Affordable, Interior Design

Lessons Learned – Design Mistakes

Have you ever found the perfect piece and then brought it home, only to realize it is not the right size or color? It happens to the best of us. It is disappointing and frustrating to have to bring it back to the store and stand in line to return it. It can also shake your confidence, but in this post, I will share some of my own design mistakes and how you can avoid your own in the future.

Although ugly, at least you could reupholster this couch with a beautiful fabric.

Design Mistakes

Although I finished my Interior Design training over a year ago, I’ve been designing my own home, as well as friends and families’ homes for over 20 years. There is a lot to be proud of in my work, including warm, welcoming spaces that folks truly love. Spaces that are unique, fun, and hints at the interesting lives of the people that live there.

Bathroom Fixtures

My choice of bathroom fixtures is truly the most costly and irritating design mistake. I found a fantastic local plumbing supply company and worked with a great representative there to help me find high quality, affordable bathroom fixtures. The Moen fixtures have a flat, modern shape that looks great, and they are really well built. However, we must wipe them down after each use because water will sit on top creating water spots. I would have avoided this problem if I had chosen a rounded style.

Ignoring National Kitchen and Bath Recommendations

We designed the kitchen in our last home over 15 years ago and while we loved the style and unusual color choice, we did not follow National Kitchen and Bath (NKAB) Measurement Guidelines. I definitely preceded the current blue kitchen trend by several years and it truly fit our Coastal Cottage home in South Florida. However, I created a unnecessary pinch point at the refrigerator because I did not leave the recommended minimum four feet between the refrigerator and island.

Mixing Wood Finishes

If you are going to mix wood tones, it is best to choose wood finishes with a similar wood tone. Mixing wood tones can be done, buy you will want to follow some rules to get it right. First, you’ll want to choose three dominant wood tones to spread throughout your home. You will notice in the Coastal Modern home we have both medium and light wood tones. For the home to feel cohesive, I make sure to incorporate one or all of these in each room. As you can see from the photo below, the Ikea piece just doesn’t flow with the rest of our home. Luckily, it was not too expensive, so replacing it someday will not be too painful.

Coastal Modern Family Room – Gallery Wall above Kardiel couch coming soon.

Second, you’ll want to add painted and upholstered pieces to help break up the wood tones. This trick isn’t exclusive to furniture. Utilizing decorative accents and foundational pieces (like flooring and built-ins) count too! Here is a great example of wood, painted, and upholstered pieces that allows the room to flow together. Photo and design below by Halfway Wholestic.

Design and Photo by Halfway Wholeistic

“When designing a space, it helps to imagine a pinball going through the room. I make sure that the pinball can bounce off multiple places with the same tone. Here is an example for you! Notice how many points have the same tone throughout this space? You want to aim for at least three points to make the room flow together!” – Katie Staples of

Katie’s Pinball Trick

White Tile and Light Grout Everywhere

Although, many folks like a light and bright space, there are ways to do it, without having white tiles and grout. The best piece advice I can give you here, is to understand your commitment to cleaning. I am not a fan, so I have learned that it is best for us to have floors that can be swept or vacuumed daily and cleaned with the Bissell Crosswave when needed. As you can see from the picture below, our Coastal Cottage home had lots of light tiles with light grout. They were a nightmare to keep clean, especially for someone like me who prefers to spend my time reading, listening to music, watching my favorite show or just relaxing. We decided to go with Luxury Vinyl Plank flooring for the Coastal Modern home, and it is so much easier to keep clean!

The good news is you can avoid these mistakes and many others by creating a cohesive interior design plan before you buy another thing! There is more to a successfully designed space than simply buying things that match and trying to pull it all together. That rarely works and can either look too matchy-matchy or chaotic. Interior Design advice is very affordable now, for example, I charge $500 per room. You can also read blog posts like the helpful ones I feature on this site or other interior design sites.

What design mistakes have you made in your spaces? Share them in the comments and if you found this post helpful, please like and share it. Be sure to subscribe below to receive future tips and tricks.


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