For some of us (like me) decorating our home sounds like a blast and we cant wait to dive in head first and get started. For others, however, it can be a daunting task with a lot of head scratching and asking “where should I start?” No matter where you fall on that excitement scale, you should be ware of the 5 most common mistakes that people make when decorating their home. I see these mistakes made all the time… in fact a huge part of my career is based on clients wanting my help to AVOID making these mistakes…… so maybe I shouldn’t be sharing this with you. Hmm…

1. Come up with a plan FIRST before you get started.- This should seem like a no brainer but often times we just want to wing it as we go when it comes to decorating our home. I understand that most of us can’t afford to buy all new furniture at once (see #2 & 4) and we have to do things a little at a time “as we go,” but that shouldn’t excuse us from having a game plan to start out with.

Sarah Barksdale Design


My advice is to dig through magazines, Pinterest, coffee table books, or any other resource you have for finding great interiors and flag the pictures that you like. Then use those inspiration images as a resource for making your plan. What do the pictures have in common? (type of furniture? colors? modern style? traditional style? etc.) If there are specific details that you love, like backsplash tile pattern or a four poster bed, then try to duplicate those. create a mood board, or make a list of items you want for each room and then you can start putting the room together little by little.

2. Wait and save for what you really want. Patience pays off. – I heard a quote once that explained this concept brilliantly:

“Spend your money once really well rather than three times poorly”

Sarah Barksdale Design

We all get in a hurry for things to perfect and sometimes this causes us to compromise and get an item that really isn’t what we want or need. Be patient with your home design… it will be so worth it in the long run. Maybe you need to do without a coffee table for a while and save up for that perfect, beautiful gold-leaf-with-antique-mirror-top one that you have been dreaming of since 2001. Ok, that might be an exaggeration, but you get the picture. Wait and save and you will one day have your dream home.

3. Don’t be afraid to take a risk. I know sometimes we have ideas that seem a little out there or we want to try something trendy but we are afraid we will hate it in a year and be stuck with it. Well I am here to tell you that there are NO RULES when it comes to designing you own home. Do what you love! Your the one who is living there anyway, right? I know that risks can be scary… but there are ways to make the leap a little easier. For example: do you really want to use a bold color in your home? Maybe start with some bold accessories? Or maybe paint a room bold and give it a couple months to see if you still like it. Paint is pretty easy to change, right?

Sarah Barksdale Design

4. Be willing to have the patience to “collect” your home over time.┬áThis one ties pretty closely to #2 in that we need to be patient and make the right decisions for our home. But what I am talking about here is be patient and find the items that really speak to you. Every home needs some things that are truly unique and special in them and you WILL NOT find that by buying all of your furniture and accessories from big box furniture stores (no offense Pottery Barn). So keep your eyes out when you are traveling or running errands for items that grab your attention. And have the patience to be ok with living in an “unfinished” home in the meantime.

Sarah Barksdale Design


5. Don’t over-design.┬áSometimes I think we have the misconception that more stuff equals a more finished home. We are afraid of empty space! Do we really need every square inch of a bookshelf to have something on it? Or do we really need to fill ever corner of a room with furniture even if that piece of furniture is completely pointless? No.

Sarah Barksdale Design

The key here is to create focal points in your home. Figure out what items in each room are the things you want people to see (#4) and then design the room around those things. Maybe you have an awesome chest in a bedroom, one way to make the chest stand out is to minimize how many items you put on top of it and around it. Let it be the focal point. The same goes with shelving… find the items that are the most special and de-clutter the rest.

Decorating can be a tricky process but don’t give up if you get stumped! If you are not in love with the way things are turning out, take a step back and see what needs to change. Its a process!

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2 Responses to the 5 most common mistakes people make when decorating their home

  1. jane says:

    These are tips I so needed to hear today as I’m in the process of making major changes in my living room (I have a post up on my blog right now if you’d like to weigh in). The risk taking fear and learning to be patient until I find exactly what I want are the issues I am facing right now. Your post really helped! I’d like to link back to this in my next blog post if that’s okay.


    • Hi Jane, I am so glad that my tips were able to help you! One of my favorite things about writing this blog is hearing from readers on the projects that they have going on in their own homes and how thing are coming together. You may certainly link back to this post in your next blog post! I look forward to reading your blog and hearing more about your living room changes.

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