Have you ever made decorating mistakes before? Oh, good. Me, too. Here are 21 decorating mistakes that I made and how I fixed them.

Truth?

I’ve made a few decorating mistakes before.

Extra truth?

I STILL MAKE THEM EVERY DAY.

Yep.

Every. Single. Day.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I get stuff right, too. But here’s the thing. Most of the stuff that I get right now? I got wrong once upon a time. It’s all about trying and figuring out what works and what doesn’t and replacing things and discovering what you did right and what you did wrong.

Because just like my mother said about stirrup pants, bright blue eyeshadow and legwarmers.

It’s always a good idea to learn from your mistakes.

Here are 21 decorating mistakes I’ve made (and how I fixed them).

decorating mistake dining room

Mistake 1: Picking the paint color first

This world is full of amazing paint colors.

Truly.

You can see some of my favorite blue paint colors here and my favorite neutral paint colors here and my favorite white paint colors here.

Paint is an easy and inexpensive way to change up a room. But here’s the thing…starting with the paint color is a decorating mistake. You will be in for a world of frustration trying to find accessories and furniture and fabric that goes with that paint color. Start with your statement piece and choose the paint color from that. For example, in this room, I started with this rug and picked the paint color for the walls, Naval SW 6244.

Solution: Start with your statement piece first and use that to select your paint color

decorating mistake couch

Mistake 2: Not checking to see if your sofa’s cushions are removable

This is the living room from the farmhouse. When we remodeled the room, I wanted it to be symmetrical after we added the built-ins and I thought two love seats would be perfect in the space.

The only challenge?  Telling your husband you want two love seats after he just found the extra money to refinish your wood floors.  Yikes.  

I knew they had to be affordable and neutral with nail-heads and heavy upholstery to stand up to kids and pets and red kool-aid.  These mini-sofas fit the bill.  They were under $500 each and I got them from the Chris Madden Collection at JC Penney years ago.  I was in such a hurry to order them that I forgot to check and see if the cushions were removable. When they showed up, the stationary back cushions didn’t seem like a deal-breaker.

Until I lived with them.

Stationary back cushions are hard to clean and kind of slump down after a while and oddly push the bottom cushions out.

Solution: You can fix those attached cushions with this one simple tip.

decorating mistake living room

Mistake 3: Don’t forget about the ceilings

Did you know that ceilings are the fifth wall?

It’s an entire decorating opportunity that so many of us forget about.

Sometimes it’s as simple as remembering to paint them like I did here.

But sometimes?

The ceiling can make an entire decorating statement. Here’s an entire post with 7 design ideas you can use for your ceiling inspiration.

Solution: Include the ceiling in your decorating plans. Add a ceiling medallion or paint a pattern or use a flat ceiling paint to freshen it up.

decorating mistake greenery

Mistake 4: Not adding enough greenery

I’m not sure why I forgot about greenery.

Hello captain greenery obvious.

Forgetting the greenery is a common decorating mistake. Greenery is good for the heart and the soul and the neutrals in a room. It gives a room air.  It helps it breathe. You want to add a little greenery to each space to create movement and life in the room.

Solution: Here’s a simple tip to add greenery to your room for free.

decorating mistake bedroom

Mistake 5: Forgetting to add pops of color

I decorated this bedroom in almost all white.

We lived with it for a little and realized something was missing. All it needed was a hint of color.

Nothing too overwhelming.

Nothing too much.

Just a little bit of blush and gold to make it feel alive. Oh.  And we added greenery.

For that—please refer back to decorating mistake number four.

Solution: If your room is neutral, add a pop of color to the space to make it feel finished.

decorating mistake ceiling fan

Mistake 6: Underestimating the ceiling fan

When we first redecorating the bedrooms upstairs I knew that I knew that I KNEW I was getting rid of the ceiling fans.

Ceiling fans are so 2011 I told anyone who would listen and promptly took them out of most of the rest of the house, too.

Except? Except I live in TEXAS. The land of the 100 degree days. It was a giant decorating mistake. My electric bill did not thank me.

And so? I went back and put in ceiling fans like these.

They have so many amazing options for ceiling fans now that are industrial and beautiful and farmhouse or simple fans like this one that you don’t even notice.

Solution: Sometimes ceiling fans are a necessity in a space.

Mistake 7: Forgetting to add mirrors

There are so many spaces that I decorated in this house that felt like a dcorating mistake. They felt a little flat, like the original design for this back entry.

I wanted something that would bring a little light into the space.

And then a commenter suggested a mirror.

Brilliant.

Here’s the entryway and a mirror that came from my mother and used to hang in the old butler’s pantry.

Sometimes a mirror doesn’t have to reflect everything perfectly like this mirrored staircase project.

Just the light.

Solution: When decorating the walls in a room, try to add a mirror to the space.

Mistake 8: Choosing the wrong size area rug

It’s so easy to skimp on an area rug.

They can be a little expensive.

But truth? Nothing makes a room more awkward than a too-small area rug in a space. Make sure to choose an area rug that covers your floor with about a 12″ border around the room (you can adjust this for random room sizes.

Here are a few suggestions to help your rug budget. You can layer rugs like I did here or even combine two smaller rugs to create a larger rug like I did in this room.

Solution: Make sure your area rug covers the floor in your room.

Mistake 9: Following a trend that isn’t your house

Case in point.  When we moved into this house, I wanted to decorate it just like the farmhouse and decorate the space with farmhouse neutrals.

Except.

Except this house isn’t a farmhouse

It’s different.

The rooms are a little fancier and all that farmhouse decor didn’t really work in the space. It just felt like the house wasn’t happy. It needed color.

So I listened to the house.

And changed it up.

And gave it color.

I kind of surprised myself with the bold choices in this room, but it worked.

Solution: Sometimes it’s important to understand that you have to listen to your home to figure out what works for it.

decorating mistake not controlling clutter

Mistake 10: Not controlling clutter

If your surfaces in your home are covered with clutter? It’s hard to see the decorating underneath. Not controlling clutter can be a simple decorating mistake.

Here are some simple tips to control clutter in your home:

Solution: Find a place for everything and keep everything in its place.

Mistake 11: Not using enough curtain rings

This is a mistake I’ve made over and over and over again.

I’ll hang the curtain up and it’s glumpy.

It hangs down in places and doesn’t look right.

It’s because I didn’t add enough curtain rings to the curtain.

Solution: Use 2 packages of rings per curtain to make sure the curtain hangs properly.

decorating mistake pillows

Mistake 12: Choosing design over comfort

This is one decorating mistake I make all the time.

I design a room and then forget that we have to live there.

If your rooms are pretty and people can’t use them? It’s a design fail.

Solution: Look for ways to incorporate comfort into your design, like adding down inserts to pillows like these.

Mistake 13: Pushing furniture against the wall

The natural inclination is to push furniture against the wall.

The challenge?

This makes a room feel stilted.

Instead? Pull the furniture into the space. Pull chairs into the room. Pull your couch away from the wall. Give the room space to breathe.

Solution: Add your furniture to the conversation.

Mistake 14: Not having an anchor piece in the room

Every room needs a conversation piece.

Something that anchors the space and helps the room to feel important.

It can be a hutch like this one in the kitchen.

Adding the hutch against the wall draws the eye to the end of the room and helps provide a foundation for the design.

Solution: Build your design around a statement piece for the room.

Mistake 15: Not having enough lighting in the room

It took me a while to discover this mistake.

I’d add a ceiling fixture and call it a day.

Except.

Except every room needs at least three points of light.

Don’t forget about table lamps. Look at what tasks you need for a room and add light accordingly.

Solution: Add three points of light in every room.

Mistake 16: Forgetting to add unique architecture to a home

You want to add a little bit of architecture to every room.

It doesn’t have to be a giant project.

The key is to add features to your home that help it stand out in a crowd.

Solution: Add architecture to your home to create a unique design for your spaces.

Mistake 17: Forgetting that every seating space should have a surface

This goes back to mistake #12. Designing for real life.

It’s important that everyone has a place to put their drink.

Or their phone.

Or anything they have in their hand.

It’s important that each seat has a flat surface it can have access to.

Solution: Make sure to add side tables or coffee tables in a seating area.

Mistake 18: Spending too much money on furniture

There is NO need to spend a lot of money furnishing your home.

Not. One. Bit.

Especially when there are thrift stores and yard sales and your attic to shop.

Here are a few simple furniture transformations to get you started:

Solution: Shop thrift stores and yard sales for bargains and then add your own personality to them.

Mistake 19: Hanging your curtains too low

When hanging your curtains, you want to hang them above the moldings. Hanging them too low can be one of the simplest decorating mistakes.

This pulls the eye up and makes the room feel larger.

You can make curtains yourself to the right length and here’s a simple, easy tip to line them.

Here’s a simple hack for no-sew curtains, too.

Solution: Make sure your curtains are hung above the molding or window.

Mistake 20: Choosing artwork that’s not unique

Find interesting, creative things to hang on your wall.

You want your artwork to show off your personality.

Here are some simple ideas for artwork in your home that you can create yourself.

Solution: Let your personality show through when choosing art for your walls.

Mistake 21: Forgetting that each house is unique

I hesitated to put this one.

I know it sounds a little like I’m writing a Hallmark card for a house.

When I arrived here I decorated with what I knew.  Neutrals.  And I love neutrals.

They are my go-to.  They are my friends.  They calm down my heart and make me smile and want to sink into a chair with a really good book and the sounds of violins filling the air.  I loved them in the farmhouse.

Truly.

But here’s the thing.  Each house has its own story.  Each house has its own vision.  It’s not like any other house on the planet.

The house knows it’s heart. This house needed color and mirrors and light and pattern and texture mixed in with vintage design. It was different than the farmhouse, but it knew what it needed.

A house knows what will make it soar.

Solution: Sometimes the key is simply to listen.

All these decorating mistakes.

All these lessons learned come down to one message:  Be true to who you are

Don’t follow rabbit trails on Pinterest.

I get it.  I understand.  It is so easy to do.  But at the end of the day, there is only one you and what you love for your home will always be perfect no matter what someone else dictates with the latest trends.

Trust your heart.

After all, you are a rock star.

Here’s a simple video I made showing just five of the decorating mistakes. You can see more videos like this over on my YouTube Channel.

I need to go back and update it. 🙂

PS  If you have any decorating mistakes you’ve made, share away.  It will make my mistakes feel better. 🙂

Comments

  1. Image for Janis Raines Janis Raines

    I learned the rule about couch cushions the hard way, but I am stuck for several more years. My previous couch had removable cushions, and I rotated them every week. After at least 14 years, we sold the couch to the first couple that looked at it. The cushions still looked great. My current sofas have cushions that have zippers, so the cushions can be re-stuffed; but I still strongly prefer removable ones.

  2. Image for Atesh Stahl Atesh Stahl

    Hi! Is it just me or was the link for #6 missing? I am in the market for a new ceiling fan and was looking forward to seeing your suggestions, but didn't see a link. Also, on #4 what was the simple tip for adding greenery to your home for free? I didn't see a link for that either. Thanks!

  3. Image for Barbara Barbara

    I love that you are always evolving but you know what your heart says when evolving- does that make sense? You know what you like and then you can change your mind and do something even better! Your dining room is to die for♥

  4. Image for Peg Peg

    My biggest mistake would be choosing paint from the color sample strip! Never again!! Buy a sample, test it, live with it, and then decide!!! xoxo

    1. Image for Danise Danise

      So true, Peg.... I have 5 gallons of Behr Marquee in two <> colors because I bought them for my new house without really taking my time. I'll never rush that process again.....

  5. Image for Lynn W Lynn W

    YES!! Made plenty of mistakes and had to live with some because of the $$ it would take to fix :(. Like your loveseats without the removable back cushions. Live and learn 😊. Love this post Karianne!! We do need to listen to our homes 💜

  6. Image for Kris Kris

    Thanks to you, I avoided the slumpy sofa issue when I went furniture shopping. And I agree--each house is unique and each owner is, too.

  7. Image for Carol@BlueskyatHome Carol@BlueskyatHome

    Great ideas KariAnne. The only mistake I'd never thought about was the sofa cushions. I guess I luckily bypassed that one. And you are so right about the ceiling fans. I'd love to have pretty chandeliers in the bedrooms, but Sweet Shark wouldn't sleep without a ceiling fan.

  8. Image for Rebecca Rebecca

    Hello Karianne! Thanks for this list! Your home is welcoming and so pretty, just like you; I wish we were neighbors! 🌸🙂 Rebecca

  9. Image for Kathy Menold Kathy Menold

    Love your admission of the decorating mistakes you have made. I certainly can identify with them especially about the attached couch cushions and the too small area rug. Will look for the hidden zipper and will remedy my rug problem as soon as I can afford a new larger one. I also love your comment on a place to put a drink or whatever when sitting on a piece of furniture. I see other decor pictures and always wonder where would I put my book and tea cup. You are a rock star Karianne and it is always a joy to read your blog. Hope you and yours are well and safe.

  10. Image for Shirl Mecklehy Shirl Mecklehy

    Where might I find a lamp with the base like an* O*. I have seen then but didn't want one then, now I do. You must have a 24/7/365 house keeper. How do you keep the floors so spotless along with yur beautiful home. I am so jealous. Shirl

  11. Image for Michele M. Michele M.

    Ah another good decorating mistake I see so often is hanging artwork too low or too high (or mirrors for that matter, which is always a challenge as my hubs is 6'3" and I am a shrinking 5 foot nothing.... but, well, good design wins, haha. And that ever important NOT over decorating. One needs that eye to rest - to take in its surroundings and appreciate what it sees. I have been skimming down and making decor simpler lately. It isn't easy to do but I am liking it - especially being safely at home for this virus quarantine. I enjoyed this post - I have lived here for almost 18 years and have had more foyer tables, coffee tables and den sofas than I care to admit. Yes. I know mistakes, alright. We're old buddies. LOL.

  12. Image for Barbara Moore Barbara Moore

    My #1 mistake? Rugs. I can not get it right. I start out loving a particular rug. Too expensive. Buy something that's almost right, but cheaper. Hate it. Live with it as long as I can stand. And repeat. Husband says I'm a member of the rug of the month club. I'm not, but getting close. I really don't know how to put rugs that are visible to one another together, either. Total rug fail. All the time. *sigh*

  13. Image for Marlene Stephenson Marlene Stephenson

    Too real, i think for all of us and so glad i learned from them. Thanks I had the saggy cushioned sofa too and it was navy blue. Live and learn, stay safe and healthy.

  14. Image for Elaine Elaine

    I matched my paint to my green buffalo check bed skirt not realizing it was TOO yellow. I had to wait over a year to convince my husband to help me repaint the walls a different shade of green (He thought there wasn’t a thing wrong with it.) 😄

  15. Image for Stacey Amaro Stacey Amaro

    My biggest mistake is forgetting to bring in nature. Since I could kill a cactus, I make artificial wreaths and centerpieces with high quality products that look real. Without them right now I'd be climbing the walls. We all need some flowers in our life.

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