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An Interior Designer’s Insights: Avoid These 7 Mistakes When Buying Your Next Home


When I purchased my first Victorian in San Francisco, I fell in love with the charm. What I failed to consider? It would be too small once we decided to have a child. Most people would agree that buying a house is one of the largest financial decisions…and the most emotional. It’s easy to get caught up in the potential and make simple but costly mistakes (like purchasing a home that’s too small for your family).

Swapping paint colors and countertops is an easy fix, but there are some mistakes that should never be made when purchasing a home. Read these before calling your realtor…

Mistake #1. Ignoring Natural Lighting 

Unless you’ve descended from vampires, natural light is one of the best assets in your home. It’s a key element in interior design, impacting the mood and aesthetics of a space. My suggestion? Visit your potential home at various times of the day. Pay attention to where the sun rises and sets, how natural light enters each room, and make sure there are enough strategically placed windows.

Adding windows isn’t a quick fix, so understanding these dynamics can definitely enhance your living experience.

Mistake #2. Not Considering Storage Space

I can’t tell you how many people purchase a house or a condo without considering the storage options. They don’t realize until they move in that there is only one small closet and nowhere to keep cleaning supplies. 

What do they do? Hire us.

Pro Tip: It’s much easier to purchase a home with quality cabinets and closets in place rather than finding a solution after purchasing.

coddington-design-bay-area-ca-interior-designer-insights-purchasing-a-home-custom-closet-organization-luxury-interior-designPhotography by David Duncan Livingston

Mistake #3. Moving In Before Replacing Flooring

Flooring is a significant investment and can impact the overall aesthetics of your new home. If you find yourself purchasing a home that needs new flooring, ALWAYS do this before moving in. Why? If you replace your flooring down the road, you’ll have to move all of your furniture off the floor and move out of your home for a while, which can be a logistical nightmare. Trust me.

Mistake #4. Not Measuring Room Sizes 

Staging is absolute wizardry. A stager’s primary job is to make sure the house looks roomy and big. Learning from my past mistakes, I always recommend bringing a tape measure along to home showings. If you forget yours, don’t worry. The trick is to check if the sofa has 3 cushions (not a love seat), ensure the beds are king-size, and confirm the dining table can comfortably fit at least 6 people. These details make a difference.

coddington-design-marin-ca-interior-designer-insights-puchasing-a-home-transitional-dining-room-sculptural-lighting-california-modern-luxury-interior-designPhotography by Vivian Johnson

Mistake #5. Overlooking Your Lifestyle 

New home, new you? Probably not. It’s important to purchase a house that aligns with your current lifestyle, not the one you hope to have in the future. For example, the sleek kitchen with tons of open shelving — sounds minimalistic. But ask yourself, will you actually keep that neat and tidy, or would you be better off containing your mess behind closed cabinets? 

Remember, your home should cater to your everyday needs and habits, not just your aspirations.

Mistake #6. Neglecting Quality of Materials 

Two things we are always aware of are high-quality appliances and window treatments. These elements can greatly impact the appeal (and future investment) of a home. Have the kitchen appliances been recently upgraded, and do they work properly? Are the curtains functional, or are they purely decorative?

We love custom window treatments, but they cost thousands per window, which can add up when doing an entire house. Bonus points if the previous owners have already made the investment.

coddington-design-marin-county-ca-interior-designer-insights-purchasing-a-home-california-modern-living-room-custom-furnishings-modern-art-luxury-interior-designPhotography by David Duncan Livingston

Mistake #7. Striving for Perfection 

Unless you’re building your dream home from scratch, finding a property that ticks every single box on your wishlist is unlikely. Be prepared to compromise in a few areas. As an Interior Designer, I always consider the architectural style, the setting of the home, and your personal style.

If I were buying a home today, I’d prioritize high ceilings, tall door frames, and tons of natural light. Me being me, I’d make sure there is an opportunity to enhance the home, whether by adding square footage or updating the kitchen and bathrooms. Don’t be afraid of a renovation project. It’s okay (and normal!) to take your time making your home feel like you.

Finding Your Home

The home-buying journey can be nerve-wracking, but by steering clear of these mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to securing a home that you actually want to live in. And when you finally find that perfect place to call your own, we’re here to help turn it into the personal sanctuary you’ve always envisioned.



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