Learn 6 common DIY design mistakes that you could be making

Designing and decorating your own home might seem intimidating and you might think the pros make it look so easy.  Well, we do know a thing or two and after several years I’ve learned several mistakes homeowners and design enthusiasts often make with their own homes.  So let’s dive in and see what common DIY design mistakes I want you to avoid as you update your space into your own Pin-worthy home.

1-Rushing through the design

Nothing leads to potential expensive DIY design mistakes like rushing your home design.  This is not the time to pull a last minute all-nighter my friend. 

As an interior designer I have to start designs from scratch ALL. THE. TIME.  It’s naturally part of my job.  And while I absolutely love it, I’d be lying if I said it isn’t stressful at times.  When I first start designing for my clients, I give myself several weeks to create the design.  Good designs develop over time so I give myself plenty of time to let the creative process strike.  I allow time to walk design showrooms, browse vendor catalogs, and search online for inspiration.  

When you begin a home update or design project remember to give yourself the gift of patience and browse stores with the intention of just looking.  Take note of what things peak your interest and make you do a double take.  That might just be the beginning of your next great design.

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2-Not figuring out your design style or
design preferences

When you read that was your first thought “but I don’t have a style?”  If yes, then know that you’re not alone.  In fact, not knowing your interior design style might stress you out.  And the truth is you might never be totally specific or clear on your specific style or fit neatly into a design style box.  And that’s okay.  

However, you likely know what you do and more importantly–what you don’t like.  And that’s good enough.  Knowing what you don’t like is actually really important because it leads you to your final design. 

When I share images with my clients on a shared inspiration board on Pinterest, I think it’s just as important to know what images they don’t like.  Above all, it narrows down their design preferences so I can uncover the design style they actually do like.  

So, take your time discovering what your design preferences are to avoid common DIY mistakes  like choosing things that aren’t your style. 

Interior design and home decorating quote

3-Forgetting to measure (twice)

Not measuring is one of the most common DIY design mistakes I see design enthusiasts and DIYers make.   But, luckily it’s easy to avoid and fix so you don’t waste your time and money.  I know it can be really tempting to search online or head to HomeGoods and spot something you absolutely love and want to buy right on the spot.  But please, don’t do it.  Impulse purchases are not your friend.  It’s really important to make sure what you want to buy is the right size for the room you want to put it in. 


My favorite tip is to keep measurements listed in a note taking app that you can access on your phone or on your computer.  For instance Trello, Google Docs or Milanote would all work.  I personally use Trello and create boards for each client to keep track of measurements, paint colors, etc.. So, wherever I am, I have their measurements on my phone or computer neatly organized.  I also created a personal Trello board for my house and family.  In my personal board, I keep my own measurements as well as our family takeout orders for all 4 of us so we don’t forget important info like extra guac at Chipotle;)

4-Avoid DIY design mistakes & take inventory

How many of us have existing furniture in our homes and aren’t designing a space from scratch?  For instance, hand me down furniture, or pieces we already have that we want to keep.  Well, not factoring those pieces into your design is another common DIY design mistake.  Before starting your design project or refresh, take inventory of what you currently have and most importantly, what you want to keep in the space.  It’s smart to photograph each piece you want to keep and add it to your notes board so you know for sure if that fabulous end table will match the lamp you already own. 

Remember, you get to choose what you keep or don’t keep in the space.  If your Aunt Tilly’s dining room table isn’t your jam, then find a local charity that could use it.

5-Know your home habits

I see unlivable design spaces all the time.  You know the ones, I mean, right?  They’re rooms that you’re a little (alright a lot) scared to sit in or use.  I personally think we need to design spaces for living, and not just for show.  Therefore, you need to think carefully about how you and your family live day to day and make sure your design works for how you live.

When I go to a new client’s home for a design consultation, I remind them not to tidy up too much.  I need to see the way they live in their home.  I consider home and interior design a “no judgment” zone so I gently remind potential clients to let me see their homes as they really are. 

For example, if you have a house of active, young children with toys, cheetos, and crayons in the family room, then I’ll know that silk drapery panels and glass coffee tables with sharp corners aren’t the best choice.  

So think about how you live in your home and ask yourself some of questions below and give real answers. 

Questions to ask to help you plan your design

6-Not hiring when you’re over your head

The final DIY design mistake I see is thinking you’re capable of doing things that are over your skill set.  Look–as a self-proclaimed DIYer this was hard even for me.  My husband and I are pretty handy and have done some decent updates to our home on our own.  We also don’t like to spend a lot if we don’t have to. But, we’re able to recognize when the task is too hard for us or we don’t have the time to give something our best effort. 

DIY-gods- quote

An example of hiring pros is my custom office bookcases.  We had never hired a carpenter but thought we could do a decent job.  Maybe we could even try an Ikea hack and build a decent bookcase.  But, I learned fast that we just aren’t skilled carpenters and after trying some handiwork in my son’s closet we made the wise decision to hire a professional carpenter to build it.  And it turned out beautifully. In addition, what took him days would’ve taken us weeks or more.  We didn’t have the time to learn and do what we needed to. 


On a side note, I thought I’d do a great job painting this new bookcase, but luckily I knew I’d mess that up, too.  I painted plenty of walls in my home and thought “I can do this.”  But custom carpentry is different and when you’re paying for custom carpentry you don’t want to ruin it with a hand painted finish.  You want a smooth, factory finish and not a bunch of brush strokes. So, we hired that out, too, and I’m so glad I did.

Conclusion-Final thoughts...

So I want to know…what DIY design mistakes are you making? Or which one will you try to change moving ahead?  Leave a comment and let me know.  

Be sure to download my Ultimate Interior Design Cheat Sheet Bundle filled with 9 how-to style guides to help make your next DIY design project much easier. 

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Sally Soricelli