My Top 10 Biggest Decorating Mistakes

This is a repost from March 2009, but worth reading again.

  1. Not making the master bedroom a priority.
  2. Not getting rid of stuff that I don’t really need or love.
  3. Being afraid of color.
  4. Buying something trendy instead of more traditional {remember those over stuffed chairs from the 90’s?} I had two of them. It was like parking a Volkswagen in my living room–I mean TWO Volkswagens.
  5. Not buying that thing that I loved because I wasn’t exactly sure where I would use it.
  6. Fear of pattern.
  7. Worrying that someone will think I did it wrong.
  8. Not hanging a painted azure blue door sideways on a wall because someone will think I’m insane.
  9. Not decorating for OUR family. I finally broke down and kept a tiny blue kid’s kitchen and miniature table and chairs in our kitchen for our boys to play restaurant–it was there for years and was wonderful! Now I miss it.
  10. Thinking I can’t have pretty stuff because I have three boys.

What’s on your list?

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  1. It’s funny, but your post has me thinking of the buffet at Goodwill my dh thought was ugly, but I’m still thinking about. I should never ask before buying. I’m hoping everyone else felt the same way about it, and it’s still there. If not, “Don’t ask” will be my motto for 2010. Afterall, it’s Goodwill, I’m certainly not breaking the bank.

    Time to start working on the master bedroom!

    • I have found that often my DH will give a negative response about decorating ideas — not because he actively dislikes something and couldn’t live with it, but because it isn’t something that he, being a guy, would choose, and really at worst, he just doesn’t care!

  2. Just love this list – rings true – happiest of 2010 to you and your wee ones – Le

  3. What? I won????

  4. I hate it that I always want my Master bedroom picked up when I really love to have my books and magazines handy. I’m going to find a compromise this year. (and organize my closet…)

  5. Your 7, 8, 9 really resonate with me. My 2010 is going to be decorate our home to fit our family and not what my interior designer friend thinks I should do or what the rich lady down the street thinks I should buy. If you like follow my decorating venture over at my site.

  6. Not buying grown-up furniture, just making do with whatever. Not thinking about arrangement of pieces on the wall, just sticking them up there? Letting partner chose colours of paint (ME: “What makes you think those colours go together?” HIM “I like that shade of green and I like that shade of blue; if I like both colours they must go together”). Letting clutter take over. I have lots of work to do…

  7. It’s like you knew I needed to read this list. I’ve pretty much committed every one of those sins…well except for the azure door sideways and only because I hadn’t thought of it.

  8. I am into #2 big time…my Salvation Army loves me right now. Everyday bags of ‘Stuff’ I don’t even know where it all came from! If I look at it and the memory of it doesn’t bring a tear to my eye…out it goes! It feels great to “purge’ my home of all this ‘stuff’ I am in the middle of a few room makeovers all inspired by The Nester. When I’m done I will let you know so you can pat me on the back…;-) I headed today to my Salvation Army to get a matching Ikea 100% cotton fabulous white bed sheet for my window mistreatment…just a hint of my thriftiness. Happy Easter Nester!

  9. I still love this post. :) I need to print the list and put it on my bulletin board. :) Happy Easter, Nester!

  10. I think #1 was always a problem for me. We moved a lot and the master always got left for last. But on our last move it was the first room we did. Mostly because of the hideous wall paper and matching border. I would break out in hives just being in there. The plan almost back fired on me though as after two weeks of stripping, crying, swearing, stripping some more, swearing again, patching, priming, priming and painting, I didn’t do anything to the rest of the house for months! It kicked my butt! But I don’t break out in hives anymore and it is so calming in here now. Well, except for the piles of papers on my desk that I am ignoring as I type this!

  11. My sweet husband thinks all of our furniture should be upholstered in leather b/c we have 4 yr old twin boys. He has great taste and likes nice things, but I’m bringing him around to the joys of fabric- and I think I have him convinced that a light colored slipcovered couch will make our living room sing. I have never commented before and I LOVE your blog. You are such an inspiration, thank you so much. I read a lot of design blogs, and a lot of them are inspiring visually b/c of the beautiful pictures, but what you offer is on a spiritual level with your philosophy, and it’s so so appreciated.

  12. Yep, all so true! Especially #1 and #7 for me. Thanks for the reality “decorating” check.

  13. #1, #2, #4, #5, #7 and then quite a few of my own. This list is a good reminder. Especially #2 now that my thrift season is about to start. I risk bringing something home because it is cheap even more than not bringing something home that I really love.

  14. 1) Allowing too much clutter — must use Ebay, Craigslist or the curb to being purge process.
    2) Not finding this blog site sooner–I am addicted and finding The Nesting Place + a few other blog sites VERY helpful, inspiring and liberating.
    3) Acquiring stuff with no “Master Plan” (see #1 above)
    4) My inability to want to paint furniture — I now have 3 projects for this weekend — ALL involve painting some pieces white. Love it.
    5) Didn’t realize how much I can do myself and I don’t need Pottery Barn or buying retail.

  15. Not doing anything because I’m “renting”

  16. 6) Not re-reading before posting. to “begin” — rather than being — I make that error all too often.

  17. Being afraid of doing something for fear that if we ever move I will have to redo it. It really means not “living” in my own home but rather stopping to wait for the next place to put my stuff. I need to quit thinking resale and instead think comfort and function.(and we don’t move often)

  18. I remember this list from last year, and I appreciate reading it again.

    One of my biggest mistakes was letting a designer tell me what to do with some things instead of doing what I thought was beautiful. He was talented, and he had some great ideas, but he had some clunkers, too. I should have trusted myself more.

    Another mistake was buying things I didn’t really love just in order to fill a space. I think I’m more comfortable with empty space now.

    Have a wonderful Easter!

  19. I too have boys and often think, “that’s too feminine or pretty for my house!” Well, I am slowly getting out of that funk and starting to soften up my home. THEY love it! (As well as me!)
    I am also learning to decorate for my family, I have been debating on framing the boys art work and displaying it in collages all around my kitchen and sitting area. After reading this post, I am gonna do it! Thanks for inspiring me!!! (think i might even blog about it!)

  20. I also love the “fear of pattern” rule. I bought 3 cordinating fabrics to go with my little loveseat in the kitchen. A stripe, a plaid, a crazy viney-floraly fabric.
    I started sewing and felt my heart race a little… is this too much??? Loved the finish project. WAY better than the plain black curtains that reminded me of a college apartment! THANKS!

  21. Great list!!
    Have a happy Easter!!

  22. This is a great list! Many of the things on it are true for me as well!

    1.Being afraid to paint the ‘family heirloom’ because it is wood- and just living with UGLY INSTEAD!

    2. Not decorating How I want- since I’m the CHIEF DECORATOR,–meaning if I don’t make it homey- who will?

    3. Thinking that paint if FOREVER!

  24. this topic caught my eye…so many truths spoken here! It’s never too late to change and start ENJOYING our personal styles rather than worrying about what’s ‘in’ or ‘out’ or about the rules….but sooner is better! I think your reflections will help spur us on to listen to our OWN ‘decorators’ voice!

  25. Oh, this is a great list! I’ve probably done all of these.

    My biggest one right now – not just going for it with paint. I really REALLY want to paint our living room and dining room, but I am having the toughest time deciding the color. And since sample sizes are impossible to come by, I’m afraid to mess it up. I just need to DO IT! ha ha :-)

  26. How about painting your little boy’s room baby blue… just cause that’s what baby boy’s room are ‘supposed to be’ ? Ha ! No more ! It’s deep indigo almost peacock blue now with burnt orange accents. Love !

  27. Yikes, you just described me! (except for #10; i only have a daughter!)

    Sigh…i am still all of those nine things. No wonder i visit your blog so often….

  28. I share a lot of the same things as you.

    -Not buying something even though I love it and have no clue where it will go.

    -Buying a temporary fix instead of the real thing that I want in an effort to save a few bucks

    -Believing that I can paint my textured walls as easily as a flat wall

    -Compromising too much in terms of decor style and still hating whatever I compromised on.

    -Not buying something trendy, especially if the trend is my design style (modern vintage glam, thank you.)

  29. hey now i drive a convertable volkswagon missy.. and its cute…

  30. Biggest mistake is buying new matching sets of furniture. I have a matching chair, couch, loveseat, and ottoman in my family room, it’s comfortable but I wish I bought used furniture that wasn’t so matchy matchy.

  31. I agree – falling for the latest trend is a good one – always a regret. How about “forgetting to teach your family how to take care of things” – found a white ring on a nice table last week – and footprints on my daughter’s wall (I have no idea how she gets her feet where she does.)

    or “living with it ‘as is’ rather than finishing a room”. (it is so easy to get 90% THERE and then never finish and you just overlook the trim paint you never quite finished or the knob you never replaced -(or so I heard from a friend.))

  32. Really good list! Hope you have a great Easter.

  33. great post. I can ditto most of that. love the way you share so openly and give helpful tips to help us all overcome these ridiculous anxiety issues.

  34. Thinking that just because someone else came up with it, I can’t use it in my house. I used to think that if it wasn’t my original idea, it wasn’t acceptable. OH SO WRONG. Not everyone reads the Pottery Barn catalog or knows this blog, so I can happily accept a compliment when they admire my frame arrangement or wall color. It is great freedom.

  35. We’re only on our second home, so although I have “stumbled” into design I love and choices I’m thrilled turned out right, I still have much to learn about the best PROCESS for decorating.

    For example: starting with paint color as my first decorating element was totally backwards; I now know that I should find something I love — a fabric, piece of furniture, object, etc. — that sets the tone for the room before I start choosing paint.

    I wish I’d not been afraid of neutrals. Once upon a time, I thought “Neutrals = Boring,” which led me to buy two armchairs in a striped, jewel-tone fabric I loved — AT THE TIME. Seven years later, I’m wishing there was such a thing as a furniture divorce. If only I’d learned to use color in smaller, cheaper doses instead of making an investment in those chairs!

    I wish I learned earlier which colors I’m “friends” with and which colors turn me off. I’m not on speaking terms with Yellow. Or Peach.

    If you’re going to spend money on a “fad” item, make it vintage. A vintage collectible retains its cache, even if it IS kitschy, but that SteinMart palm tree pillow looks dated the minute you bring it home.

    Lastly, stop fantasizing and just DO SOMETHING! Disasters can be fixed but the what hasn’t even been attempted cannot.

  36. nice advise’

  37. Wonderful post, I’m so glad you reposted this! Sometimes I don’t do something because well, what will others think. As long as it makes me and the hubby smile that is what is important. Have a wonderful easter!

  38. I enjoyed reading your post – it got me thinking. I’m going to come up with my own list. Thank you for the inspiration :).

  39. Happy Easter Nester! I am in CHarlotte this week and wanted to check out your tassels at Black Lion…are you still there selling?

  40. Great list … all of it soooo true!

    I used to be afraid of what others though of my decor … now I just go for whatever is on my mind & I’m Loving it!!! You have to really let your creativity flow and not be afraid of change!

    Have a Beautiful Easter!!!

  41. So what if your husband doesn’t like something you LOVE? (At my house the current one is he likes the chandelier that was here and it bugs me every time I see it. I found one I love and can afford, but he doesn’t like it at all. What to do? I don’t want to settle on something neither of us likes, but I also don’t want to live with what is here forever.)

  42. Being paralyzed by making a mistake.

    Not being willing to admit a mistake halfway through and re-group.

    Not being willing to start something for fear I won’t finish it (leading to lots of things not ever getting started at all).

    I see them a bit, so I try to compensate, but I still sometimes get locked into my bad habits.

    Just found your blog. Really enjoying it.

  43. Particularly agree with #5 and #10. We’ve found that more often than not you use the thing that you think you won’t more than you would ever imagine. It’s like that red pair of shoes that you think won’t go with anything, but they end up going with everything! Go with your gut!

    And as for #10… There are some great furniture pieces that meet both of those needs… Some of our Amish furniture is beautiful and durable, and the best part they only get better with age and a little wear…

  44. I love your list. I’ve always tried to include the hubby and teen in our decorating. Many times, they are with me when the purchase is made. So you definitely say the home is a reflection of us.

  45. Finding GARBAGE and turning it into GOLD is what I was trying to accomplish when I brought home a curbside ottoman. I stopped reupholstering furniture and I started writing a business plan for an online business that will allow all you furniture flippers to promote and sell your beautiful creations. Please Vote for GARBAGE TO GOLD at everyday throughout the month of April!
    Thank you
    Tumaini Rivera
    Mom, Artist, Entrepreneur
    Twitter @flippinfactory and @breastmilk

  46. I am so glad I read this! I remember seeing a few websites where people used doors on their wall and it didn’t stick out to me that you had done that since it was painted such a pretty color! I saved a door from being thrown away in the fall and had a fabulous idea based on your pictures. I will be working on it this spring-summer to get it stripped, painted, etc. I am so excited, I finally had a picture to show my husband! :)

  47. I absolutely LOVE your door! I had a question.. how did you hang the picture frame on the door? and did you buy a chalk board or did you just use the paint? Thanks! you are such a inspiration!

  48. #7 – I not only fear someone will think I did it wrong, I am paralyzed in fear to even start. I have several items I want so badly to redo, but I just can’t get started. I just live vicariously through blogs like yours. Love your work is beautiful!


  1. […] My Top 10 Biggest Decorating Mistakes. […]

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