time. It’s never going to be finished. Your home is just going to keep getting better and better.

Are you having trouble with mistake number two and unable to limit your color palette? I have written about how to figure out your color palette. See these design tips in How Many Colors Should Go In Your Color Palette?

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  1. Those are great tips and great reminders for many of us who have decorated more than one home over the years! My biggest tips are always, don’t buy furniture for a new home before you move into it and don’t make major decorating and design decisions until you have lived in a space for several months.

    1. Chloe,
      That’s a good one. I should add that. Thanks!

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