Design Disasters - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

In recent months, my wife and I have been on the hunt for a house. Fortunately the search is over, but in the course of looking for our dream home, we were treated to a few – shall we say – interesting approaches to decorating.

Of course we told ourselves going in, “Walls can be painted,” and, “Imagine our furniture in here, not theirs.” But we noticed a few things that were enough to make us ask each other, “What were they thinking?”

These screaming, shrieking examples of what NOT to do, are worth mentioning:

Theme Decorating

We get it. You love Tarzan. But is it really necessary to drape vines from the ceiling of your family room? That life-size cheetah standing in the corner, while impressive, isn’t really adding much to the room – unless you count a stuffed chimp as “flair.”

There are better ways to express your interests or passions in decorating your home.

Try out a Fathead. These removable decals can be stuck to the wall and moved at will. They don’t leave marks on your walls should your allegiances change, and you can get one of about anyone or anything you can imagine.

And leave the sports teams to the rec room or the kids’ bedrooms. When it comes to decorating your home, keep your living and family rooms neutral territory. When you entertain, keep in mind that not everyone shares your passion for the Packers. That is, of course, unless you live in Green Bay. It’s like a law or something.

Overmatching and Overdoing it with Materials

A close relative to theme decorating is overmatching. Mauve walls may suit you just fine, but when they’re accented with a mauve bedspread draped over a mauve headboard, next to the mauve lampshade, upon whose mauve lamp rests upon a mauve carpet, you move from the territory of accent to accident.

Accent colors are just that – punctuation. Instead of going overboard with olive drab, pull inspiration from a pattern or color you like and match it with color palettes in the paint aisle of your hardware store. They’ll give you a smattering of like-hued samples to choose from. It’s a great place to start, and it’ll lend some variety to the colors in the room.

But let’s say you have some extra tiles. Try to resist the urge to use them as covering for the walls of your basement stairwell (yes, I really saw this).

Recognize where materials like carpet, wood flooring and tile should be used. Typically, carpet is used in family rooms to limit the echo from the TV and to offer a comfortable place to kick off your shoes. Hard materials like tile and wood flooring are used in bathrooms, kitchens or wherever food or water could be  present, as a general rule. Think foyer, bathroom, kitchen, dinette, etc.

And besides, bathroom carpet? Ew.

Hanging Frames Too Low or Too High

When we moved into our last house, we had a theory about the pictures hung in the stairwell. We decided that the previous owners had both sprained their ankles and had to sit on the stairs when they hung their pictures. It had to be the reason why their family photos were all at hip level.

The general rule of thumb is to hang your pictures at eye level. It’s where most people will see them.

If not eye level, center the wall-hanging vertically on the wall. Not the nail. THE PICTURE. The nail isn’t always at the top of the frame.

Barebone Windows

I’ll admit it. My wife and I were guilty of this for a while. Our previous home’s first floor didn’t have any blinds when we moved in. We installed sheer curtains throughout the first and second floor, but no blinds. We were just starting out and we didn’t budget for them.

We got away with it for a while, but when that first east/west sun hit the house at the height of the summer, we knew we had pushed our luck long enough.

Looking back on it, the house was full of furniture and decorated the way we liked, but the windows were the missing piece. Not only had we limited ourselves in the way we could let natural light into the house, the windows had a skeletal kind of unfinished-ness to them.

Eventually, we pulled the funds together to put up our blinds, and as an added bonus, we were able to save some money on our AC bill. As it turned out, the blinds helped the windows insulate against that hot summer sun.

Knickknack Attack

When it comes to your precious Hummel ceramic motivational figurines, fewer are far, far better.

Those little guys (aside from being creepy to some) can overtake a house in no time. I’ve seen it happen.

Knickknack obsessions come in many forms (Beanie Babies anyone?). Guys aren’t immune either. Knife collections, action figures and fish lures can all be hoarded to obscene capacities.

There’s a threshold between “too much” and “cute collection.” But when you’re in doubt about how much is too much, ask a friend. Preferably one with a smaller collection than yours.

Red flags abound, and this is by no means the list of all design disasters. Have you come across any in your hunt for a house? Are your parents guilty of any of the ones we mentioned above? Are you?

Let us know in the comments below.


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