The Design Mistakes Experts Want You to Avoid This Year

Charcoal gray kitchen

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It's way more fun to partake in and discuss the best parts of designing a home. But the reality is, design mistakes happen all too often and can lead to a room that feels off—glaringly so, or maybe in a way that you just can't put your finger on. Worst case scenario, a combination of several mistakes can lead to a dwelling that feels nothing like you and reflects concepts that really don't match your idea of "home."

A few factors can be responsible for these errors. In many cases, decision overload and a rushed process are the perfect storm and often lead to accidental design mistakes. With the bombardment of trends, decor items, colors, design rules of thumb, and the occasional unwanted opinion, it can be hard to remember everything and still create a space that feels good to you.

So, to keep these annoyances at bay this year, we've compiled a succinct list of mistakes and recruited the help of two design experts to identify the biggest problem areas they've seen in homes and the best way to solve the issues that arise. With a little awareness and the right solutions, 2022 will be the year your home feels perfectly put together in your eyes.

Meet the Expert

  • Amy Studebaker is an award-winning interior designer. She is the Owner and Principal Designer of Amy Studebaker Design.
  • Lisa Galano is the Principal at Lisa Galano Design Consultancy, an interior design and consulting firm.

Measuring Incorrectly (or Not at All)

Amy Studebaker of Amy Studebaker Design finds that the start of a new year is the perfect time to refresh your design knowledge and elevate your space. And, there is one thing in particular that she finds many people tend to forget.

"While working with clients, I have found that so many people make the mistake of not measuring the space they want to have designed when shopping for furniture," she says. "The right proportions make all the difference in a space, so measure out your room before buying and investing in any big furniture pieces."

And this isn't just for big ticket items like couches and beds—curtains and rugs will also be affected by these numbers, which leads to another major design error.

Picking Just Any Area Rug

It's tempting to select an area rug based purely on appearances, but it can be a detrimental design mistake. Without measuring, rugs can look oddly placed. Or, if layering them is of interest, there are more details to consider than just dimensions to make them look right. Lisa Galano of Lisa Galano Design Consultancy notes that it's imperative to "choose rugs that are different enough that they feel contrasting in material and palette, and the scale is appropriate."

There are a few other guidelines Galano sticks to when a space calls for a mixture of rugs. "The top area rug should be at least 1/3 smaller than the bottom," she explains. "Also, be wary of how high the piles get. As a rule of thumb, I don’t like my layered rugs to sit higher than 1.5 inches." Pile height is important. If you don't take note of this particular feature, stacking rugs can look more like a heap of textiles than a thoughtfully curated statement on the floor.

Small rug in living room

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Forgetting the Lighting

Despite being such an impactful component in a space, lighting is frequently forgotten or deemed unimportant. It's an easy mistake to make, but one that should be solved as these fixtures can make a huge difference in how a room is perceived—affecting everything from how a paint color appears to how spacious or cozy it feels.

"When we are selecting lighting for a client’s home, we always use three of these four different types: recessed lighting, sconces, table lamps, and decorative overhead lighting," notes Studebaker. "Adding multiple lighting options allows for a layered look and contrasting moods in a space!"

Living room with no light fixtures

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Ignoring Your Own Tastes and Preferences

One of the hardest parts of putting together a room or an entire home is separating what you like and what trends or social media platforms suggest you should like. Studebaker explains that without having "a true informed opinion about what you like and dislike," it's difficult to dream up and execute a space that emanates your style and makes you feel at home.

"Interior design is a deeply personal endeavor, and your home should reflect your personal tastes, not someone else’s," she says. "If you want bold wallpaper in your powder room, go for it! If you are wanting to paint an entire room a fabulous shade of green, grab the paint roller and start from there. Your home should bring you joy the moment you step into it, so do what makes you happy!"

If you're finding the lines are a bit too blurred, take a step back and start from scratch. Seek out other sources of inspiration outside of a digital screen. Connecting with an interior designer is also immensely helpful. They'll be able to help you navigate the sea of trends and parse out what you're actually after design-wise.

Settling for Just Any Trend

This ties in nicely to the aforementioned mistake of not following your own ideas when it comes to design. Trends can be fantastic kindling for sparking an idea but they can also be fleeting. Galano says color trends are easy to get wrapped up in but there's no rule that they need to be followed. "They are excellent resources and provide inspiration but they are not always the best use of resources or cause to reinvent your home," she says.

If a new colorway or pattern strikes your fancy, it might be best to test the waters with an object or a single statement piece to see how the color fits with the rest of the space. It's a great way to experiment without completely redoing a whole room to find out later that it's not really your style—or that you've grown bored with it in a matter of weeks.