What are Some Interior Design Mistakes to Avoid?

Sheri Cyprus

Interior design can be daunting for non-professionals. It's common for non-professional interior designers to feel confident in one area such as color, but then feel lost when it comes to another area such as choosing furniture. This list of a few basic interior design mistakes to avoid may help the novice home decorator:

It may be helpful to consult an interior designer who understands how a client's lifestyle factors into her interior design choices.
It may be helpful to consult an interior designer who understands how a client's lifestyle factors into her interior design choices.

Ignoring the Mood that Color Creates

Once people have chosen the color of their furniture, they can find the exact paint color for the overall look of a room.
Once people have chosen the color of their furniture, they can find the exact paint color for the overall look of a room.

One of the biggest interior design mistakes is an ironic one. In an attempt to get over having everything beige, people unfamiliar with design may go overboard on color and paint each room a different bright shade. This idea may work in larger homes, but may set a confusing or gaudy tone in a smaller home. A great solution is to look at much-loved clothing and decor pieces for clues as to which colors you really love. Think about how to combine a palette of these colors in the whole home to set the mood you want.

Buying Paint Before Fabrics and Furniture

Many interior designers recommend choosing fabrics and furniture before paint colors. This is a valuable idea since even beige comes in light or dark and warm or cool shades. Once you have the color of your furniture and fabrics, you can find the exact paint color to give you the overall look you want in your room. For example, dark furniture and fabrics may contrast well with a light wall and vice versa.

Forgetting the Focal Point

One of the most common interior design mistakes is to forget to create a focal point. Most professional interior designers stress that every room should have a focal point, or a main feature that attracts the eye. For instance, if you have a great fireplace or bay window, bring attention to these areas in an attractive way so that they stand out beautifully in the room. A focal point can also be created such as with a wall mural or even with a Christmas tree during the holidays.

Using Unrealistic Materials

Thinking about the care and maintenance of furnishings is important. For example, glass table tops may have an elegant appeal, but unless you're willing to clean them frequently they may not be the right choice. One of the biggest interior design mistakes is having wall-to-wall carpet in the bathroom. Most interior designers, as well as home buyers, detest the idea of any type of carpeting installed in a bathroom because of the potential for mold and germs.

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Discussion Comments


@runner101 - I have a tip that I think will bring together what @Tomislav mentioned.

My tip to not have color overload in your house is to put all of the colors together and see if the colors you chose for each room go together. Because although they may not be right next to each other they give the overall feel of your house.

If you have a color you love but just does not fit in with the overall color scheme, think about having that as an accent color, where you might have it in a picture or paint the frame of a decorative mirror that color.


@runner101 - I know exactly what you mean. Paint is such an easy way to add color to your design and when done right it can really add to your furnishings and pictures.

I have one tip that really helped me. It goes along with what the article says - the mood. Colors, I truly believe create a mood. There are entire books that discuss the ins and outs of what moods colors and the different shades of color make. But I think colors create an individual reactionary mood as well.

For example, the team I played for in college was red and blue. So whenever I see those certain shades of red and blue I have reaction that is probably different from others who did not go to college.

But to get started look in the color book and you will find yourself wanting a certain mood for a certain room.

For example if you have a child's playroom you might want the color on the walls to be yellow because yellow sparks creativity and energy. Or you might want blue in your bedroom because blue typically creates a calm mood.


What a great article! The only thing I would like to add is to emphasize the piece where the author discussed looking into your closet for colors that you love or wear a lot, because I think that this gets to the heart of do it yourself design - you have to put your personality into it!

One of the biggest mistakes I have made is trying to add too much color in an attempt to not have a boring house! Does anyone have a suggestion on how to have a colorful house that does not overwhelm ones senses?


@manykitties2 - That is too funny about your mom's friend. My aunt did the exact same thing when she was trying to give her place a makeover. She was dead set on having the exact same furniture she saw in a magazine, and boy was it way too big for her space.

Another thing I always see people doing that sticks out like a sore thumb is choosing art work that just doesn't work with their overall theme. Just because you love a painting doesn't mean it matches your decor.

I once went into a house that had the most gorgeous modern interior and right in the middle was a huge Victorian era painting that looked like it belonged in a stately old mansion, gilded frame and all. I couldn't stop staring at the painting all night thinking of how out of place it looked!


Interior design can be tricky if you are doing everything yourself but there are plenty of shows and magazines out there to help you. Though, I think one of the biggest mistakes people make is trying to match what they see in a design magazine perfectly.

Often design magazines have a lot more space to work with and can afford to have custom installations put in place. The average homeowner just can't afford those kinds of luxuries.

I remember my friend's mom trying to replicate a look from a design magazine and her furniture ended up way out of scale. Her place was just far to small to be trying to fit in a large sectional couch that was central to the design she loved.

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