Four ‘I blew it’ interior decorating mistakes to avoid

I’m on my third house and though I’ve decorated all of them, I’ve never hired an interior decorator. Instead, I have trusted in cleanliness, the desire for a welcoming home, and pleasing color combinations to provide the comfort I desire at home. I’ve found that advice is often a good thing to have because it avoids many problems, especially ones I’ve noticed when buying a new home. The worst mistake I saw while searching for a new home was mix-and-match flooring, read “Top Ten Aesthetic Mistakes Made in Selecting Flooring” to find out more. Here are four other mistakes that I made myself.

Cleaning Cupboard Door Hinges and Handles

When I decided to redo our kitchen cabinets, we removed the doors to paint them and that meant all of the brass fixtures, hinges and handles were removed, too. After 20 years of use, built-up grime made the door handles and hinges look extremely unpleasant to touch. So, I decided to soften the grime and stuck the whole mess of screws, hinges and handles into a bucket of ammonia soapy water. Three weeks later after all the cabinet doors were refinished, my husband went to reinstall them and we found that the hinges and handles had pitted, partially dissolved and changed color. We ended up buying new. The biggest mistake I made, though, was to throw out the attachment screws without knowing their size. This made it very difficult to find an exact replacement.

Painting Wood Trim Without Priming

We moved into a home with all-dark fixtures — doors, trim, cabinets, hand rails, window frames, etc. In order to create a modern, cheerier interior, we decided to paint everything a light color. I assumed the material was wood, but didn’t realize that some parts were wood, some had a fake wood finish, and some had been oiled over the years. A primer like Kill-Z, which is oil-based, will cover these type of products and leave a finish that will cover with a washable latex paint without chipping. Always check your paint before buying it to insure it will cure on the material you are painting. Chipped paint is hard to fix and looks really bad. Buy a cheap brush to apply oil-based primer and throw away the brush when it is dried, it is far easier to manage the task.

Buying Expensive Vent Covers

I’ve purchased floor vent covers in several different styles. Oak vent covers, I found, stained when I steam cleaned the carpets if they got damp, cracked if when stepped on, were hard to close and most ended up being replaced. Brass vent covers, I found, if glued together, eventually split apart from the heat from the furnace or if they got damp during steam cleaning. The softness of brass-finished vent covers also meant they got bent when stepped on. Heavy steel vent covers with a finish to match the trim, and that have a hasp attachment rather than a glued attachment, work best. Furnace intake vents are replaceable and washable — this is a better option than trying to paint them to improve their looks.

Buying Floor Rugs in a Heavy Use Area Was a Waste of Money

I had a long, tiled hallway and wanted wool carpet runners that matched the wool carpets in the basement. What I didn’t realize when I purchased them, was just how much traffic passed from the garage where we kept our cars, through the hallway and up the stairs to the main part of the house. In addition to our own traffic, the cats had a pet door out to their kitty litter, and at the base of the stairs, the intake vent for the house sucked a lot of dirt. These areas required constant cleaning and the carpets were very difficult to clean and very expensive to have dry-cleaned. I soon realized indoor/outdoor mats help cut down much of the dirt and were easily cleaned and much more disposable.

Finally, the worst interior decorating mistake ever made was to decorate just before moving, in order to sell it. This means that any money spent will make the new owner happy when the goal of interior decorating should be to please yourself.