5 Most Common Design Mistakes & What Designers Do Differently

What’s the difference between a professionally designed home and one you pull together yourself? Well, I can’t speak for you specifically (because y’all know I have the best readers), but I can share what I’ve seen in clients’ homes. 

When clients call me out for design help, there has usually been some previous attempt at renovating or decorating that didn’t go as planned. And that’s okay. You can’t be expected to decorate or design your kitchen or living room like the pros do. It’s hard work.

But, once I step foot inside, I can pretty quickly identify a few places where they went astray. Over the years, I’ve narrowed it down to the 5 biggest areas for error, along with the #1 reason that designers don’t make this mistake. Any of these sound familiar…?


What’s behind those walls?

The 5 most common design mistakes I see in homes

#1. The scale of the furnishings is wrong.

We see lighting in the wrong scale ALL. the. time. In most cases, fixtures are too small. We often see furnishings in the wrong scale, too. Sofas either crowd the space or look tiny in the room. Rugs are often too small, as well. (If you pull out your dining chair and snag the edge of the rug on your way back in, it’s too small.) These are all easy mistakes to make without some guidance.

#2. Nothing looks connected or related to each other.

Most homes that we see look piecemeal instead of cohesive. This is likely because they were assembled piecemeal as the homeowner found pieces they liked, were gifted items, or received furniture that was passed down. Although technically these items are “collected,” when they aren’t intentionally assembled, it can make the home look disjointed.

#3. Color stories are not cohesive.

Color is very difficult to get right without experience. We see colors that compete (when their undertones clash, clean vs. dirty), fabrics in the wrong hues, or so many colors in one space that there isn’t really a palette at all. If you’re struggling with color, you can reference my step-by-step advice for selecting color here.

#4. The space plan doesn’t support daily function.

Sofas that block the flow of foot traffic. Too many furnishings in a space. No flow from one room to another. Our homes should support our daily routines, but in many cases, we see homes that actually hinder a functional routine. Not intentionally, of course. It just happens.

#5. There are purchases that are regrets.

Granted, we always ask our clients what they don’t like about their current spaces, but it never fails that they point out purchases that were regrets. It’s usually a regret for one of the reasons above, but it can also come down to the quality of the piece not being up to par, or being uncomfortable after a year of use. These are aspects that are difficult to determine in advance without an expert or experience.

And that makes 5. None of these mistakes are anyone’s fault. These are the most common mistakes because they are so darn easy to make! So… why aren’t designers making these mistakes? Is it purely training? Experience? What’s our secret sauce?


Beauty lies inside these walls!

Why don’t designers make these mistakes?

I would love to tell you that I have a secret sauce no other designer has, but I don’t think that’s true. Yes, we serve our clients better than anyone around Wilson County, but when it comes to the actual design, there are plenty of talented designers out there. How do we all avoid the above mistakes?


That’s right. The difference between a professionally designed home and one you create yourself is all of the planning that goes into it. We can spend weeks to months (depending on scope) defining every little detail in your home. Every wall and built-in going up. Every piece of furniture and fabric. All the colors and items that will go into your home. Everything.

We also measure everything — twice. We create renderings/drawings, CAD files (the design software we use in-house), mood boards, and pricing plans. You get fabric and materials samples to approve in advance. We essentially create your whole space or home before any concrete action is taken.

That is how we create a space that looks beautiful and intentional, functions for your daily routine, and fits your budget, all while avoiding expensive mistakes.

Of course, I know I’m leaving out the many other layers to this process… Yes, we have extensive experience and industry knowledge that allow us to make the right decisions. Yes, we know which products are comfortable and durable over time and how to work with color and materials.

But the real key strategy is planning. When you have a plan, everything looks intentional. Even if you can’t create it all at once, when all the phases are complete, it will be cohesive, functional, timeless, and customized to you. That’s great design.


What happens after a design is planned?

The next step for us includes placing orders and procuring your furnishings. We typically do this as soon as you have approved the design plan, as it can take a lot of time and energy (especially right now with everything on backorder for months). Patience will be required… myself included. 😉

If you’re not working with us, but you do have a solid design plan, there is no reason you can’t assemble your home yourself. As long as you stick to the plan and don’t let uninvited pieces take up residence, I am confident you can achieve great results. 

P.S. If y’all are looking for fresh yet timeless pieces for your home, be sure to check out some of my favorite picks in my Amazon store

Any questions? Need help with a design plan you love and trust? Let’s talk.


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