Tips and Guides

Decorating Mistakes That You Need to Avoid—According to Professionals

Steer clear of these common boo-boos


As the saying goes, “Smart people learn from their mistakes. But the real sharp ones, learn from mistakes of others.” Mistakes in interior design can be costly so you’ll want to keep it to a minimum or if possible, down to zero. To help you curb those errors you might make along this decorating journey, our design experts share boo-boos they often see and what you can do to avoid them.

Main photos from: Desire to Inspire and SheerLuxe.

"Go soft with colors. Be bold but be very disciplined. Decide a neutral (in this case, a neutral can be any color as long as it is your general color for the room) and choose two (at the most) to accent your neutral." 

—Gwyn Guanzon, Interior Decorator

"Clinging to ugly furniture for sentimental reasons. Heed the words of Elsa: 'Let it go!' [You also need to be on the lookout when] discarding old furniture. Google upcycling tips or hire an expert to do it for you."

—Allen Oblena, Designer; BRAVARC

Photo from Tara Benet via Residence Style.

"Many people overdesign their spaces, and end up with a showroom rather than a space they can comfortably live in. Too much accessories defeat the purpose of “accents,” that homes end up with a hodgepodge of things. For me, spaces are beautiful when accents accentuate, and not dominate the interior space."

—Hannah Acab-Faustino, Interior Designer, IDeal Interior Design Services; Professor, University of the Philippines-Diliman

"Using too much of the same thing, like with having a theme or using a monotonous color scheme for their décor. Mix it up, don’t be afraid to inject some contrast. and play with color and pattern."

—Vera Nadine Villarosa-Orila, Interior Designer

Photo from Desire to Inspire.

"Firstly, when people don't get a pro to do the job, everything snowballs into bigger and bigger mistakes. We've seen it before and we will definitely see it again. Although specifically, we advise people to not copy friends' or neighbors' style choices. What worked for them may not work for your personality, lifestyle, beliefs, and design preferences. Design isn't a one size fits all kind of thing. A home's design should reflect the owner and other residents of that home. The best way to find your own style is to create a vision or design board and populate it with some of the things that you like. And then slowly but surely, cut the choices down. Do it in rounds and you will eventually end up with a design that is personalized to you. Then, get the help of a pro to translate that vision into a reality."

—Joel Salazar, President and Head of Design, Lucina Home

Photo from The Design Chaser.

"Allowing organized clutter to be part of the decor. I am guilty of this. Clutter has a way of creeping its way into our homes; a pile of magazines, shopping bags, groceries on the kitchen counters. After a while it's still there but has found a spot, neatly placed and  is positioned as if styled into the decor. (Or so we think!) Get rid of them. Put them in their proper storage space."

—Arlene Maslog, Architect, Maison Design Build Co. Ltd.

Photo from SheerLuxe.

"Over-decorating. It’s best to practice restraint when decorating a space. Over-decorating will make a space look crowded and cluttered. To avoid this, always edit and take away a few items from the space after decorating. You can always store these items and rotate them at a later time."

—Misty Floro and Pai Edles, Design Principals, Morfosis Design

Photo from Homedit.

"Some homeowners design bathrooms on their own without proper knowledge of accessible design, standard clearances, and safety in the materials used. This also applies to commercial spaces where the bathroom accessories such as mirror and tissue dispensers are at improper heights. Safety is very important in the bathroom because wet areas are slippery and can cause accidents. For example, polished tiles should not be used for the floor. Bad tile work might be executed by a non-experienced person where, aside from misaligned tiles may cause injury, bad tile work is susceptible to accumulation of dirt and molds. Even if the primary users of the bathroom do not have disabilities, consider guests that might have disabilities. Primary users of the space may also age in the place and the need for larger clearances and improved ease of use will be required later in their life."

—Kimi Manuel, Freelance Interior Designer

Photo from Desire to Inspire.

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