Published on July 20, 2019

There is a fine line between personal taste and decorating mistakes. After all, mixing metallics was long considered a faux pas but eventually found its way into the spotlight. Poorly proportioned furniture, on the other hand, will likely remain unfashionable for the foreseeable future. We are unwavering proponents of outfitting your home in a way that elicits joy and works for you, but sometimes—and especially when it comes to the details—an expert opinion is invaluable.

So naturally, we were curious to see what some of our favorite designers considered glaring design blunders. We asked a handful of professionals: What is the first mistake you notice upon entering a room? The answers encompassed everything from paint color to clutter and lighting. In the end, however, many echoed the sentiment that it’s more important to allow your personality to shine than to follow any decor rules. Read on to see what design experts consider the scarlet letter of home decor.

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Courtesy of Justina Blakeney

The Proportion Perfectionist

“When a room is totally void of personality, that’s something I notice immediately. Also when the scale of the furniture pieces doesn’t work with the size of the room.” [Luckily, we have this handy guide for you, courtesy of Nate Berkus]. —Justina Blakeney, founder of The Jungalow

The Clutter-Phobic

“I’m a big baby when it comes to clutter. It feels like an attack on my nervous system when I walk into a room and see it. I like things to feel open and airy, and when there’s too much going on, I believe it can compromise a room’s energy. Of course, it can be done well, such as in creative areas like a study or a well-loved office, but less is always going to be more for me.”  Rachel Saunders, ceramist 

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Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

The One With the Light Allergy

“I’d say I’m allergic to bad lighting—it really hurts my soul.” [Psst: Here’s a cheat sheet to perfect lighting]. —Fabiana Faria, designer and one half of Coming Soon

The Sweater Set Naysayer

“I think decorating a home should be fun and reflect your personality [with] travel adventures and favorite memories. When I see that someone has purchased their entire room furnishings from a single brand’s living room collection, it’s hard for me. I think the mistake is overmatching; it’s like a bad sweater set.” —Virginia Sin, multidisciplinary designer at Sin

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Courtesy of Nicole Gibbons

The Paint Aficionada

“Since I started my paint company, I’ve become hyperaware of the way paint colors can impact the vibe of a room. I sometimes cringe when I see a paint color that makes a space feel too big or too small, that doesn’t play well with the natural light, or isn’t the right color temperature to enhance the furniture and other decor elements. Paint truly sets the tone for the whole room, and it’s important to get it right so that the rest of the space flows well together.” [This might help when choosing a color].—Nicole Gibbons, interior designer and founder of Clare

The Rug Radical

“Area rugs that are too small. Postage stamp–size rugs make a space feel tinier than it really is. Go with the biggest size that the room can handle. If you have small vintage or antique rugs, layering one on top of another can be a nice look.” Grant Gibson, designer

See more tips we learned from designers:
6 Decorating Lessons We Learned From “Friends”
11 Affordable Decor Tips for Making Your Rental Look High-End
The Number-One Small-Space Decorating Mistake, According to Nate Berkus

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