Designers Shudder When They See These Common Mistakes In Homes

Upgrades to elevate your home, from the pros.

Written by Claire Epting
Originally Published: 
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For the majority of us, there’s no room in the budget to hire an interior designer — but that doesn’t mean creating a beautiful living space is totally out of the question. In fact, just a little expert insight can go a long way. But before you take a deep dive into DIY projects and Pinterest pages, it helps to know what not to do. So if you want to discover what experts advise against, here are some common home mistakes that make designers shudder.

When I say “common mistakes,” I mean it. I’m willing to bet most of us have made one or two missteps — if not 10 or 20. Fortunately, all it takes is a few cheap tweaks to correct them, like swapping out synthetic napkins for a set made with natural linen, or adding some kitchen cabinet functionality with a slide-out spice rack.

Even if you do have an interior designer, you might pick up a some helpful knowledge, courtesy of these clever home design tips.


Mistake: Using Wrinkly Wash & Sleep Sheets

Fix: These Crisp Cotton Percale Sheets

Made from 100% organic cotton with a tight percale weave, these crisp sheets will make you feel like you’re sleeping in a luxurious hotel. “There’s nothing like the feel of freshly pressed, high thread count percale sheets,” says Vincente Wolf, renowned designer with 40 years of experience. With this set, you can choose from colors such as classic white, light gray, and soft lavender.

  • Available sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King
  • Available colors: 10


Mistake: Keeping Thin Towels In Your Bathroom

Fix: A Set Of Thick, Plush Towels With A Luxurious Feel

When it comes to towels, Wolf says, “They should be thick and thirsty. I don’t want to work to dry myself.” Not only are these ring-spun cotton towels fluffier and more luxurious than thin ones, but they’re also super absorbent. You get eight towels in a set — two bath towels, two hand towels, and four washcloths. The set is available in over a dozen shades, ranging from neutral gray to sage green to deep burgundy.

  • Available colors: 15


Mistake: Setting The Table With Synthetic Napkins

Fix: These Rustic Napkins Made From Natural Materials

Wolf advises staying away from synthetic napkins; after all, “You have to be able to wipe grease off your face properly,” he says. These fabric napkins are made of a cotton-linen blend, giving them a natural look and feel — much more inviting than their synthetic alternatives. The rustic-looking napkins come in a set of four, with 10 rich shades to pick from.

  • Available colors: 10


Mistake: Lighting Artificial Candles Instead Of Real Ones

Fix: A Soy-Based Candle Scented With Essential Oils

While flameless candles are fine in a pinch, nothing beats the lovely fragrance of a real scented soy candle. “Using real scented candles packed with essential oils like lavender or eucalyptus can help transform your home into a spa-like sanctuary to improve one’s well-being,” says Lisa Kahn, interior designer in Naples, Florida. This one comes in 30 different scents, from spiced vanilla to sandalwood rose.

  • Available scents: 30


Mistake: Switching On Lights That Aren’t On Dimmers

Fix: A Smart Dimmer Switch For Softer Lighting

You can instantly give your space a more relaxing vibe by simply dimming the lights — and this smart dimmer switch makes it easy to do so with your smartphone. Or, you can pair the switch with your Amazon Alexa device and control the light’s brightness with a simple voice command. “Having lights that can be dimmed is a game-changer,” says Kahn. “We need to have soft lighting to help us relax and create a sense of sanctuary at home.”


Mistake: Decorating With Loud Colors & Accessories In Bedrooms

Fix: A Duvet Cover In Muted Tones

According to Irena Levy, principal designer at Blue Sage Interiors, you should be saving your brightly colored home decor for areas other than your bedroom. “I love pops of colors, but bedrooms are meant for relaxation and sleeping. Loud colors can disturb that,” she says. This washed microfiber duvet cover comes in lots of subtle shades, including baby blue, light gray, and pink mocha.

  • Available sizes: Twin, Full, Queen, King, California King
  • Available colors: 14


Mistake: Having Too Much Of The Same Theme, Color Or Material

Fix: A Muslin Throw Blanket With A Gauzy Texture

When it comes to interior decorating, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. “Rooms thrive from different textures, colors and variety,” says Levy. This muslin cotton throw blanket is an easy way to add a new texture to your bedroom or living room without drawing too much attention. It comes in vibrant hues, such as mustard yellow and rust orange, allowing you to incorporate a pop of color into your space.

  • Available sizes: 55 inches x 60 inches, 60 inches x 80 inches
  • Available colors: 14


Fix: A Rattan Tray With A Natural Vibe

This rattan tray is another cool piece that adds an interesting texture to your home. Designed with built-in handles, the round tray can easily be carried from room to room. Use it to hold fruit, reed diffusers, or towels, or simply leave it out as a catchall tray for your small belongings.


Fix: Some Ceramic Coasters With A Marble Pattern

Made from absorbent ceramic with a nonslip cork base, these coasters provide the perfect spot to rest your beverage — hot or cold. The ceramic stone surface has a cool marble texture to it, giving it a sophisticated look and feel. When not in use, the eight coasters can be stored in the minimalist metal holder that comes with the set.

  • Available colors: 5


Mistake: Not Having Enough Ambient Lighting

Fix: A Design-Savvy Floor Lamp With A Minimalist Base

Atlanta interior designer Kevin Francis O’Gara recommends ditching harsh overhead lighting in the living room and bedroom and embracing ambient, eye-level fixtures like this floor lamp. It has a minimalist metal base, which comes in both matte and brushed metal finishes. “Make sure at least three corners of the room have a lamp nearby, to help expand the edges of the space to make it feel larger and more inviting,” O’Gara says.

  • Available colors: 8


Fix: A Table Lamp With A Unique Geometric Design

Another way to add ambient lighting to your room is a table lamp — this one has a geometric metal base with a contemporary feel. Complete with a tan fabric shade that softens the light, the lamp casts a warm glow in any bedroom or living room. Plus, it’s easy to turn on and off with the switch built into the power cable.

  • Available colors: 4


Mistake: Using Pillows That Are Too Small For The Sofa Or Bed

Fix: These Generously Sized Throw Pillow Inserts

When it comes to decorating a couch or bed with pillows, bigger is typically better — smaller pillows will get lost in large pieces of furniture. “You’ll want to anchor the corners of these pieces with pillows that are at least 22 by 22 inches in size to be better proportioned,” he explains. These throw pillow inserts are the perfect size — simply add a cover and you’re all set.

  • Available sizes: 10


Mistake: Leaving Clutter Around Your Living Room

Fix: A Contemporary Rack That Stores Your Magazines

Making your home feel organized doesn’t mean getting rid of everything — it’s more about finding ways to conceal your belongings in plain sight. “When there are so many cute and inexpensive ways to hide clutter, take advantage of all the possibilities,” says Katherine Martinez, interior designer at MA design. This modern storage rack holds magazines, books, and documents, while also elevating any coffee table or shelf you place it on.

  • Available colors: 4


Fix: A Wooden Organizer For Mail & Stray Papers

Martinez also isn’t a fan of seeing people’s “I’ll get to this later” piles. Instead of letting mail and stray papers stack up on your counter, simply place them inside this tiered wooden organizer. With an antique metal detail on the front, the holder adds a timeless touch to any room. There are three spacious slots — the front row has two dividers that create smaller compartments for pens, scissors, and other office supplies.

  • Available colors: 4


Fix: These Storage Cubes For Storing Miscellaneous Items

For more organization, you can store just about anything inside these fabric storage cubes — their opaque design keeps it all hidden from view. Available in both neutral and bright colors, the boxes can be stacked on top of one another against a wall or placed side by side on your shelf. When not in use, they collapse into a flat design to save space.

  • Available colors: 10


Fix: Some Under-Bed Organizers For Shoes & Boots

With a transparent top cover and easy-pull handles on the sides, these shoe organizers fit conveniently under your bed — yet another clever way to conceal clutter. Not only do they allow you to quickly locate and access all of your shoes at once, but they protect each pair from dust and debris. The set includes one organizer that can hold 16 pairs of shoes, and another that has larger compartments for four pairs of boots.

  • Available colors: Beige, Black


Fix: The Stainless Steel Canisters That Tidy Up Your Pantry

Don’t neglect pantry organization; designed with airtight screw-on lids, these steel canisters are an upgrade from store packaging and also ensure your dried goods will stay fresher for longer. You get four canisters in a set, in a variety of heights. Each one is designed with a transparent window that allows you to view the contents inside.


Mistake: Installing Cool-Tone LED Lights In Your Home

Fix: These Soft White Bulbs With A Warm Glow

Los Angeles-based interior designer Suzy Kloner warns against using cool-tone LED light bulbs in your home, as they can make it difficult for you to relax at the end of the day. Rather, you can use these soft white bulbs — they cast a warmer light across your space. They’re compatible with most dimmer switches, so you can control their brightness.


Mistake: Hanging Short Curtains

Fix: These Full-Length Curtains That Are More Elegant

Another one of Kloner’s tips for elevating your space? Making sure you use full-length curtains. Made from a linen-like fabric, these curtains come in a wide variety of colors to fit your home’s individual aesthetic. The opaque drapes create an air of privacy, while also dressing up your windows.

  • Available sizes: 9
  • Available colors: 12


Mistake: Placing One Piece Of Small Artwork On A Big Wall

Fix: A Collection Of Botanical-Inspired Art Prints

Kloner isn’t a fan of a single, small piece of artwork on a large wall — it can be reminiscent of a college dorm, and not in a fun way. A cohesive collection of artwork solves this problem, such as this set of wallet-friendly botanical prints. Each one features a different floral design that complements the set as a whole, creating a look that’s both eclectic and put-together.


Mistake: Neglecting Color In Your Home

Fix: These Picture Frames That Add Character To Your Space

While neutral colors are a safe bet when it comes to interior decorating, you shouldn’t be afraid to add a bold hue to your layout. “There HAS to be a pop of color as a focal point,” says Simran Kaur, founder of design blog Room You Love. “No color means no mood.” These picture frames come in a variety of vibrant shades, including orange, teal, apricot, and light blue. Place them on a bookshelf or hang them on the wall to liven up your space.

  • Available multipacks: 4


Mistake: Adding *Too* Many Colors To A Room

Fix: A Neutral Design Element Like This Table Runner

On the other hand, “Too many colors in the same place make it look too gaudy, uninviting, bright, and clumsy!” says Kaur. In other words, you’ll want to use them sparingly. To balance things out, this woven table runner comes in four neutral shades such as beige and gray, blending in with any table setup. A row of tassels on either end boosts the runner’s natural vibe.

  • Available sizes: 4
  • Available colors: 4


Mistake: Not Using Rugs In Your Home

Fix: A Budget-Friendly Rug To Pull The Room Together

If your living room doesn’t have a rug, you may be missing an opportunity to make your space look more cohesive. “Rugs pull the entire room together. Without them, everything looks so off and unrelated and out of balance!” says Kaur. With a distressed, vintage look, this area rug has all the qualities of a fine antique tapestry — but it comes at a fraction of the price of other rugs.

  • Available sizes: 10
  • Available colors and patterns: 6


Mistake: Having Too Much Chrome In Your Room

Fix: These Brass Drawer Pulls That Are Warm & Calming

Metal accents on your drawers can add a cool, sophisticated look to your home, but the type of metal you pick makes a difference. Too much chrome can give your home a factory-like feel, according to Sarah Bowen, a U.K.-based interior designer and founder of Spruce Up!. These brushed brass drawer pulls have a warmer, more inviting presence. “This is why interior designs love adorning kitchens with brass handles,” says

  • Available colors: Black, Brushed Brass, Satin Nickel


Mistake: Not Organizing Stray Items

Fix: This Oversize Basket For Large Items

“We love using a collection of baskets that make cleaning up and sorting much easier,” say Mark Cutler and Nichole Schulze, founders of LA interior design firm cutlerschulze. So if you don’t want to let clutter get the best of your home, just invest in simple pieces to hold your belongings, like this natural cotton rope basket with built-in side handles. Use it to hold laundry, blankets, dog toys — you name it.

  • Available colors: 5


Fix: A 4-Pack Of Wire Baskets For Small Items

This set of four wire baskets are great for holding any loose items that don’t have have a home otherwise. They have a minimalist look that fits in just about anywhere — they’re even safe to go in the fridge. You’ll find that they’re particularly useful for multi-person households, since each person can use their own designated bin.


Mistake: Not Paying Attention To Your Mirror Placement

Fix: A Hanging Mirror You Can Place Anywhere

While mirrors can absolutely brighten up a space, Mia Knezevic, writer at design blog Room Crush, suggests being mindful of where you place it — so you don’t accidentally call attention to a messy corner of the room. This chic circular mirror includes a gold-brushed chain that allows you to hang it anywhere on your wall, so you can pick the spot that highlights the best part of your home.

  • Available sizes: 9.8 inches, 11.8 inches, 15.7 inches


Mistake: Decorating In All White When Going For Minimalism

Fix: These Colorful Minimalist Vases

Knezevic warns against using all white when going for a minimalist aesthetic because it creates a “cold and clinical look, [which is] the opposite of the calm feeling that minimalism is supposed to give you.” To break up an all-white (or beige) interior, group these vases on a mantel or shelf. With soft rounded edges and a matte finish, the simple vases are calming but add just enough color.


Fix: These Pillow Covers In Neutrals & Brights

Another easy way to add a pop of color to a single-tone interior is by swapping out your throw pillow covers. These throw pillow covers have a natural burlap texture that feels right at home in a low-key space. You can choose a contrasting neutral like gray or linen, or opt for a little more brightness with shades like yellow or baby pink. They come in a variety of sizes, so you can slip them over the pillows you already own — or you can buy brand new inserts.


Mistake: Not Making Your Kitchen Cupboards More Functional

Fix: A Rack That Stores Pots & Pans

Leigh Spicher is an interior designer for Ashton Woods and her main gripe is lack of kitchen cabinet functionality: “Homeowners make the mistake of just choosing a door style and color, and leave the inside of the cabinet as a big empty box. [...] In other words, good design goes beyond color or style. For cabinets it also includes how they function and will help you live.” If your kitchen doesn’t have clever built-ins, you can add them yourself. Start with this pan organizer that stores your cookware in a way that makes it easy to grab whatever you need — even if it’s on the bottom of the stack.


Fix: A Slide-Out Spice Rack

Here’s another clever way to increase cabinet functionality: a slide-out spice rack. The two-tier rack maximizes unused vertical space, and the slide-out mechanism means you can always reach the spice jar in back without any hassle. You can choose from multiple sizes to accommodate your spice collection, and installation is a breeze.

  • Available sizes: 5
  • Available colors: 3


Fix: This In-Drawer Knife Block

Spicher recommends hidden chef knife storage, and this in-drawer knife holder fits the bill. Designed to hold up to nine knives, the two-tier design is space-efficient to the max. A nonslip bottom keeps everything in place when you open and shut the drawer, so your blades will never get knocked around and damaged.

  • Available colors: 3


Fix: These Clear, Stackable Bins That Hold Bottles Of Wine

Spicher points out that dedicated wine storage is key, but if you don’t have a built-in rack, this wine and water bottle organizer holds six bottles of wine (or other beverages) in place — while keeping the labels visible. Stackable and made from clear, BPA-free plastic, these bins can be placed in your cabinet to make your wine collection more easily accessible. Use them also in your fridge or pantry.


Fix: An Organizer For Food Storage Lids

Another excellent way to upgrade the usefulness of your cabinets? This food storage lid organizer. It holds lids in an upright position and the adjustable divides let you sort by size. You’ll be surprised how much space you get back once your cupboard (or drawer) isn’t a chaotic mess of mismatched lids.

  • Available sizes: 3


Fix: A Set Of Stackable Cabinet Shelves

Making use of your cabinet’s unused vertical space is key — and these stackable shelves help you do it. They’re ideally sized for storing short items like medicine, seasonings, and coffee mugs. Made from sturdy coated steel, they can be used side by side or placed on top of each other.

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