If it isn’t obvious already, we love a good design mistake. From paint mishaps to bedroom faux pas, there’s something about understanding what not to do that really sticks with you. And leads towards even more interesting stories and spaces moving forward (kinda like life).
Plus, design is incredibly fluid, subjective, and creative — mistakes and questionable decisions are inevitable and in our opinion, welcome. We believe the best design comes from trying new things and simply playing around. Plus, what better way to hone and sharpen your design skills than to make a few mistakes here and there? Even if that mistake is going all-in on wall-to-wall wicker furniture in the 90s or buying a rug that’s three times too small for your living room.
While we’ve already covered common decorating mistakes, bathroom design mistakes, dining room mistakes, and beyond, we decided to take a slightly more personal approach and put our very own Havenly designers in the hot seat. Ahead, our design team dishes on the design mistakes they’ve made themselves over the years, and what they’ve learned to do instead.
Interior Design Mistake #1: Matching Furniture
“I still remember my post-college days when I thought my bed, nightstand, and dresser should all match. Or when I got my first big-kid job and promptly bought a complete set of wicker living room furniture – complete with matching floral cushions. But now, I’ve seen enough incredible spaces to know the magic is always in the mix. Mixing furniture styles, silhouettes, materials, and finishes creates a more layered, lived-in aesthetic.” – Havenly Lead Designer Heather Goerzen
Interior Design Mistake #2: Filler Decor
“I’m definitely guilty of forcing decor into every nook, cranny, and empty wall in the name of ‘completing the look.’ But now, as a professional designer, I’ve learned that purposeful negative space is essential when designing a functional, beautiful home. Without it, a room can feel cluttered and visually chaotic instead of curated and calming.” – Havenly Lead Designer Kelsey Fischer
Interior Design Mistake #3: Sticking to One Era
“I am 100% guilty of going all-in on a single design style, instead of mixing historical influences for a more unique feel. The latter ends up feeling more like a movie set with props than an actual home — it’s the same reason why mid-century modern everything can feel like a scene out of Mad Man. Now, I’m all about mixing pieces, color palettes, patterns, and beyond from different eras for a richer space!” – Havenly Lead Designer Kelsey Fischer
Interior Design Mistake #4: Forgetting to Measure
“Have you ever bought a sofa and not been able to fit it through your apartment door? I have. I never really paid attention to dimensions in my early years — my design-oriented mind basically ignored the math part. Now, I make sure to triple check dimensions, and even mock-up the floor plan using painter’s tape in my actual space (my favorite hack). If mapping out your space is tricky, no worries! We know a few pros who are more than willing to help you achieve the perfect flow.” – Havenly Lead Designer Heather Goerzen
Interior Design Mistake #5: Shopping Without a Plan
“As a designer and design-lover, I’ve totally gone overboard when decor shopping. You walk down one too many Target aisles, and all of a sudden, you have an entire home’s worth of new decor with no plan for how or when to use it. Now, I try to edit down my decor by season and sell or donate pieces accordingly. Not every surface, shelf, wall, or empty nook needs decor anyways!” – Havenly Lead Designer Kelsey Fischer
Interior Design Mistake #6: Matching Wood Tones & Metals
“In the past, if I used brass, it was all brass. If I brought in a walnut table, the rest of my furniture was walnut, too. But now, I’ve realized that it’s the intentional, mis-matched blend that feels much more captivating and design-forward. Think of it in layers: In order to create depth and dimension, you must have different tones, finishes, and textures to draw you in.” – Havenly Lead Designer Toussaint Derby
Interior Design Mistake #7: Following Every Trend
“Remember shabby chic? Exposed Edison bulbs? Boho everything? Yeah, me too. And I went in on them. Don’t get me wrong — I trend-spot with the best of them and my home features its fair share of current designer fixations (looking at you, bouclé). The real issue is when a space is only brimming with flash-in-the-pan fads, and features far too few classic, enduring elements. Now, I try to balance modern trends and timeless pieces for style with staying power.” – Havenly Lead Designer Heather Goerzen
Interior Design Mistake #8: Zero Size Variation
“Now, I understand that paying attention to the size and scale of your furnishings is importance — but that wasn’t always the case. I’ve definitely gone all-in on square, boxy furnishings, from sofas and accent chairs to side and coffee tables, instead of mixing in different silhouettes, heights, and shapes. But it’s all about creating balance instead of matches. If you have a boxy, angular sofa, opt for a round coffee table for much-needed balance and contrast.” – Havenly Lead Designer Kelsey Fischer
Interior Design Mistake #9: Lining Walls with Furniture
“I’ve definitely struggled with this in the past, especially when living in very tight spaces where it feels natural to shove chairs into corners and push your sofa up against the wall. But I promise — even pulling out your sofa five inches or so, or using chairs to create a conversation nook, will make all the difference! – Havenly Lead Designer Kelsey Fischer
Interior Design Mistake #10: Karate-Chopped Pillows
“I used to be the pillow karate chop’s number-one fan, but now, I embraced a less harsh look dubbed the ‘pillow fluff.’ The latter feels much more natural and cozy — you don’t need to chop your pillows into oblivion to create a sophisticated, elegant sofa setup!” – Havenly Lead Designer Heather Goerzen
Interior Design Mistake #11: Hanging Artwork Too High
“I hung a piece of artwork far too high in my old bedroom, and when I look back on those photos, I cringe! Having to crane your neck upward to enjoy beautiful artwork is not the way to go. Now, I always make sure to hang artwork at eye-level in every project, personal and otherwise. And when hung above a piece of furniture like a dresser, sideboard, or bed, remember: leave four to 12 inches of space in between!” – Havenly Lead Designer Toussaint Derby
Interior Design Mistake #12: Fear of Commitment
“When I first started designing, adding in a ‘pop’ of color meant just that: a few colorful pillows or a vibrant vase and booms. But I eventually learned that dipping a toe into color can quickly fall flat — there’s no dimension; no interest; no surprise factor. What you really want is depth of color in the form of strategic layers that create a rich, all-encompassing feel — like you’re experiencing a color, rather than looking at it. That means that if you’re going to paint walls, paint them all. If you’re going to weave in color, really go for it!” – Havenly Lead Designer Kelsey Fischer
Interior Design Mistake #13: Skimping on Rug Size
“Let’s be honest, we’ve all made this design mistake at some point. Whether you’re trying to save money by opting for a smaller size, or genuinely lack of knowledge about proper rug sizing, this faux pas can quickly make a room feel small and unfinished. As a rule of thumb, all of your furniture pieces should sit comfortably on the rug — or at least the front two legs! Mapping out rug sizes using measuring tapes before purchasing is a great way to avoid having this disappointment.” – Havenly Lead Designer Heather Goerzen
Interior Design Mistake #14: DIY Overboard
“If anything really hit home from this list, it’s this one. I am a DIY master, but I’ve definitely had had my fair share of projects that lean more ‘craft fair’ than luxe for less. Now, I always try to weigh my skillset, time, and ability and take a hard look at what will give me the best outcome: buy or DIY. Sometimes, it means stepping away from the hot glue gun.” – Havenly Lead Designer Kelsey Fischer
Looking for a way to overcome your unique home dilemmas? Work one-on-one with our expert interior designers for just $129 per room. Get started today with our style quiz.