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7 Common Design Mistakes Hiding in Your Home

Have you ever scrolled through Zillow listings and thought, “Wow, what were they thinking there?” Me, too. But today, I don’t want to talk about the obvious design mistakes. (Things like clashing colors, dated decor, busy patterns, or clutter.) I want to talk about the design mistakes that are hiding in plain sight. 

These are the design mistakes we see almost everyone making, and they’re not all aesthetic. Some do relate to style, but others relate to the ever-important maintenance and upkeep required of a family home. Once you amend them (if you find them), I guarantee you’ll experience a more functional, welcoming space.

1. Furnishings that Don’t Pull Their Weight

That cheap sofa may be a thrilling find, but trust me, you’ll get exactly what you paid for. To avoid saggy seats, fraying fabrics, and broken frames, invest in high-quality furnishings that will withstand the wear and tear of daily life. (Yes, even if you have kids.) In the end, you’ll find that you’ll be rewarded with saved time and money.

This is true of lighting, too. Many expensive chandeliers are more like “light sculptures” in that they are pretty to look at but don’t give off much light. That’s not destined to last. Instead, beauty and functionality must go hand-in-hand if you want longevity. (Check out our list of pendants, sconces, & chandeliers here.)

2. Matchy-Matchy Metals

This is a hard one for a lot of people, mainly because it feels like you should have a home that matches, but a home that matches too much will also look strange. This is especially true of metal finishes. Why? Because finding that perfect match is next to impossible. For example, aged brass from Shop A will not look the same as aged brass from Shop B. There’s too much variation. What should you do instead?

Instead, consider mixing metals. For instance, choose aged brass from Shop A, bronze from Shop B, and shake it up with a polished nickel option from Shop C. This approach results in a purposeful design that looks highly custom and balanced. You won’t regret it.

3. Rugs that Aren’t Scaled Properly

Ah, the age-old debate! Should your furniture be entirely on or off the rug? Do just the front legs count? Experience has told us that a too-large rug can create a disconnected and unfinished vibe, while a too-large rug can feel cramped and cluttered. The sweet spot? 

An appropriately sized rug should allow all legs of the furniture to be on the edge of the rug. Or, the back legs could be slightly off the edge of the rug. Need help selecting a great rug? We’ve got all the tips and tricks here.

4. Textured Knobs for Tiny Humans

Intricately textured knobs are beautiful. However, unless you love specks of purple Play-Doh ensconced in those tiny grooves forever, skip the texture. Instead, opt for a smooth knob that won’t trap dirt, food, or other sticky mystery materials. 

If there is a must-have textured knob that you just can’t live without, strategically place it on scarcely-used furnishings that are out of reach from little hands. For example, the beautiful knob on the above-left is perfect for a rarely used space, while the smooth and equally beautiful knob (above-right) is excellent for everyday use. You’ll thank us for that one later.

5. Rugs without Waterproof Rug Pads

You may have never known this existed…but waterproof rug pads are a must. Let’s face it, this is real life, not Pinterest perfection. Spills are bound to happen, whether it’s wine night or freshly pressed green juice. You may have a great area rug, but liquid can seep right through to your floor and into your subflooring. Yes, even if you have waterproof vinyl planks. Not fun.

Instead, waterproof rug pads are like an insurance policy for your gorgeous floors. If you have a high-traffic space and kids, we also suggest an indoor/outdoor rug on top of that waterproof pad. It’s easy to clean, mildew resistant, and affordable enough to replace every few years.

6. High-Maintenance Paint Finishes

Ever had a spontaneous, colorful crayon mural mysteriously pop up on your walls? Unfortunately, matte and high-gloss paint finishes will only magnify those imperfections…er, I mean “art.” Which makes clean-up much more difficult. And what parent wants that?

Now, don’t get me wrong, we love a glossy glam finish over here, like the one we used in our San Francisco Style project. But if you have high-traffic areas or kids who roam your home like a herd of elephants, we recommend a durable and low-maintenance satin finish.

7. Dirty and Worn Upholstery

Speaking of maintenance… Is your sofa and carpeting well-loved? Maybe you have an artistic toddler or a dog that loves to snuggle with you, and it shows. If you have been putting off hiring professional cleaners, let me tell you a story.

Our Creative Director, Dana, came home to her little artist expressing herself on the living room ottoman. She quickly discovered that professional cleaning isn’t as expensive as you might think. It costs around $250 to clean a large sectional and approximately 800 square feet of carpet. And in her words, “it’s worth every penny!”

Which of these struck a chord with you? Any? If so, you’re in great company. We’ve all been guilty of these common design mistakes, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Follow these tips or your home transformation a step further with our Online Interior Design Service

We can’t wait to help you lead your home design project and create a comfortable haven for your entire family. You’ve got this.




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