15 Expensive Decorating Mistakes Designers Won’t Make Again (and How You Can Avoid Them, Too)

1. Not checking out big-ticket furniture items in person

It might seem like a hassle or an extra step in the decorating process, but it’s always worth taking the time to visit a furniture showroom or a brick-and-mortar store (once they’re open) to see a piece in real life before buying it, if possible. “Products don’t always look like the pictures online.”

2. Forgetting to test paint colors in different lighting situations

Whether it’s sunlight streaming into your windows or the color of your light bulbs, designer Rachel Cannon of Rachel Cannon Limited Interiors says lighting can alter the color of your paint. “On one of our projects, after painting the walls of a room a nice gray color, their contractor installed pink LED bulbs throughout,” says Cannon. “The bulbs completely changed the look of the gray paint and made the walls look pink, to which our client expressed great concern and even thought repainting the entire house was necessary!”

3. Using small-scale wallpaper designs in big rooms

Make no mistake about it: designers Tavia Forbes and Monet Masters of Forbes + Masters say that installing wallpaper with a small-scale texture or print in a large room can be a costly mistake. “Beautiful textures and prints wind up getting lost in the space and read as solid color from a distance,” Forbes says. “Small-scale wallpapers are better suited for powder rooms or small entryways,” adds Masters.

4. Not measuring furniture before buying it

If you ask designer Linda Sullivan of Sullivan Design Studio, nothing is worse than falling in love with a furnishing only to discover that it’s the wrong size for your home. “Take out that measuring tape and blue painter’s tape and map out the exact dimensions of your desired new purchase to help you understand how it will work in your space,” she says. “Informed decisions save money (and the hassle of returns)!”

5. Leaving your design plan up in the air

Sure, you may be head-over-heels in love with an expensive sofa, but designer Justin Q. Williams of Trademark Design Co. believes blowing your entire decorating budget on a single piece of furniture isn’t a very smart idea—particularly if you haven’t taken the time to make a design plan before your start shopping. “There’s nothing worse than walking into an empty room with a stunning sofa and nothing else,” he says. “Make a plan and budget for your space before you start decorating.”

6. Cheaping out on window treatments

Although it might seem savvy to buy inexpensive window treatments up front, Haley Weidenbaum, interior designer and founder of Everhem, says it could cost you in the long run. “As a designer, I’ve realized that every window has different dimensions, thus, you can’t buy one size to fit all your windows,” she says. “Investing money in custom window treatments, versus prefabricated panels, ensures you get the perfect look and fit so you won’t have to replace them later.”

7. Buying white or pale upholstered furniture

If you’re thinking about ordering a sofa or armchair upholstered in very light colored fabric, designer Danielle Fennoy of Revamp Interior Design says you might want to reconsider. “My biggest design mistake to date has been ordering an egg chair in white wool fabric,” she says. “Within a very short period of time, it was a hot mess. Moving happened, then a baby, and eventually the chair was unrecognizable. Save yourself the headache and always go with something with a little color or pattern.”

8. Overdoing designer goods

9. Failing to pad a wallpaper order

When it comes time to dress up the walls of your home, designer Anne Carr says not ordering enough wallpaper can be a simple but expensive mistake. “Even if you order more of the exact same wallpaper, sometimes the colorways won’t match,” she says. “Always have the installer give you an estimate, as they typically do this for free.”

In addition, a good rule of thumb is to order about 10 to 20 percent more wallpaper than you actually need to complete your job.

10. Ignoring your room’s scale

When investing in quality furniture, designer Liles Dunnigan of The Warehouse Interiors says it’s essential to make sure the scale of a piece is proportionate to the size of the room. “A huge sectional in a small room will feel cramped, no matter how luxurious or beautiful the piece of furniture may be,” she explains. “On the other hand, if you have a spacious room, do not skimp out on a small sofa or loveseat. It will feel as if it’s floating in a sea of emptiness. Furniture pieces need to be proportional as they relate to one another.”

11. Not measuring the legs of your dining chairs

Nothing ruins a dinner party faster than a dining chair that won’t fit at the table. “Always measure to make sure the legs of your dining chairs fit between the legs of your table,” says designer Marika Meyer. “In my rookie days, I neglected to measure for the ‘extra’ chair that would be added when a client’s dining table was fully extended. We got a call on Christmas Eve from the client because the extra chairs wouldn’t fit—now I always remember to measure twice!”

12. Filling up a space quickly just to “finish” it

No matter how enticing the price tag on an inexpensive piece of furniture may be, Sullivan says investing in a bunch of poorly made furnishings just to complete your room almost always ends in regret. “We suggest pausing on the cheap chair or lamp if it is not absolutely necessary for your space and waiting to save up for the dream one you want to carry with you to all your future homes,” she says. “This will not only save you money, but you will start to curate a collection of items you adore.”

13. Using “postage stamp” sized rugs

If you thought buying a bunch of small rugs—instead of one large area rug—was a smart way to save money when decorating a room, designer Kendall Wilkinson says you’re mistaken. “Rugs serve to anchor the entire room’s design and unify the overall aesthetic,” she explains. “When the rug is too small, it feels like a postage stamp, and the scale as a whole and proportion of the space will suffer.”

14. Not double-checking natural materials before installing them

If you plan on using any natural finishes in your home, such as stone tile or countertops, designer Ashley Moore of Moore House Interiors says to make sure to inspect everything prior to installation. That way, you are sure that materials you have received are what you actually had in mind.

15. Not measuring your elevator—or doorways

While you may have double checked the dimensions of the sofa you ordered to ensure it’s the right size for your living room, designer Megan Hopp advises you to measure your doorway and elevator (if applicable), too. “Early on in my career, I ordered not one but two oversized velvet sofas for a loft space I was working on in Manhattan—no question the sofas would fit the space perfectly—but did I think about the elevator ride up?” she says.

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