Decorating Mistakes of First Time Home Owners

Buying your first house is a major milestone for most of us. Not only is it intimidating to get a mortgage, save the down payment, and orchestrate a move, now the question is what do I do with this empty house? You’ve made a long term commitment buying this house and getting a mortgage. You may have certain indulgent ideas from a fantasy of the younger you. Your dream could be owning an oversized bed, or integrating a fireman’s pole from ceiling to floor, or designing truly magical children’s rooms. Whether or not it takes shape depends on your circumstances and updated sense of taste.

Yet sometimes, great décor decisions are not just about what you hope to achieve but also what you should avoid. That might sound negative, but actually, knowing a few limiting parameters can help you reign in your creativity to a reasonable and sensible degree, often to the point where decisions you make are fully justified, pointed, and appreciated.

But of course, often the issues you wish to avoid will depend entirely on the space you hope to create. Today I’m sharing decorating advice from multiple experts in the design field. My goal for this post is to give the reader an administrative device to help you make your own creative decisions more readily:

Plan Structural Changes

Do you watch DIY shows on television? Have you noticed how many people try to do the changes themselves when they don’t know have the knowledge? Taking out walls looks like fun as we watch pros enjoying tearing things up. It’s not fun when the ceiling starts to sag because you took out structural supports. Most of us are not engineers or construction experts. Taking a class at Home Depot on how to tile and then using that information is not a bad thing. (I wouldn’t try tiling as I’ve always been a klutz.} Watching a video online and then attempting to re-wire your home is extremely foolish and not recommended.

Photo A Glass of Bovino

Design Process

There’s nothing wrong with trying a new design from room to room but most designers choose a theme to connect the rooms in the home. As we discussed in structural change, first make a plan for each room. Set your budget, research what is required such as you’ll paint or pros will make the changes. Get permits from local government for structural change, and get multiple bids with references. Contact the references and ask about the process. Remember being beautiful is useless if the change is NOT functional. That means you must first fix problems with the house before you spend your money and time on making it beautiful. I know no one sees new electrical wiring but it comes before a paint job or art. Designer Tina Huffman at Greenhouse Studio has a great post with step by step instructions on how to decorate like a designer. Her steps are:

1. Make A Budget
2. Create A Mood board
3. Choose Your “Springboard” (Inspiration) Object
4. Make A Room Layout Plan
5. Choose Foundation Furniture
6. Pick Paint Colors
7. Scale Up
8. Don’t Over-Source Any Single Source
9. Inject Your Own Style And Individuality

Over at, they offer tools to help you design a room or home online. Sherri B. has a post about how she designed her dream office without having moved into her new home. It’s very inspiring! You want to have “negative space” in rooms. You may plan a focal gallery wall. It can make a big difference in a room. Allow bare walls around the gallery of frames or objects. It will make the gallery pop against the wall. Don’t overdo with too many focal walls competing for attention. Remember when I added a picture ledge in the dining room? A gentleman on Etsy made the ledge to order and a handyman installed it. One of the best things I ever added to my home. That is a great focal point.

Hoarding & Overpopulation

Gathering a whole bunch of stuff is not uncommon for first-time homeowners. Having storage space and the willingness to fill it are a match made in heaven. We’ve discussed in a previous post that purging possessions before a move with save you time and energy. I have also found that several times after I moved into a new home, I again took a more leisurely review of décor items and family treasures as I unpacked. Take several weeks to learn your new home before all the art is placed on walls. It’s easy to move a vase from one spot to another, but it’s harder to remove wall art and patch walls. As I move furniture and decorations around, I try to develop a particularly feeling in my home. I suggest you do not let those old boxes of possessions fill your closets. I remember in my 20’s I moved from an apartment with a box of “treasures” I had packed 3 years before for my last move. I had never opened or used it. I made myself take the time to re-evaluate those keepsakes. If you have possessions like work equipment you are not using now but will use again in the future, I suggest you do not store them in your home. Filling up your basement with boxes is not a good way to organize your home or develop a calm space. If it’s in your budget, try a service like to find the best storage facility near you. This can ensure that you need not overcrowd your home or risk a fire safety hazard. Use a storage that offers climate control to protect your possessions. Up north extreme cold or moisture could damage your possessions. Here in Florida it means the storage is air conditioned.

Buying All The Furniture at Once

While buying all your furniture at once seems convenient, it leaves you susceptible to making more mistakes. You really don’t want you living room to look like the furniture showroom. That isn’t unique or personal. Also you might think that a rug will be great with your sectional, but you can’t be certain until you know all the other elements you’ve ordered. The rug might be too small or not the right color. Unless you have a good eye, it isn’t easy to envision all your furniture together. Also only you know what décor items mean something to you. Paintings by my father are always on the wall in the bedrooms. They mean something to me. I find some of my treasured items are really symbols of faith, family, and a time in my life. Sometimes what’s important is how the combination makes me feel. Having a small trendy décor item is ok and easy to switch out later. Buying kitchen cabinets that are the latest in color will mean that in the not distance future they will be out of style. Buy big items that you can live with for years.

Photo Simply Home Decorating

Too Many Fixtures & Features

In a flurry of excitement, it’s very easy to find yourself installing and reformatting fixtures that you find important. From perfecting an ultimate staging area for all of your games consoles and television, to making a huge bookshelf in order to store all of your volumes. Don’t overfill every corner in your house with furniture and things. Too much furniture makes your space seem smaller and increases stress. There is a happy medium between an empty house and an over-stuffed room with no space to walk. Try several layouts to find the sweet spot for your big items.

Make sure you consider space, power consumption, and pure navigability. It might be that limiting your smart appliance usage, for instance, can help avoid overcomplicating everything and allow some more room for decoration as necessary.

Photo Modsy

Use Primer

Beautiful wallpaper and high-quality paint deserve to be layered on a smooth, primed surface. Primer is always a good idea, but you will need to follow the directions on the wallpaper roll or paint can, as it varies.

Home Depot Interior & Exterior House Painting Tips

Wrong Lighting

A survey of 1,757 British homeowners across a range of ages and locations was conducted between 01/06/20 – 15/06/20. Nearly three quarters of the people (73%) said they choose the wrong lighting, resulting in rooms that are too dark. Lighting is vital for a light and airy feeling. This is especially true in rooms that don’t get a lot of natural daylight. Do your homework and learn about the types of lighting and what would work best. Remember adding lighting in the ceiling or walls requires an electrician to run wiring to code.

Photo LivingEtc

My hope is that this advice will help you to avoid the first-time mistakes that many homeowners experience.

This is a collaborative post but all opinions are my own.

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I was raised in Tennessee but have lived in Florida for many years. Love my small home in the Tampa Bay area and its developing garden. My decorating style is eclectic - some vintage, some cottage, all with a modern flair. Pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Spent many years in social services but am happily retired.

4 thoughts to “Decorating Mistakes of First Time Home Owners”

  1. Great post and great advice Carol 🙂 We have so much stuff to get rid of. I remember a friend telling us when she was moving after living in her home for umpteen years, get rid of all that stuff, don’t wait like we did 🙂 We are trying to do that right now, though we don’t plan on moving any time soon. We just need to start the process. Thoroughly enjoyable post!

    1. it’s a never ending problem with me – I think my things rub their legs together and reproduce.

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