Designers Cringe Whenever They See These Things In Homes

Making these changes will instantly upgrade your home.

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Outside of work, your home is probably where you spend most of your time. It’s where you wake up after a good night of sleep, soak in the tub after a long day, or even just crack open a book when you’re bored. However, if your house feels a little “off” because of a design mishap, it can make all those activities way less relaxing.

Thankfully for both of us, I’ve reached out to a handful of designers to find out what design mistakes make them cringe the hardest — helping to make your space the best it can be. And I’m not just talking about the once-popular decorations like “Live, Laugh, Love” signs or wallpaper that seems outdated. Instead, I’ve made sure that the tips you’ll find below are applicable to a wide variety of tastes.

Designers know what works best when it comes to decorating your home, so why not take their advice? If your home could use a little upgrade, keep scrolling for more.

1. Unrealistic Fake Plants

Solution: Real, Easy-To-Grow Houseplants

Sometimes, unrealistic fake plants can affect your home’s interior in a negative way. You know the kind — though if you need an example, Lauren Czarniecki, the owner and principal designer of Czar Interiors, describes them as “the ones you used to see in a '90s office.”

Thankfully, there’s a solution: a set of house plants that are easy to grow, like these ones. Each order includes a mix of six plants that come packaged in their own 2-inch containers, and they arrive fully rooted so that you don’t have to worry about any seeds sprouting.

2. Jumbled Wire Containment

Solution: This Sleek Wire Management Box

“Bad wire containment in an office or even kitchen — there are so many ways we can organize that better,” Czarniecki tells Bustle. But if you’re struggling to come up with a way to hide them? This wire management box is an easy fix for less than $25. Multiple slats in the back allow you to thread wires through, while ventilation holes on the top help keep power strips from overheating. Choose from two colors: white or black.

3. A “Very Messy Pantry”

Solution: These Clear Food Organizers

Czarniecki also considers “a very messy pantry” to be pretty cringe-worthy, so why not tidy things up using these storage bins? They’re large enough to fit all sorts of dry goods, from clunky pickle jars to compact juice boxes. Handles on the front make it easy to pull them out when you need something — and each one is also completely BPA-free.

4. Handbags Dropped Onto The Floor

Solution: These Wall Hooks For Your Closet

If you aren’t sure where to store your handbags, Czarniecki tells Bustle that “a bench or console, even if small can fix that — or having a dedicated coat closet with hooks on the back.” Luckily, these coat hooks are available for less than $15 and even come in three finishes to match any space: white, grey, or black. The best part? Each one is sturdy enough to hold up to 20 pounds, making them great for heavy tote bags.

5. Pillows Scattered Haphazardly

Solution: Decorative Throw Pillow Covers

Czarniecki says “pillows scattered everywhere” is something she finds cringe-worthy. “I always go around and fix them no matter where I am,” she tells Bustle. And while these polyester-velvet throw pillow covers won’t organize themselves for you, they can easily help pull a room together. The best part? They come in dozens of colors to suit any style.

6. Rooms That Feel Too “Themed”

Solution: Natural Textures That Coincide With Your Home’s Location

While it may be tempting to have “themed” rooms in your home, interior designer Phillip Thomas is not a fan. “Please stop with the themed rooms by location!” he tells Bustle. Thomas continues, “No more ‘Everything is Better at the Beach’ signs in beach houses. Instead, let your interiors be inspired by its location. A beautiful seaside color palette and natural wood textures are much more chic than a shell picture frame.”

But if you’re wary about drilling wood panels into your walls, this peel-and-stick wallpaper gives the illusion of a wooden texture while still being renter-friendly. Simply remove the adhesive backing, then press it right into place like you would with a regular sticker.

7. Clutter On The Countertops

Solution: This Kitchen Turntable For Spices & More

“Nothing makes me cringe more than when I see clutter! Especially when it’s clutter on countertops,” explains Ashley Daubert, an interior designer at Beam. She continues, “As an interior designer, highlighting the materials and pieces in your home is so important and that can easily be ruined by clutter. In the kitchen, homeowners may want to consider a turn table for grouping together oils and seasonings on their countertops or kitchen island.”

Speaking of turntables, this lazy Susan is a stylish way to reduce clutter, as it’s made from sleek bamboo. Ball bearings in the base allow it to spin smoothly, making it easy to reach items sitting on the opposite side from where you’re seated. You also have the choice of two sizes: 14 inches or 10 inches.

Solution: Appliance Sliders For Easier Storage

“Too many appliances on your countertops can also make a kitchen feel cluttered or too busy, so I recommend investing in under-counter appliance storage for products such as your beloved stand mixer,” Daubert tells Bustle. But if you’re looking for a more affordable solution, these appliance sliders are available for less than $15. They’re sturdy enough to support nearly any appliance, from large air fryers to smaller coffee makers. Plus, their adhesive backings make installation a total breeze.

Solution: These Baskets For Your Kitchen Pantry

Instead of crowding your countertops with kitchen necessities, Daubert recommends investing in a good set of storage baskets. “Lastly, storage baskets can make a big difference in getting clutter off your countertops and into your pantry, cabinets, or built-ins,” she tells Bustle. “These work for everything from spices and baking ingredients to cooking utensils.”

Not only are these storage baskets made from 100% natural seagrass, but they’re also large enough for all sorts of pantry items. Handles on either side make it easy to pull them out and set them on your counters when you need something — and you even have the choice of five different colors, ranging from dark brown to natural beige.

8. Large, Oversized Wall Clocks

Solution: A Chic, Decorative LED Digital Clock

Oversized wall clocks had their day in the sun — but Devin Shaffer, the lead interior designer at Decorilla Online Interior Design, tells Bustle that it’s time for a change. Referring to “large traditional clocks,” Shaffer says, “Time is of the essence and something that needs to happen immediately is all traditional wall clock replicas need to go away.” He continues, “I'm still confused by the idea of an oversized clock working as a decor element. Maybe it's just me but I don't see a purpose for clocks anymore with all of the gadgets we have around us and the option of going digital!”

With that being said, why not downsize to this sleek LED clock? The reflective face gives it a chic vibe, while two USB ports on the side let you charge your devices. Plus, the numbers are also dimmable — just in case the brightness is disrupting your nap.

9. Decorative Mirror Trays

Solution: This Tray That’s Made From Natural Cork

Mirror trays might seem like a fun addition to your coffee table, but they can get dirty fast. In fact, Shaffer tells Bustle that “mirrored surfaces are immediately a tricky thing” and explains how they become “unsightly” when used often.

But if you still need some sort of tray to help keep your space organized, Shaffer recommends one made out of a non-reflective material: “I must say that I feel every living room or coffee table should have a tray or two and cork is a fun material to check out.” With that in mind, this cork tray is a solid choice for less than $12. It’s large enough to hold everything from keys to coins and even comes in six different colors.

10. Flat, Painted Accent Walls

Solution: This Peel & Stick Wallpaper

An accent wall is an easy way to upgrade a dull room, but the only trick is making sure it stands out in the right way. “My biggest pet peeve is seeing a living room with one wall that's painted in a super dramatic color,” Shaffer explains. “Paint is flat by nature and it just doesn't make sense to try to make a room special by using the same finish but in a different color.”

Shaffer continues, “I've got a secret, check out peel and stick wallpaper!” Not only is this roll available in two stark colors (navy and white or black and gold), but the adhesive backing makes it easy to remove if you’re renting. Plus, it shouldn’t ruin the wall underneath when it comes time to peel it off.

11. Bulky Entertainment Centers

Solution: An Adjustable TV Wall Mount

“Having the liberty to wall mount a TV is one of the most freeing feelings,” Shaffer tells Bustle. And not only is this television mount cheaper than buying a bulky entertainment center, but it can also support up to 44 pounds, or any television up to 42 inches. The best part? It also lets you rotate your television 360 degrees, and can also swivel out to 180 degrees if you need to adjust the viewing angle.

12. Outdated TV Trays

Solution: A Coffee Table That Lifts Up For Easy Dining

Eating off a TV tray might be convenient at the moment, but when it comes to interior design, Shaffer suggests upgrading to a lift-top coffee table instead. “I'm still tormented to this day by the living arrangements I experienced during my college years and can't begin to fathom having a TV tray in my living room for this reason,” he explains. “The neon sign solution is an adjustable coffee table that lets me dine and unwind on demand.”

And don’t worry — while buying a new piece of furniture might sound expensive, this lift-top coffee table is available for less than $90. Three cubbies on the bottom give you room for storage, and you even have the choice of five finishes: espresso, black, grey, brown, or white and oak.

13. Tables Covered In Tech Devices & Wires

Solution: A Charging Station That Keeps Everything Looking Tidy

Maggie Stephens, an interior designer, isn’t a fan of seeing messy wires. “I absolutely cringe when I see a surface cluttered with tablets, phones, cameras, etc and a nest of charging cords,” she tells Bustle. “These piles tend to form in the kitchen or home office.”

Luckily, she also has an easy solution: “A charging station doesn’t have to be expensive and immediately makes that surface cleaner and more attractive.” This charging station in particular also includes seven shortened charging cables to help keep wire clutter to a minimum: three micro-USB, three lightning, as well as one type-C. Plus, its fast-charging ports automatically adjust to power up your phone as quickly as it can handle.

14. Lighting That Doesn’t Suit Your Space

Solution: These Smart Bulbs With So Many Color Options

According to Margarita Bravo, a high-end interior designer, there’s a time and a place for certain types of light. “Know where to use white light versus yellow light bulbs,” she explains. “White lights should be used for functional areas and yellow lights in areas to create a mood. Use dimmers to turn the brightness up or down.”

These smart bulbs offer a variety of colors as well as options to dim the shine. Not only can you switch them from cool to warm light using the downloadable smartphone app, but they can also light up in millions of different bright shades. Plus, they use up to 84% less energy than comparable incandescent bulbs.

Solution: A Plug-In Switch That Lets You Dim Your Lights

As Bravo mentioned, adjusting the brightness is an option while customizing the lighting in your home. If you’d rather stick with your existing bulbs and lamps, this dimmer switch is a smart purchase. It’s designed to work with halogen and incandescent bulbs, allowing you to adjust their brightness simply by dragging the slider switch up or down. The power cable is also extra-long — just in case the outlet is far away — and installation is as easy as plugging it in.

15. Messy, Untidy Closets

Solution: A Hanging Closet Organizer

“Unorganized closets, cabinets, and pantries create unorganized and messy minds and lives,” explains Bravo. She continues, “Organize your space to be functional. Use proper hangers for your closets and group your clothing.”

Once your hangers are looking neat and tidy, it’s time to tackle those overflowing shelves — and this organizer can help. It adds five shelves to your closet, giving you ample room for sweaters, purses, jeans, and more. Mesh pockets on the side are the perfect place to stash smaller accessories, and the hooks at the top are even made from sturdy stainless steel.

16. Overflowing, Disorganized Pantries

Solution: These Tiered Shelves That Help Maximize Your Space

The pantry might just be the most important space in your kitchen, and yet it’s almost too easy for it to devolve into a jumbled mess of spices, dry ingredients, and more. Thankfully, Bravo has a solution: “Categorize and label items in your pantry; use stair step shelves to maximize your space.” These shelves in particular are lined with nonslip to help keep items from getting knocked off and are wide enough to fit everything from canned tomatoes to pickle jars. Plus, many reviewers wrote about how they were a “game changer” in their home.

17. Unmade Beds With Uncomfortable Linens

Solution: These Cooling, Wrinkle-Resistant Sheets

Making your bed is an important part of having a clean bedroom, but Bravo says that the sheets you’re sleeping on can also make a huge difference. “Not only do beautiful linens transform your bedroom into a stylish, trendy comfort zone, which reflects your taste and character, but they also provide better sleep which improves the quality of your life,” she explains. “The quality of your sheets can make all the difference in creating comfortable sleep.”

As for what sheets to choose? Bravo recommends that you “Choose bedding that doesn't trap heat, so you don't sweat at night and eventually wake up” — and these sheets are a solid choice that won’t break the bank. Not only are they made from soft, cooling microfiber, but they’re also resistant to wrinkles, fading, stains, and shrinking.

18. Window Treatments That Don’t Fit The Room

Solution: These Curtains That Come In So Many Sizes

According to Adriene Ged, the lead interior designer of EDGE Interiors, buying curtains that are too big or too small can draw attention in all the wrong ways. “For me, proportion and scale are huge,” she tells Bustle. “Spotting a window treatment that is too short and narrow or a tiny television over a huge media console will definitely stick out visually to me.”

Thankfully, these curtains come in six different sizes to suit nearly any space, as well as more than 20 colors. They’re also incredibly thick, allowing them to block up to 100% of outside light and help insulate your home.

19. Too Many Accessories Around The House

Solution: These Bins For Storing Extra Accessories

There’s a fine balance between having an empty, plain home, versus one that’s too decorated. “Another big one [cringe], in my opinion, is over-accessorizing,” Ged tells Bustle. She continues, “Less is more here. Every countertop, shelf, and wall need not be filled with something. The eye needs to rest. Cramming too much into a space can be both visually and mentally overwhelming to guests.”

But if you aren’t sure where to put your extra decorations, these bins can help keep them hidden from sight. You can also incorporate them into your decor if you like, as they come in subtle colors, like black, beige, brown, and grey, as well as more vibrant shades, including red, green, pink, and more. Plus, each one collapses flat when you aren’t using it.

20. Decorating With The Wrong-Size Rugs

Solution: This Rug That’s Available In Dozens Of Sizes

“Choosing the wrong size rug actually makes a room look and feel smaller and screams ‘I didn't hire a professional,’” explains Megan Dufresne, the principal designer at MC Design. She continues, “The rug is the foundation of the room and pulls everything together. When it doesn't hit the mark it makes a big impact on the whole space.”

Even though buying a new rug can be expensive, this one is available for less than $60 and comes in dozens of sizes to suit nearly any space. It’s designed to hold up in high-traffic areas, whether you have rambunctious kids or zooming pets — and the low-pile height is unlikely to snag on doors.

21. Low-Quality Curtain Rods

Solution: These Metal Curtain Rods That Are Available In 3 Shades

Sometimes, the smallest accents can make the biggest impact — and a cheap curtain rod can really bring the room down. Dufresne tells Bustle, “Some items that really give away their quality at a glance are cheap curtains hung on flimsy hardware and low-quality rugs that don't fit the space they are in,” she explains. So if your curtain rods could use an upgrade, consider making the switch to this sleek one from Amazon Basics. It can hold up to 20 pounds, making it suitable for many heavier curtains. Plus, it can also extend from 48 out to 88 inches — just in case you’re working with extra-wide windows.

22. Sofas With Built-In Cupholders

Solution: A Cupholder That Sits On Your Sofa Armrest

Dufresne says, “If I could get rid of one item in any home it would be sofas with built-in cup holders! Followed closely by microfiber sofas and recliners in general.” She continues, “They all throw elegance and refinement out the window and simply bring down the aesthetic appeal of any living room.”

But if you still need somewhere to place your drink, this cupholder sits on your sofa’s armrest, giving you somewhere to rest most cups. It also features a stylish gold accent around the rim for a little touch of chic — and there’s even space to store small remotes if needed.

23. Empty Wall Space Where A Mirror Could Be

Solution: A Circular Hanging Wall Mirror For Under $25

Paige Anderson, an interior designer for Nitido Design, tells Bustle that “an empty wall” is a cringe-worthy decor mistake — more specifically, “an empty wall where there could be a bookshelf, artwork, or a mirror instead of a blank space just waiting for clutter to happen!”

This decorative mirror is a great choice for under $25. Not only is it great for styling up plain walls, but the gold frame and chain also make it look more expensive than it is. One reviewer even wrote, “Very cute mirror, ties in perfectly with the decor in my living room. The materials feel very expensive even though it's affordable.”

24. Untidy Rooms Filled With Clutter

Solution: This Giant Rope Basket For Storage

According to Anderson, one cringe-worthy decor mistake is when “the room is cluttered with stuff.” She continues, “You want to be able to walk around in your home without running into things or tripping over things all the time!”

With that in mind, this giant rope basket is a stylish way to help de-clutter your bedroom or living room. It’s large enough for multiple throw blankets, or even that pile of dirty clothes sitting in the corner of your closet. Handles on either side make it easy to carry around — and you can even fold it down when you aren’t using it.

25. Your Windows Aren’t Clean Or Letting Enough Light Inside

Solution: These Sheer Curtains That Help Brighten The Room

Another thing that makes Anderson cringe is when “the windows are dirty and don't let enough light into the room.” These sheer curtains might be the move if you’re hoping to clean up your window area while still letting sunshine inside. They still let light through, but they also give you a little extra privacy. Choose from 12 sizes, as well as more than 15 colors.

Solution: This Scrubber For Cleaning Those Windows

If you live in a home where you’re able to early clean your windows, this scrubber can help you get them sparkling clean. Its telescopic handle stretches out from 23 to 62 inches, giving up almost 11 feet of reach. Each order also includes two streak-free squeegee blades, as well as four reusable mop heads made from absorbent microfiber.

26. Outdated Tile Countertops

Solution: This Contact Paper That Looks Like Marble

Gena Kirk, the vice president of corporate design at KB Home, tells Bustle, “Tile countertops can certainly express an artistic side, but after peaking in popularity in the ‘70s and ‘80s, many people find them challenging and expensive to maintain.” As for what people are choosing instead? Kirk explains, “Many of our buyers gravitate toward sleek quartz because it’s beautiful, stain-resistant, and antimicrobial. Overall, just easy to love.”

An affordable alternative is this white marble contact paper that’s a total game-changer. It goes on just like a sticker and peels off like one, too. The vinyl material is also water-resistant, so there’s no need to worry about getting it wet if you install it around your kitchen sink.

27. Gallery Walls That Aren’t Spaced Correctly

Solution: This Bubble Level That Doubles As A Laser Measuring Tape

Gallery walls are an easy way to fill up blank space, but Hayley Perrault, an interior designer and sustainability specialist at MA Design, tells Bustle about the importance of arranging your frames correctly. She explains, “Gallery walls are not hard, but they can go wrong easily. Spacing between pieces should be tighter than you think and as consistent as possible. [...] A tighter cluster of smaller art pieces and photos is more effective than a smattering of frames across the wall.”

In order to get your pictures hung perfectly, you might need help from the right tools — like this bubble level. Not only will it show you if your frames are crooked, but it also features a laser measuring tape so that you can make sure each frame is spaced evenly. Batteries are included.

28. Decorations That Are All The Same Size

Solution: These Ceramic Vases That Come In Varying Heights

Choosing decorations that are all the same height might sound smart, but according to Janell Arehart, an interior designer at MA Design, variety is the name of the game. “I also cringe when I see accessories that are all the same scale,” she tells Bustle. “You need some large scale, some medium scale, and just a few that are small.”

The only trick is that judging height when you’re buying decor online can be a challenge. Instead, check out these vases. They come in varying heights so that there’s no need to buy extras — they’re already styled to look good. They’re also made from sleek ceramic, giving them an expensive feel at an exceptionally reasonable price.

29. Unwelcoming Entryways

Solution: An Entryway Organizer That’s Also Decorative

Your entryway is one of the first things guests see when they step into your home, making it important to give a good impression. Maria DeCotiis, the owner of Maria DeCotiis Interior Design, tells Bustle, “Upon entering a home it should feel welcoming and set the stage for the rest of the home. I cringe when I enter a home that doesn't have a thoughtfully designed entryway.” But if you aren’t sure how to make the most of your space, DeCotiis says, “It's all about planning! Think about how the space will be used. From there you can start adding furniture, art, and accessories to give the space a wow factor.”

For a combination of decor and storage, you could also add this entryway organizer so that all your shoes, jackets, hats, and more have somewhere to neatly hang. There’s also space for artwork and decor if you want to spruce it up — and it even comes in two sizes depending on how much room you’re working with: four or five tiers.

Solution: A Key Holder That Comes In 5 Finishes

If you have the space for it, this key holder is a smart addition to any entryway. Five hooks along the bottom give you more than enough space for everything from mittens to keys, while the shelf on the top gives you somewhere to store mail when you walk through the door. Choose from five finishes: black, brown, grey, light brown, or white.

30. Lighting That Doesn’t Match The Decor

Solution: These Puck Lights That Are Easy To Install

Poor lighting can make a huge impact on your home, but there are solutions: “Let’s be honest here — lighting can make or break a design,” Linda Haase, an NCIDQ-certified interior designer, tells Bustle. She explains, “If your lighting isn’t cohesive with the rest of your decor, then it will look out of place and totally ruin the ambiance of your space.”

And if your home could use a little extra light? These remote-controlled LED pucks can help brighten up any room, as they stay in place using double-sided adhesive — no drilling required. Try them underneath cabinets for some chic kitchen lighting, or even use them to brighten up dark closets. The brightness is even adjustable, so you can customize the shine to fit your decor.

Solution: The LED Backlights That Glow In 15 Colors

Changing the colors of your lights can do a lot to set a relaxing mood, so why not give this LED light strip a try? The remote lets you switch between 15 different colors, from bright yellow to soothing blue — and the adhesive backing makes it easy to install them wherever you like — not only behind your TV. Plus, the brightness is adjustable up to 10 levels.

31. Rooms That Are Lacking Texture

Solution: A Textured Throw Blanket That’ll Help Add Warmth To The Room

“Another thing I hate is walking into a room without any type of texture and the room looks cold with no added warmth,” says Haase. Thankfully, adding texture to your home is as easy as draping this throw blanket over your bed or sofa. The knit pattern gives it some visual interest, while also adding a warm, inviting softness wherever you place it. Choose from three sizes and more than 20 colors.

32. A Poster With A “Bad Font”

Solution: A Museum Print To Display, Instead

Amanda Gunawan, a founding partner of OWIU Design, explains to Bustle, “Nothing crushes me more than to see a room that's decorated with a poster of a cheesy caption in a bad font.” She continues, “Fonts are tricky: They are graphic elements, and like all graphic elements, they convey a visual message and evoke a certain mood or emotion, however neutral they might seem. The mistake people make is that they assume fonts simply serve as a display of words and not an actual graphic. A bad font can really make a space incoherent.”

Instead of accidentally choosing the wrong font for your space, Gunawan recommends adding a museum poster like this Van Gogh canvas print to the decor. She says “they're designed by artists and experts, so typically a safe bet.” Plus, this print is waterproof as well as UV- and fade-resistant — and there are 10 options to pick from.

33. Plain Walls Without Shelves Or Decorations

Solution: These Hanging Shelves Made With Wooden Bases

Aside from posters, Gunawan suggests using shelves to spruce up blank walls. “Beyond a poster, consider other uses for the wall, such as a hanging shelf with ceramics or decorative items,” she tells Bustle. And not only are these hanging style shelves gorgeous on their own, but they even serve as the perfect spot to add small decorations.

Solution: These Ceramic Planters To Decorate Those Shelves With

With their sleek ceramic frames and chic gold accents, these decorative bowls are easy ways to add style to shelves and vary the textures in your home. The gold accents make them look way more expensive than $19, and they’re so versatile that you can use them for everything from faux succulents to loose change.

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