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When you’re in your 20s and strapped for the requisite time, money, and space to make daring decor decisions, it can be tough to design a home that actually suits your personality. What often happens is we end up with a steady rotation of cheaper items that don’t have a lifespan of more than one year, or we end up panic-buying trendy things we don’t really need (guilty).   Enter: Yelp’s Home Editor, Lauren Makk, an interior designer and real estate expert. With several television appearances and a successful design blog under her belt, Makk is definitely an expert source for all things decor—including the biggest decor errors to avoid making. Which is why, in the name of budget saving and design longevity, we asked her to share the top mistakes 20-somethings make when decorating. Here’s what she had to say.

Mistake #1: Buying everything from the same place

Your apartment shouldn’t look like a showroom or catalogue on steroids. Instead, pick a color palette and style that you love, then look for local thrift stores and retailers to pick pieces to incorporate into your space.

Mistake #2: Choosing the wrong lighting for your space

Those colorful floor lamps with the octopus-style directional lighting should have never been created. Furthermore, they should never be purchased.


Mistake #3: Rushing your decorating

Your space should be a collection of found items that you love, so don’t waste your money on things you don’t love just to say you have it.

Mistake #4: Skipping a headboard because they’re too expensive

With so many affordable and easy DIY headboard ideas on the internet, there should be no excuse not to have one. After all, the headboard is generally the focal point of your bedroom, and sets the tone for the space.

Mistake #5: Keeping too many childhood mementos

Not everything from your childhood bedroom needs to come to your new apartment, so limit your stuffed animals to zero and box up those Precious Moments figurines to pass on to your great grandkids.

Mistake #6: Framing artist posters

Just say no to the life-sized Bob Marley poster. We know, you’re happy to have your first 4/20-friendly space and nothing says “liberation” like everyone’s favorite musician lighting up, but there are more subtle—and sophisticated—ways to pay homage. Consider framing album covers and hanging them together to create an interesting and tailored art collection.


Mistake #7: Not measuring your space before buying furniture

There’s nothing more embarrassing than having to return your couch because it doesn’t fit through your door. Prepare for your shopping trip by measuring the length and height of each wall, and take note of windows, plugs, air ducts, and any unusual architectural features. When you’re first moving in to your space, don’t be afraid to ask your mover questions about how they deal with large items, like couches and TVs.

Mistake #8: Painting before having any furniture

Of course you love that bright turquoise hue, but does it really need to go on all your walls? Instead, you may find that after you have completed your shopping that daring color could best be served as accent pieces that you can splash around the room instead. If you’re not confident in your painting skills, don’t be afraid to hire a professional. Better safe than stuck with a streaky wall!

Mistake #9: Following trends, like Pantone’s color of the year

Here’s a secret: The call it “color of the year” for a reason. Next year’s color will be completely different and there you’ll be, stuck with a bright purple room. Unless you’re Prince, you might not still be in love with [the color] by the next time you’re singing Auld Lang Syne.

Mistake #10: Displaying consumed liquor bottles

A young Lauren once filled hers with water and a highlighter cartridge, then placed a black light over them for a full-fledged neon artistic installation. Don’t be a young Lauren. Instead, upcycle a nice bar cart with a spritz of colorful spray paint and create a server bar for you and your of-age guests.


Mistake #11: Not considering your dating life

If you’re young and single, you may be inviting other young singles to your home… so ladies, keep the frills, zebra print, and lace to a minimum; fellas, keep the Scarface paraphernalia, dirty laundry, and gaming consoles tucked away. You want to create a space that reflects your style but keeps it inviting for your (ahem—overnight) guests.

Mistake #12: Underestimating the power of a clean space

Even if you don’t have the home of your dreams just yet, a nice and clean home reads as if you’ve really got your life together, and that your home is a place to be respected.

Mistake #13: Overspending on fresh flowers

There’s nothing more amazing than a fresh bouquet of flowers to add to your home, but if you’re on a limited budget, consider clippings from your own neighborhood that can bring some nature in. Clippings of eucalyptus, palm leaves, or even evergreens can really add a touch of nature and won’t cost you a penny. Find a local florist and get to know the sales people. They can alert you to deals to help you stay on budget.  


See more design tips and tricks:

Experts Share Their Tips for Budget-Friendly Renovation Organizing 101: How to Finally Declutter Your Home Expert Tips and Tricks on the Trendiest Trailing Plants

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