Decorating blunders can foil even the best-planned rooms. The good news? Most flubs can be easily skirted — especially if you know the details the tend to trip up most DIY novices. To help, we surveyed a panel of in-the-know pros to get their take on the most common redecorating mistakes. From picking paint prematurely to ignoring a room’s architectural details, here are the biggest mistakes people make when redecorating a space. Plus, get tips on what to do instead!

Design by Haus of Meeshie / Photo by Haus of Meeshie

Passive Paint Picking

When you consider paint’s impact, it’s clear it’s one of the biggest decorating decisions you’ll make. Yet far too often, designer Michelle Fahmy of the firm Haus of Meeshie says, clients approach paint-picking with a less scrutiny than they should. “Time and time again, I’ve seen the mistake of not testing paint swatches on walls before committing to a color,” she says. “The way a color looks on your computer screen, or even on the sample fan deck, can differ greatly once it’s up on your walls.” Swatch-test all of your choices, encourages Michelle, to see how natural light changes the color throughout the day. Also, don’t forget to take inventory of how the color looks after nightfall. Lamplight can also have a dramatic effect on it.  

Putting Decor on Repeat 

Just moved into a new house and hoping to revive your previous home’s decor? Designer Tish Mills warns clients against it, saying, “The issue with this, is that each home has its own personality that needs to work in concert with the homeowner’s taste and style. Successful projects blend the two.” To remedy the problem, Tish asks clients for a side-by-side walkthrough of their new home. During the walkthrough, she chats with clients about what previous decor might work — and what won’t. Be sure to take stock of everything, she says, even your desire to redux your previous home’s paint color. 

Photo courtesy of Still Johnson Interiors

Ignoring Architectural Elements 

When breaking ground on a redecorating project, it’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of buying new furniture. However, making sure your canvas is up-to-snuff is integral to making those new finds really shine. “When redecorating, don’t overlook the architectural details of a space,” says Anna and Marguerite of Still Johnson Interiors. The pair recommends asking yourself questions like, Does the room need a fresh coat of paint? Do the floors need to be refinished? “Outdated architectural elements can limit the success of a redecoration project regardless of furnishings changes,” says Anna. “These updates also create a clean slate for a refreshed design.”

Making a Sentimental Item a Linchpin

Grandma’s dresser. Your aunt’s Neoclassical trumeau mirror. Chances are high that you possess at least one piece of sentimental furniture. However, if a sentimental piece feels out of sync with your decorating project, don’t force it, advise designers Anna Still and Marguerite Johnson. “If you’re holding onto a sentimental piece that isn’t working in the space” says Anna, “try moving it to a peripheral room to see if you can live without it.” Dually, this will allow you to fairly assess the space without the item. “You can always find another place for a sentimental piece or store it until you find its perfect home,” reminds Anna.

Design by Still Johnson Interiors / Photo by Jean Allsopp

Overlooking Scale

“We find that clients come to us when they are stumped with the scale of their furnishings,” says Anna of Still Johnson Interiors. “Oftentimes, the pieces are just too small. Due to mass production and shipping requirements, many new furniture pieces are scaled down to fit standard box sizes.” To remedy the problem, Anna and Marguerite recommend looking for larger pieces outside of catalog companies. “Consider having pieces custom-made, or buying antiques that are generous in size compared to made-to-ship pieces,” says Anna.


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June 5, 2022

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