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Common Interior Design Mistakes (and a few solutions)

Most of us strive to have a beautifully designed and decorated home, and if you're anything like us you're always looking for beautiful pieces of decor to complete your space. It's easy to get swept away by the excitement of finding new decor that you just have to have in your home, only to bring it home and realise you have no idea what to do with it!

The part about interior design that most people struggle with is how to fit the details into the bigger picture. You may have a vision for how you want your space to look like, and endless Pinterest boards of inspiration, but when it comes down to putting it all together it can be difficult to slot all those individual pieces together into the home of your dreams.

Have you ever looked at a space and known that something was just slightly off, but not been able to quite put your finger on what the problem is? Maybe that's something you're struggling with in your own home right now! Sometimes we spend so long looking at the things we like and want to have in our home, that it can be difficult to see the pieces that just aren't working. In this blog post we have gathered some common interior design mistakes that people make when designing their space. Sometimes looking at the things you shouldn't be doing can help you identify exactly what it is about your space that is bothering you.

Not Planning Ahead

Photo property of Styled Spaces, Victoria, BC. In picture: Vanessa Stone, Principal Designer.

This should, ideally, be the first step of any redecorating or remodeling project that you take on in your home, no matter how big or small! Many people fall into the trap of starting to redecorate their home or a room with an idea of the end result they want, but without sitting down and making an actual plan. Regardless of the size and scope of the project, we would very much caution you from skipping this step. We know it's not always the most fun or glamorous part (you just want to get started!), but it is essential and will save you a lot of headaches down the line.

The first thing you should consider is why you want to change up this room. What is it that you don't like about it, or that's not working for you? If you don't take the time to do this, you may just end up making the same mistakes again.

Some things you need to consider in the planning phase:

  • What pieces are you keeping? If there are things you know you want to keep, you need to consider where you want them, and make sure that any new items you get will work with what you already have.

  • What new pieces do you need? Continuing on the previous point, having an idea or even a rough list of items that you need will help you stay on track when shopping and avoid impulsively purchasing something you don't really need.

  • Measure your space. This is especially important if you are getting new furniture! It may seem obvious, but you may be surprised by how many people skip this step.

  • What is your colour scheme? It's easy to get carried away when you see something you love in the store, but if you don't have a plan or colour scheme set out, you may end up with a mess of items that don't look cohesive.

  • What style/feel are you going for? Figuring out what interior design aesthetic you prefer isn't always easy with so much out there to choose from. This is where Pinterest can be useful, spend some time looking through inspiration pictures and see what you are drawn to!

  • What is your budget? Many people start on a project without a clear view of what their budget is, but we always suggest at least having a rough idea. That way you won't go out and spend a lot of money on one or two pieces only to realise you don't have enough room left in the budget for everything else you need.

These are a few of the reasons we always suggest taking the time to make a plan before you start any interior design project. There's a reason interior designers work with floor plans and mood boards and 3D models! While you don't necessarily need to get as in depth as that, having some kind of a plan will help you avoid mistakes and regret while redesigning your home.

Moodboard created by Styled Spaces, Victoria, BC.

If you're already knee deep into redesigning a space in your home, you might look at this and think that it's already too late. We're here to tell you it's not! You can still hit the pause button and sit down to make a plan for your space. If you've already made choices you need to look at these critically to see if they fit into your vision or, if it's too late to change them, how you can work your vision around these in order to create a design you will ultimately be happy with. At this point you may decide you need help from an interior designer, or you might be able to work through it on your own. Either way, pivoting halfway through is far better than getting to the end and realising you've made a mistake.

Not Considering Scale

Getting a sense for scale in relation to interior design can be difficult, and isn't always something that comes naturally to everyone. It's easy to look at something in the store, whether it's a piece of furniture or artwork for your walls, and think that it's far too big for your space! This is one of the reasons the measurements we talked about above are so important. Even with measurements, though, we find that many people are scared of going big. They're scared of filling up a space. While we're not in any way suggesting that bigger is always better (furniture that's too big can also make your space look off), you shouldn't be afraid to play with scale when decorating your home. A few places where people often go wrong with scale is furniture, artwork, and rugs.

It takes time and experience to develop your sense for scale when decorating, but the important thing to keep in mind is to mix it up! Using too many large items and furniture can feel bulky, whereas using too many small pieces can make your space look crowded and messy. Instead try to incorporate furniture and decor of different sizes, shapes and heights to create visual interest and give balance and dimension to the room.

Choosing Wall Colours First

A mistake we see many people make when starting to remodel a room, is to start by choosing a colour for their walls. We get it - decorating your home can feel exciting, and it's natural to want to jump to the fun part and pick out some paint for your walls. What most people don't realise, is that your paint should be one of the last things that you choose!

There are so many options for wall colours, even if you have an idea of what you would like there are many shades and tones to choose from. When you are choosing a sofa for your space there are several factors that need to be just right - the size, shape, style and comfort are all very important. You may find once you've found the piece that hits all of those checkmarks, the choice of upholstery colour may not be as customisable. This can mean you end up with furniture that don't quite match with the paint you've picked out for your walls. We always suggest picking out your furnishings and fabrics before choosing your paint.


The days of getting matching sets for our bedrooms and living rooms are a thing of the past. Having furniture that are too matchy (think of the matching headboard, dresser, bedside tables and wardrobe of your parents and grandparents bedroom growing up) can make your space look outdated and dull. We suggest steering away from the matching furniture sets, and instead going for complementing pieces which have the same general style but are unique from each other.

Every piece you use to decorate your home is one more opportunity to bring your own flare to your space and to build on the feeling that you want the room to convey. If everything looks the same our eyes are more likely to gloss over them and process them as one, and you've lost an opportunity to bring some personality and interest to your space.

Not Matching Kitchen Appliances

There's an exception to every rule, and this is the exception. One aspect where you do want to consider matching is your kitchen appliances. Do they all need to be the exact same brand or product line? Not necessarily, although it does help to create a cohesive look. What we would suggest is making sure they have the same finish, colour, and style. If your large kitchen appliances are mismatched it can look disjointed and messy, like they were all installed at different times, and can cheapen the look of your space.

Not Creating a Focal Point

When you are designing a room, one of the first things you should consider is what the focal point is going to be. Having a focal point, a visually striking detail, can pull the whole space together by drawing the eye and giving it something to focus on. Without it, a room can easily feel bland and generic, and it becomes easy for the eye to simply skim over the room without focusing on or taking in any particular detail.

A focal point will become the centre point which the rest of the room is centred around. It makes your space more interesting and can even help accentuate your other items by providing a kind of resting place for the eye from which it can work its way around the rest of the room. The focal point can be an architectural detail, a large piece of furniture, or a larger striking decor item such as a chandelier or a piece of art. The fireplace tends to become the natural focal point in a living room, for example. Once you know what the focal point in your room is, you can arrange the rest of your furnishings around it.

Design by Styled Spaces, Victoria, BC. Photo by Melanie Orr Photography.

Hiring An Interior Designer Too Late

When should you hire an interior designer? Ideally, right after you've decided you're remodeling your home! We understand that an interior designer is not in everyone's budget, but if you are considering hiring one, you should consider involving them early on in the process. It can become a far costlier mistake if you have already begun making big changes or purchases before you realise you need help. It is never too late though! If you are knee deep in a renovation and realising you're in over your head, an interior designer can help you steer things around and find solutions that you may never have thought of yourself.

One misconception people have with using an interior designer is believing you always need to hire them for your full project. While you may wish to do so to take the stress off of yourself, especially for a larger project, if this doesn't fit into your budget you can absolutely hire one for just a part of your project. They can help you create a plan, give you ideas, and even point you in the direction of places you can shop for what you need. Making use of the services of an interior designer can help you avoid making mistakes which will derail the timeline and budget of your project.

Photo property of Styled Spaces, Victoria, BC. In picture: Vanessa Stone, Principal Designer.

Pinterest boards and blogs can make it seem easy to design a beautiful and functional space that flows and expresses your personal aesthetic. However, when it comes down to the practical part of choosing all the individual pieces and putting them together into a cohesive and thought-out space, many people run into challenges. Sometimes looking at common mistakes can help you pinpoint why your design isn't coming together the way that you had hoped. We hope this list of a few common interior design mistakes has helped you in planning out your next project!


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