7 Interior Design Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

As a design consultant, I often meet clients that took on decorating for themselves and got stuck. Most of the times, not only the issues are common, but also the reasons they ended up not knowing in which direction to go anymore are because of these really common interior design mistakes:

1. Not having a plan. There is a reason this design mistake is the first on my list: without a plan one is bound to make all the following mistakes I listed here and more.

What I always recommend is finding a color palette and shopping within that palette.  But if you want to ensure a cohesive look that is not the only thing you need to keep in mind. You first must know yourself and what you like. Most of us like different design styles and it is important to make sure all the styles we like can blend nicely when we consider decorating our home.

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2. Choosing paint color first. Color is one of the first design decisions we make when decorating. But choosing wall color first might end up as being a mistake because all your other choices will have to relate to the paint color. Yes, it is not the end of the world and paint is cheap. But there are also a million paint colors out there and paint can be custom mixed, whereas there aren’t nearly as many rug, fabric, pieces of art to choose from. 

Tip: choose your fabrics, rug or art first and draw inspiration from there.(while taking in consideration your fixed elements, of course!)

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3. Buying furniture without measuring. This goes without saying: when ordering furniture please, please make sure it fits well in the space. That beautiful sectional you loved in the showroom and can sit the whole family might be too large for your family room. It is also a good idea to make sure it will fit through any doors and pathways in order to make it to the room you are planning to use it in.

Tip: You can use blue tape to mark the area available for the piece you consider and make sure there is enough space available.

4. Buying furniture that is not human scale. You know what I mean: buying furniture that is too large because the room is large, buying small furniture because the room is small, or the last one I heard – buying tall furniture because the ceilings are tall. Furniture is relative to people and it should always be human sized. If the room is bigger or smaller it just means one might need more or less furniture.

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5. Buying something you don’t love. We’ve all been there…Sometimes it’s a budget issue, sometimes is just desperation to have a place to sit or the need for something to finish that room.  The next thing you know, you go out and buy the first thing that seems to fit the bill….But we always regret buying something that was just good enough and not the piece we really wanted…Yes, it makes sense sometimes but if you can don’t give in desperation the next decision might be a better one.

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6. Buying things before you know how you will use the space. When I meet new clients I always ask “what are you using this space for? and how do you want it to feel”. More often than not, I leave people wondering because most of us have the formal living room (or dining room) and we imagine that room should be stiff and formal room when all we want is to hide in there and read a book or watch TV away from loud teenagers. Think how YOU would like to use the space and furnish it accordingly.

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Interior designer Jenny Komenda’s living room
Photo: Courtesy of Jenny Komenda

7. Design by committee. Don’t let your girlfriend, neighbor, mother or decorator completely define your home because opinions can vary greatly. By all means if you hired a designer, take their advice but don’t make this a friends and extended family event. Too often clients seem to be intimidated by design but they actually have a strong sense of style. You know what you need and you know what you like. You need to speak up because you are the one who has to live there.