7 common interior design mistakes and how to avoid them

We all want to live in a space that feels like home, functions well with our lifestyle and looks beautiful. But on the way to the “perfect” home there are a lot of things that can go wrong. Make sure you know the most common interior design mistakes and how to avoid them.

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7 common interior design mistakes and how to avoid them

Hi, I’m Nadine

Interior design expert, globetrotter and the creative mind behind this blog and NH.DESIGN.

I’m originally from Germany but have been living abroad for over 10 years, from Canada and the UK to Sweden.

So I ask myself the question what “home” means every day.
I have made it my mission to help as many people as possible to find their own answer to this.

Join my creative world on Instagram @nhdotdesign or find out more about me

Mistake 1 - Not having a Mood Board or plan

Most people jump right into a project and start updating things left, right and centre without thinking about the big picture first. And then things like this happen: panicked posts in design FB groups “The painter is coming in 2 hours, what colour should I paint the walls in my entire house?”, photos of half-renovated kitchens with the question “what countertop should I do?” or, even worse, photos of living rooms with sofas that are waaay too big for the space and the comment “I bought this and it’s too big for the space, I can’t return it.”

If you’ve ever been in one (or more) of these pickles you know that they suck, big time. Nobody wants to stress over these kinds of decisions, especially because the (ugly) truth is: they could have easily been avoided! How? By creating a Mood Board, aka having a plan. Put your ideas onto a piece of paper (or do it digitally with a tool like Canva) and create that big picture, that vision of what you want to do with your space. Once you have a Mood Board, every single decision you make in the process goes back to what you envisioned in the beginning.

Learn how to create your own gorgeous Mood Boards with Canva.

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    Mistake 2 - Not testing colours and materials in the actual space

    Another common interior design mistake is to choose paint colours before deciding on furniture or fabrics.

    Because colours are relative.
    Any paint colour you choose will be reflected off furniture, fabrics and other materials in the space. That means it’ll look different than the original sample.
    So to avoid choosing the “wrong” paint colour it makes sense to pick your other main finishes and materials like flooring, large furnishings and textiles first.

    Something people also often do wrong in this stage is not ordering samples and instead relying on online photos or what they see in the store.
    It again comes down to colours being relative and looking completely different in different environments.

    So, pro tip here: always get samples of fabrics, materials, finishes and colours and test them in the space they’re for.

    The White Guide by NH.DESIGN is a helpful resource to choose the right white paint colour.

    The White Guide

    Not every white is the same, and choosing the right one isn’t easy.

    Learn everything about undertones and how to pick the perfect white paint colour for any room in your home with my White Guide.

    Mistake 3 - Copying and pasting other designs 1 to 1

    It seems so easy to just copy and paste things you see in other people’s homes but it’s actually a common mistake.
    Just because something works in one space doesn’t mean it works in another.

    Remember the first 2 mistakes, not having a plan and not testing colours in the actual space?
    If you copy someone else’s interior solutions, materials and colours 1 to 1 there’s no guarantee that a) the solutions will work for you and your needs, and b) the colours and materials will look the same in your space.

    So to avoid this common interior design mistake you should take other designs as an inspiration and as guidance and then adapt them to your space and needs.

    Styling Secrets guide by NH.DESIGN

    Styling Secrets

    Learn how to style any room in your home like a pro with my Styling Secrets guide.

    Mistake 4 - Not budgeting properly

    Imagine having the perfect Mood Board, working out a plan to bring your ideas to life and then realising it would burst your budget. What a bummer!

    But don’t worry, you can easily avoid this common interior design mistake by simply budgeting properly.
    And I say “simply” because it really isn’t rocket science.

    Have a look at your monthly income and expenses and you’ll see how much money you have to spend on your project.
    Now, if it’s a bigger project you might have to save up for a bit to have the budget you need (or want).

    So to avoid this common interior design mistake you should take other designs as an inspiration and as guidance and then adapt them to your space and needs.

    Also do your research on renovation costs per room, and how to budget for them without spending too much.

    Mistake 5 - Having the wrong size of furniture and rugs

    Getting the wrong size furniture or rugs is probably one of the most common and annoying interior design mistakes.

    Not only do you have to spend time returning it and ordering the correct size, sometimes you have to choose completely new pieces if they’re not available in the size you need.

    But how do you know what size furniture or rugs you need for your space?
    Well, first of all you need to measure the room. Then you can start placing furniture and see what size things should be based on your needs.
    You can either check the sizes and proportions the old-school way with tape or paper on the floor, or you can use one of the many online design tools like SketchUp or even the IKEA Home Planner.

    Also read my post about how to choose the right rug size for every room!

    Not sure you’ll be able to do it yourself,
    or simply don’t have the time?

    With my virtual and in-person design services we make your vision a reality, together.

    From design concepts and floor plans to 3D renderings and shopping lists,
    you get everything you need to implement your dream home at your own pace.

    Book a free Discovery Call with me and let’s chat!

    Mistake 6 - Hanging curtains too low

    Another common interior design mistake is not hanging curtains at the right height. Now that doesn’t sound like a big deal, and from a fixability point it’s easy, but visually it has a huge impact.
    Hanging curtains too low, meaning attaching the curtain rod too close to the window, makes the room visually look shorter. The higher you can hang your curtains, the better, ideally all the way to the ceiling.

    Mistake 7 - Not having the right lighting

    Lighting plays a huge role in how a room looks and feels.

    Did you know there are 3 different types of lighting you should have in every single room?
    Yes, there is general lighting, functional lighting and mood lighting.

    All of them work together and create layers that give the room depth and dynamic.

    Also read my complete lighting guide for your home.

    With these design tips it’s easy to avoid common interior design mistakes.

    Thanks for reading!
    If you enjoyed this post, follow along for more interior design tips and inspiration on my Instagram @nhdotdesign and sign up for my Welcome Home Letter.

    Take care, Nadine

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