After watching dozens of DIY and home makeover TV shows like Fixer Upper on HGTV, you might feel like you have practically become an interior designer by proxy. However, a lot of people are sadly mistaken, and their own projects end up being a disaster. Before you dive head-first into a home makeover, make sure you read these 30 most common mistakes. It could save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in the long run.
30. Trying To Accomplish Everything By Yourself
It’s great to be an independently-minded woman or man. (Go you!) However, it is a huge mistake to think that one person can do 100% of the work on a home remodel. No matter how many YouTube tutorials you watch, that will not make up for the fact that some projects need two or more people to get it done.
There will also be projects (like electrical work, roofing, and plumbing) where if you get something wrong, it could mean seriously risking your personal health and safety. In fact, many people have to go to school or work through apprenticeships in order to learn various areas of construction. Please hire professionals when it comes to these heavy-duty projects.
29. Comparing Your Home to Others on Instagram
There is a phrase “comparison is the thief of joy”. Instagram doesn’t just make you feel bad about your appearance when you look at photos of supermodels. You will also feel terrible if you compare your home to other people’s houses, as well. Try to remind yourself that it doesn’t matter if your house doesn’t look like it belongs in a magazine, even after the DIY project is over. What matters is that you made an effort to make your home more comfortable.
28. Losing Your Personality In the Design
Minimalism has become popular again in recent years, so you may feel tempted to have a very sparse space. However, if you take it too far, living in a bare home can feel very cold and impersonal. If you are trying to get comfortable, a minimalist room might begin to feel like you’re living in a stranger’s house. So remember to incorporate your personal items, photographs, artwork, and things that represent “home” to you.
27. Buying Matchy-Matchy Furniture
Every furniture store will push you to buy the complete matching set, as if that makes it more valuable somehow. However, just look at the room in the image above. It’s an empty room with nothing but this matching furniture set from the store. Does this really look as good as something you would see on HGTV? Not. Of course not. There is no interior design skill or personalization in this room at all. Remember that it has more to do with the design, and not the money you dump into it.
26. Attempting to do ALL THE THINGS.
Giving a house a makeover is a very time-consuming process. There is so much to do, that you might feel tempted to overlap multiple projects at once. This is just asking for trouble. It is best to give yourself one or two tasks per weekend. If you get them both done, you will feel awesome, and want to keep going. But if you make your expectations too high, you will only end up disappointed and discouraged. After a while, your ability to multi-task will improve, but be patient with yourself in the beginning.
25. Following All of the Newest Trends
Remember that trends do not last forever. Just because certain patterns or colors are popular this year doesn’t mean it will look good next year. Think about all of those trendy spaces from the 1970’s with wood paneling on the wall and colorful carpets. Maybe that was popular back then, but today, that looks dated and downright gross. Instead of following trends, try to pick a style that you will be happy with for years.
24. Never Taking Measurements
One of the most common mistakes people make when buying furniture, cabinets, or anything else is forgetting to measure the room. In some cases, furniture can’t even fit through the front door, or the entryway to the room. Unfortunately, you may have to say “no” to the items you really want, but it is far better to prevent yourself from wasting money and time.
23. Forgetting About Your Home’s History
A lot of people make the mistake of trying to gut a home and completely modernize the inside without taking the history of the house into account. This can potentially damage its retail value. For example, if your exterior is a beautiful Victorian home, it becomes confusing to walk inside and see a Rustic Farmhouse style a-la-Fixer Upper.
No matter what era your home was built in, it can still look beautiful without forcing a completely foreign style on it. In this example, it would be much better to search on Google or Pinterest: “Victorian House Remodel” and take your style inspiration from that, instead of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
22. Prioritizing the Paint Colors Over Everything Else
People often go browsing in the paint section and fall in love with a certain color. They are dead-set on getting the paint without even thinking about how it will look with the flooring, furniture, or accessories.
Remember- this is like what children do when they get a new bedroom. When I first got my own bedroom at 7 years old, I wanted a pink carpet and pink walls. Sure, maybe it was okay for a 7-year old, but as I got older, it just looked like pepto bismol.
21. Choosing Design Over Function
We may fall in love with something, but once it comes to actually installing it in our home, it doesn’t make sense, and it’s not very functional or realistic.
Not sure what I mean? Okay. Imagine a man who absolutely insists on having a “man cave”. So he tries to jam a full-size pool table into a teeny tiny basement. His friends have to wedge their way in-between the walls to walk around the table, and it’s not even comfortable or enjoyable to play. It would make so much more sense to have a pin ball machine instead. Same goes with trying to jam a king-sized bed into a tiny bedroom, or anything else that is going to lower your quality of life, just because you are stubborn about having it.
20. Buying The Wrong Area Rug
Before you buy an area rug, make sure you measure the space you need to cover. It’s good to let some of the hardwood floor peek through, but if you have a rug that is way too small for a certain area, it feels almost silly or pointless for it to be there at all.
19. Rushing Into a Project Too Quickly
Far too many people try to rush into building or fixing something without reading the instructions, watching YouTube tutorials, or calling a friend for help. Then, they end up breaking something, or wasting hours of their time. So, make sure you actually know what you’re doing first.
18. Failing to Make a Game Plan
Before remodeling an entire house, you really should write out a game plan. This consists of a budget, timeline, and list of items you need in each room. How many people are you going to hire, and when? Once you have all of your ducks in a row, it is much easier to feel calm about the process. This will also help you and your partner communicate together, once everything is black and white. It’s like having a road map instead of trying to navigate a new place totally blind.
17. Buying Mirrors That Are Too Small
When it comes to mirrors, it’s almost impossible for them to be too big. So, when in doubt, go for a bigger mirror, because if it’s too small, it looks really awkward. Look at the image above. Is anyone actually using that mirror?
16. Never Using Symmetry in Design
All rooms- especially bedrooms- need a sense of symmetry. Our brains automatically love seeing symmetry. It is just so dang satisfying! The easiest way to accomplish this is by having matching bedside tables on either side of the bed. Try to take a look around your home and ask yourself if you can move furniture to have even spaces on either side, or anything else to give it better cohesion.
15. Giving Up on a Project Halfway Through
Some people get frustrated during a home renovation and walk away…Even if it means leaving an incredibly unattractive hole, unfinished paint, or exposed wires. If you are feeling frustrated, it’s okay to take a break. But you really need to get back on that horse as soon as possible. Remember going into the journey that you will run into problems, no matter who you are. Just try to handle your issues gracefully, and keep going.
14. Being Afraid of Mixing Patterns
Similar to over-matching furniture, some people think that they can only use one color or fabric pattern over and over again in a room. In reality, this can often look kind of matronly and unattractive. Try to pick a similar color story that connects your objects, but mix various patterns.
13. Buying Gallons of Paint Without Painting Swatches First
We already mentioned picking a paint color too early. Let’s assume you have really thought this through, and now you know what your paint color should be. That’s great…But did you swatch it first? Most stores will allow you to buy a small can of paint with a sample of the color you want. You should paint small sections on the wall, and let it dry. This way, you can see it in the room, instead of trying to visualize it in your mind.
12. Purchasing Furniture That is Too Large For the Room
Sometimes, we can get way too carried away, and buy furniture that is too big. This is most common witch couches and king-sized beds. Always remember to measure a room, and be sure that people still have enough walking space to maneuver around the area.
11. Try to Copy a Room From a Catalogue or Photograph
When you walk through IKEA, you have probably had it cross your mind at least once that maybe you should just buy all of the same exact items from the display, and try to re-create it in your own home. While it’s fine to take inspiration from pictures, that often does not translate perfectly.
After all, your room is probably different dimensions from the display model. It is much better to just work with the space you have, and start from there, instead of trying to cram in a carbon-copy of someone else’s design.
10. Buying the Wrong Light Fixtures
Sometimes, people can get really carried away with light fixtures. Unfortunately, a lot can go wrong, here. If you have really low ceilings, you should not have light fixtures that are massive and take up a ton of space. Some people also forget to measure a chandelier, and people end up hitting their head. And those pendulum bedside lights look really cute in theory, until someone smashes a glass getting out of bed.
9. Hanging the Wrong Curtains
When you are buying curtains, make sure they actually suit your needs. For example, white flowing curtains might look beautiful, but they do not block out and sunlight. And if you have a room that is already dark, sun-blocking shades will only make it more dreary and depressing.
8. Failing to Create Open Entryways to Each Room
Each and every room of your house should have an entryway that is clear of clutter, and gives a fully open view to your space. Ideally, you want your guest to walk into a room and say “wow”. They can’t do that if you have furniture blocking their way.
7. Not Thinking About a Themed Color
One of the most common problems during a DIY design is that people forget choose a color palate before designing a room. This is because they are often trying to buy whatever cheap things they can afford, blended with objects left over from their own home. Try to create a “color story” of two to three main colors that are carried out throughout the room. For example, in the photo above, the two main colors carried throughout the space are green and beige.
6. Underestimating the Time a Project Will Take
Far too many people fall into the trap of under-budgeting for time when they are doing a home renovation. This can only add to stress, strained relationships, and more. Always assume that something will go wrong. Take whatever amount of time you anticipate to do any project, and double it.
5. Caring Too Much About Small Items
When you think about remodeling a home, moving into a new apartment, or anything along those lines, you might feel tempted to collect a few items here and there. Small items are cheap and easy to come by. However, if you want to make a house look stylish, too many small things end up looking cluttered.
Instead of buying as ton of knick knacks, try to resist the temptation, and save up that money for a great piece of furniture, art, or anything else that will actually add style to your home.
4. Installing Carpeting
Some people love carpeting because it is soft under their feet. Unfortunately, there is just something about wall-to-wall carpeting that looks cheap or tacky. Hardwood is much more appealing. If you can, try to only have carpeting in your bedroom, basement, or space where you feel that it is truly necessary.
3. Going Overboard With a Theme
Some people think that a room needs a theme. (This is especially common in baby nurseries and children’s bedrooms.) So they will go to a store and buy every single item in that theme. This is not really designing a space. It’s just finding a common theme, throwing it together, and hoping it works. In most cases, even if you do have a theme in mind, it should be more subtle if you want it to be stylish.
For example, let’s say you want a nautical themed bedroom. All you really need is shiplap walls, an anchor throw pillow, and a piece of ocean-themed art…Not a million and one sailboats on a bookshelf.
2. Forgetting to Make a Room Layout
Before you do anything for a house remodel, it is a good idea to measure and draw out the room on a piece of paper. You don’t have to be an artist to make this happen. Even just a good old fashioned ruler and pencil can help you make the straight lines. Add the dimensions of the furniture you plan to add to the room. You can trace the original room and re-arrange objects to make things easy for you.
If you want to create a digital version of a room layout, check out SketchUp.
1. Thinking a Ceiling Must Always be White
In most houses, ceilings a white. Yes, this is standard, but sometimes, having a colorful ceiling can be beautiful. The most popular color to paint a ceiling is blue. (Maybe because it looks like the sky?) Check out some photos on Pinterest for inspiration.
Shannon Quinn is the editor-in-chief of InspiringHome.org. She has written for multiple personal finance publications such as MoneyWise, Yahoo Finance, and The Penny Hoarder. She has also written for several YouTube channels; Biographics, Geographics, and TopTenz. You can find her full portfolio at ShannQuinn.com.