Interior decorating is just one of those things: either you get it or you don’t. When you walk into your friendly neighborhood power-mom’s house and everything is perfectly clean, elegantly arranged and carefully planned for optimal aesthetics? She gets it. When you go back to your own house and notice the clothes everywhere and the Froot Loops crushed into the carpet… Well, sometimes, sh*t happens.
Not everyone has the time, energy or know-how to be a total decorating goddess and when you don’t have time to fix it, you’ve just gotta own it. Who could have imagined that your couch would look such a pretty green color in the showroom and like mushed peas when you dragged it home? And that tacky, dated wallpaper in the bathroom might be kind of hideous… but who has the time to rip it out? Here are twenty decor fails that even the pros have made at one point or another.
20. Getting way too into a particular theme
Remember when you decided that your bedroom needed a little more oriental flair, or your entire kitchen plan needed to revolve around roosters? When you know what you like, you know what you like… but sometimes, it’s easy to get carried away with a theme. So before your den starts to look like a nautical nightmare or you realize that you have enough inspirational wall hangings around the house to create a complete book of calm with, remember everything you’ve ever heard about less being more.
A great themed décor gives off a gentle vibe, not a slap in the face. Choose your accent elements carefully and don’t be afraid to mix themes! An oriental themed room will benefit more from a pretty bonsai tree or an orchid than it will geisha paintings and chopsticks.
19. Letting those ugly utility boxes hang out
Nobody has time to fix every potentially ugly facet of their home, and those utility boxes are definitely at the top of our NOPE list. Covering them up can actually be so easy… but that doesn’t mean that we’re about to go and do it any time soon. It’s such a little thing, it almost seems like an unnecessary amount of work!
Bare utility boxes make a home look industrial and harsh, not pleasant and homey like you’ve always imagined. A simple screen is the best go-to solution for hiding these ugly little bits and pieces away (if you can be fussed to pick one up).
18. Trying to make the toilet pretty
Maybe it’s coordinating that weird rug thing that goes over the toilet lid with the rest of the bathroom, or placing a pretty picture of a lighthouse on top of the tank… but when flush comes to shove, a toilet is a toilet, and most interior decorators will tell you to just let it be.
Your grandmother’s bathrooms might be awash with lacy draperies and fancy ornaments, but a solid bathroom décor remembers that the bathroom is about utility, not frills. Strip the décor out of your bathroom right now, bring back only the absolute essentials and one or two accent pieces, and you’ll be rocking a more sophisticated look in no time.
The best thing about a minimalist bathroom is that it looks clean—which will make you feel more comfortable while you’re doing your business and your guests feel like they’re in a safe, sanitary place.
17. Knick-knack attack
Even the most gorgeously decorated homes can be guilty of this (especially during the holidays). It’s hard to help it when there are so many cute accent decorations to buy… but inevitably, shelf space reaches critical mass and enough is enough.
Starting a collection can be so rewarding, it’s sometimes hard to avoid picking up that new Precious Moments figurine or indulging in your nostalgia for the Beanie Babies craze. But exercising a little restraint when it comes to knick-knacks can mean big rewards. Keeping your knick-knacks to a minimum means less dusting and moving things around when you clean! If you’re itching to start a collection, consider something classic that’s not so easily dated, like books, art or carefully selected statement pieces, instead.
16. Under-decorating for special occasions
Does anyone out there have the time to go all-out on decorating for birthdays and graduation parties? Because we sure don’t. Throw a few streamers up, maybe a balloon or two… aaaaand yep, that’s it, we’re calling it good.
Decorating for parties, holidays and special evenings isn’t just a thing of the past—aesthetic queens like Lauren Conrad have proven that much. Fearlessly delve into your Pinterest boards and rip off some special DIY decor projects to really set your party apart from any other shindig. Just remember to use your good taste, because the line between too much and just enough is a pretty thin one, and the only thing more embarrassing than under-decorating is over-decorating.
They’re not pretty and they break easily, but man, they get the job done. So what if they’re a decorating faux pas? If they keep the sun out of your eyes in the morning, it’s good enough for us! But in the decorating world, mini-blinds are a nuisance that need to be eradicated. The biggest problem with these blinds is that they gather dust like no other, which makes cleaning them a nightmare. A good home décor is simple to clean—because a clean home is better than a skillfully decorated home every time, hands down.
Consider ditching your mini-blinds in favor of a thick, opaque curtain you can pull closed (you can always layer a sheer curtain over top of it if you want to let some light in. If you can’t live without your blinds, invest in some strong, sturdy ones—bamboo blinds can work wonders and withstand a good hosing down.
14. Leaving the Christmas tree up for too long
Hey, putting that thing up took ages. It’s staying there until we’re totally ready to take it down again. Putting up the Christmas tree can be such an ordeal, especially if you’re working with more ornaments than you know what to do with, that when the post-holiday exhaustion sets in, taking it down again is the last thing on our minds. After all of the baking, the shopping, the gift-giving and the eating, we usually only feel like sitting down with one last cup of eggnog and digesting that Christmas ham in our new bathrobes once the holidays come to a close.
Unfortunately, this means we’ve got to excuse ourselves to guests (or just totally avoid them altogether) when it comes to socializing after the holidays. On one hand, this can be kind of nice (the holidays can leave you properly socially exhausted), but on the other, it’s a good idea to reclaim that part of your living room as soon as possible before you just have to accept that it’s staying up until next Christmas, too.
13. Massive amounts of framed pictures
You’d think that now that we can display all of our family pics on Facebook, we would’ve done away with all those framed images… but nooooooope. If anything, we’ve got more than ever. The solution: a classy, carefully planned photo wall… if you’ve got the energy for it, anyway.
Pick your absolute favorite family photos—sticking to the most recent ones of you and yours if you can—and display them in coordinated frames clustered on a wall. The occasional standing frame can look lovely on its own, but when you start grouping them together en masse, you’re not just creating clutter—you’re creating a cleaning nightmare for yourself.
12. Ugly, tangled power cord hell
It seems like so many things need to plugged in these days, it’s impossible to keep them all straight! Pinterest might have a billion and one ways to keep these things neat, but we know the truth: they’re always going to end up a tangled mess, one way or another.
Before you give up on this aspect of a room entirely, consider: those tangled up TV cords might not be going anywhere, but is there a way to hide them out of sight? Especially if you have some sockets that are full-up without much need for plugging and unplugging, consider stashing them behind a bigger piece of furniture where they can remain comfortably unseen.
11. Sticky, uncomfy couches
If you haven’t been tempted by a sexy leather sofa in your lifetime, don’t worry—your day will come. Until then, just know: the best-looking couches are always the most uncomfortable to sit on. Always. Without fail.
Leather ordeals will leave you peeling your thighs off of it all summer and shivering beneath blankets on it in the winter, and if you’ve gone the other route and purchased something so fluffy you could die, chances are it will be worn out and deflated in about six months or so. When it comes to living room sofas, a solid investment is sturdy fabric and cushions that start out being just a little bit too firm—these are the kinds of couches that you have to break in, but they’ll last.
10. That weird toilet rug
This is such a universally bad decorating idea that practically everyone is or has been guilty of at one time or another, and it absolutely deserves its own entry. Not to channel Jerry Seinfeld or anything, but what is up with these toilet covers? They don’t really serve much of a purpose unless you’re accustomed to sitting nude on your toilet lid on a regular basis and don’t want to get a cold tush… but then that raises the question: what the heck is everyone doing hanging out naked on their toilets?
Decorators have been swearing against these wrap-around rugs for years… but that hasn’t stopped anyone. Bonus points if yours has a weird picture or pattern to it! The worst thing about these rugs is that it’s easy to forget to wash them, and that carpety fabric needs to be washed pretty regularly to keep it free of nasty bathroom germs. Do yourself a favor and just ditch it. If you’re afraid of your butt getting cold, put on some pants!
9. Ugly, rusty appliances
Rusty old stoves and dishwashers might be a decorator’s worst nightmare, but it’s expensive to replace them if they’re still working! On the bright side, doing a little bit of a cover-up job never hurt anyone.
Metallic sheeting and some heavy-duty double-stick tape can work wonders when it comes to updating an old or rusted out appliance until you can save up for a new one. This will keep your kitchen looking updated and fresh—rather than like a scene out of a horror movie about cannibal hillbillies with chainsaws and meat hooks.
8. Having too much stuff
Especially if you’ve ever had a tiny apartment, you don’t realize how much sh*t you own until it’s all crammed into an itty bitty living room… and no matter how many storage solutions you burn through, it’s never enough to make that mess look clean. Your options, short of moving into a bigger place, are as follows: live in what’s progressively looking more and more like something that might show up on that Hoarders show, or start minimalizing.
Most of us have too many things period—we just don’t realize it until we absolutely have to start downsizing. Some organizers swear by finding one item to sell, donate or throw out every day until your hoard is more managable. Others will tell you to start chucking it all out because there’s no way that you need all that stuff anyway. But at the same time… you never know when you’re going to need that plastic grocery bag filled with all those other plastic grocery bags…
7. Making bad impulse buys at the thrift store
When things are so freaking cheap, it’s hard not to buy them all up! That lamp shaped like a leg? Need it. That furry orange rug? Gotta have it! It’s not until you get home that you realize, “Oh, God, what have I done?”
In the Hipster Era, it’s easy to get sucked in when you go thrift shopping. Cheap and quirky have been done right by many a mustachioed dude in a bow tie and blue-haired girl in a sundress, but unfortunately when push comes to shove, cheap and quirky don’t work for most people. Remember that the next time you go out only to come home with a clock shaped like Ronald Regan’s face and a Space Jam teapot, ladies!
6. Sticking too closely to your color scheme
When you found that perfect color of crimson or exquisite royal blue, you thought you were in heaven… and then, the nightmare sets in: maybe you shouldn’t have bought everything in that color? Uh, oops…
Believe it or not, there’s totally such a thing as too matchy-matchy. A living space that makes solid use of complimentary neutral tones is often more comfortable than one that’s rocking a carefully planned color palette, because the former looks relaxed and chill while the latter can look like you might attack anyone who walks into your living room wearing the wrong colored jacket with a serving knife.
5. Relying too much on one type of flooring
There’s something totally comforting about carpet, and something really elegant about wood floors, but too much of one or the other will leave you either wishing for mahogany or freezing your toes off. Mix and match, people, mix and match!
You’ll love the cozy, carpeted feel of the living room when you’re not wearing socks on a cold day, while all that hardwood in the dining room will make cleanup a cinch when a plate of food inevitably hits the floor. If you don’t have the chance to renovate, never fear—area rugs are an excellent solution for making cold floors seem homey again.
4. Relying too much on one type of lighting
There are some things that you only realize are problems when you go to take a cute selfie, and lighting is one of them. Rock the floor lamps, the overheads, the table lamps and more if you really want to get the best lighting, no matter what time of day it is. You’ll reduce eyestrain, avoid that doom-and-gloom sense of darkness that can take hold of a poorly lit home on a cloudy day, and best of all? Your selfies will always be on point.
Generating light from a lot of different sources helps soften shadows on your face, so you’ll actually look younger, healthier and more revitalized… as long as you never have to leave your own home ever again. Hello, Netflix—staying inside can now be a beauty decision.
3. Finally moving into that big, open space of your dreams…
…and realizing that for once in your life, you don’t have enough stuff. Whoops. Time to head to the thrift store again…
But in all seriousness, upsizing your space can leave you wanting for things to fill it with. Of course, for some people, this isn’t so much a problem as it is an opportunity, but if you’re not a shopping fiend, use this time to carefully consider how you want to orchestrate your space. A blank canvas like an empty apartment is great to work with if you have an ideal vision in mind for your home. You’ll be able to buy your décor pieces one by one and ensure that they all go with your sense of style (and if not, you’ll be able to edit quickly and run it back to the store for a refund).
2. Poorly researched houseplant choices
That beautiful ficus or glamorous orchid might have looked pretty for a week or so… but now it’s dead and its blood is on your hands. They can brighten up any room and instantly add that comforting, homey factor to an apartment, but dammit, why are house plants so hard to manage?!
Here are the protips: if you’re a forgetful type, you want succulents, which will survive and flourish despite your neglectful nature. Are you a compulsive over-waterer who prefers to baby everything in the hopes that it will grow big and strong and learn to love you? Either cool it with your watering can or set up some kind of drainage system, because your plants are going to drown in your love if you don’t.
1. Letting Pinterest get the best of you
We all know that Pinterest itch. You see an awesome project that fashions lampshades out of used Mountain Dew bottles (or something else impressively ingenius). In the picture, it looks amazing. The instructions look easy. The results are supposed to be incredible, and everyone you know is repinning that sh*t like they’re being paid to.
But then, reality sets in. You get your supplies. You do the thing. And then you realize it must have been magic when you compare it to the small abombination you’ve just brought into the world.
Pinterest is the place where dreams are made and broken. There’s something about those carefully organized images that makes you feel like yeah, you really can make a gorgeous high-fashion Christmas wreath out of broken candy cane pieces and toilet rolls… until you’re sobbing on your kitchen floor, surrounded by craft supplies and halfway through your second bottle of wine. Damn you, Pinterest! You’ve bested us again!