It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. That’s right, we’re talking about your twenties.
As most people’s first brush with independence, the decade is filled with a lot of exciting firsts: Your first grown-up job, your first adult apartment, and your first time splurging on things like sheets and cookware. But with every first comes a series of trials and errors—and your home décor is no exception. After all, nobody gets decorating right on the first try. (Yes, even the pros.)
While you might’ve loved your space when you were in your twenties, you look back on your home and wonder what you were thinking!
As the old adage goes, with age comes wisdom; however, you don’t have to wait another decade to finesse your interior design skills. We asked a handful of interior designers about the mistakes everyone makes in their twenties—and how to fix them. Whether you’re still basking in your twenties or want to take a walk down memory lane, you can never be too old to turn your home into a well-appointed oasis.
“Paint can be immediately rewarding, which feeds right into that 20-year-old need for quick gratification, making it a go-to for this age group. It is also an inexpensive and easy way to change up a space. However, without a lot of experience with paint, it can be easy to assume the color of your favorite T-shirt will translate into a great wall color. Or even more extreme, an entire room color. Instead, go for more neutrals on the walls, and stick to bold color on a dresser, piece of artwork, or rug.” —Amber Dunford, design psychology expert and lead stylist at Overstock
Not Enough Blank Space
“A common design mistake when you are new to creating your own space is feeling the need to fill every square inch. Overfilling the walls with art, cramming too many chairs into a seating group, or lining the perimeter of the space with furniture, leaving no rest for the eye or negative space. Instead, start with an area rug that defines the space and build off that footprint when laying out a floor plan. But make sure to leave room for walkways and transitions between furniture areas!” —Amber Dunford
Too Many Trends
“I think people often try to incorporate too many trends into their space when they are first getting started. It’s easy to get caught up in the ‘of the moment’ look and within a few months you have a house full of mismatched styles. When I see a new item for the home, I usually give myself a week before I purchase to make sure I really like it, need it in my home and see it fitting in with my aesthetic. This ‘waiting period’ allows me to make good choices from a style perspective but is also good for my budget.”—Ariel Kaye, founder and CEO of Parachute
Mixed Up Measurements
“We’ve all purchased furnishings that were either too big or too small for a space, only to wonder why we didn’t measure!? This is very common, especially when it comes to decorating your first home. It’s really important to measure your space and create a floor plan to make sure it feels balanced and functional. Blue tape is the easiest way to measure things out and make sure it all works. Luckily with the advent of AptDeco, Kaiyo, Chairish, and many others, it’s easier than ever to sell those mistakes and replace them with better options.” —Gabriela Gargano, founder of Grisoro Designs
We’ve all purchased furnishings that were either too big or too small for a space, only to wonder why we didn’t measure!? This is very common, especially when it comes to decorating your first home.
Still Decorating With Posters
“In your twenties, it’s time to ditch the posters and invest in framed art to decorate your walls. Art and frames don’t have to be expensive either. You can pick up small prints at local markets or on Etsy and frame them with standard size frames from Target, IKEA, or EQ3, a few of my favorite places for affordable, ready to hang frames. Create your own gallery wall mixed with prints, photos, or framed momentos.” —Alessandra Wood, interior design expert and vice president of style at Modsy
“One design mistake is purchasing complete large, matching bedroom suites. Sometimes, furniture is accumulated without proper space planning. Today, I find people are more intentional about their purchases. Trends change, but choosing pieces that speak to you and how you want to inhabit your home, will never go out of style.” —Marie Flanigan, interior designer
“In your twenties, you tend to be more impulsive so purchases are made without much forethought, rather than fitting them into an overall and well-conceived plan. How do you fix it? Get clear on your true taste and what makes you happy and develop a master plan. Keep what works and discard the rest. Build around your plan, even if it takes a while, and no impulse buying!” —Kendall Wilkinson, interior designer
Quality Over Quantity
“We are all a victim of this in our twenties, but one of the biggest mistakes young people make is buying pieces that are less expensive at the time, but end up scratching, fading or breaking due to poor design quality. I promise that you will end up spending less in the long-run (and enjoy your pieces much longer!) by investing in quality pieces that could last a lifetime.” —Margaret Ash, interior designer
“I think people in their twenties tend to buy low quality, disposable furniture and too much of everything! Probably for the very reason that it's most people's first brush with design freedom. Ideally, I'd suggest going to consignment stores and flea markets for higher quality pieces. And also to take your time with the process. Not everything has to be purchased at once! I also think it's important to realize when you've truly outgrown a piece or style and invoke the Marie Kondo philosophy: Be grateful for the purpose it served in your life at the time and sell or donate items you no longer like or want.” —Elizabeth Cooper, interior design
Not Recognizing Personal Style
“I spent the majority of my twenties, collecting tear sheets from shelter magazines and creating a vision of my dream home in my head. Along with that came a distaste for everything I owned and the desire to have a picture perfect abode. I quickly learned that neither my style, nor my purse, could lend itself to this editorial-worthy dream. Once I began to embrace the items I had collected, from hand-me-down pieces of furniture, to treasures found on the streets of New York, I realized that I had created a style that was all my own and one that I could execute financially. Mixing the old with the new and embracing all the things I love is what defines my home now and it couldn't be more uniquely me.” —Roxy Te, founder and creative director of Society Social