Mistakes have been made …

Oh, yeah. Mistakes get made. I wish I could talk about the mistakes that I made while shooting SFAS. Half the time we didn’t have time to exactly fix them so then the homeowner, who was normally so excited about the design and didn’t notice any mistakes, would read the post and get sad because they would find out that there was something that I wasn’t terribly happy with. And that just seemed unnecessary and mean.

But trust me, when you are designing super fast, you make mistakes. Being a good designer doesn’t mean that you don’t make mistakes, it just means that you know it when you do and you do what you can to change them. Yes, this has cost me money with my real clients, for sure. And it SUCKS. But every house is different, every sofa is different, and you learn something new each time — often the hard way.

For the ‘House of the Year’ that I’ve been documenting this past last week there was one major design decision that was a total mistake. You might remember that the living room looked like this:


As I was pulling together the art direction and general design concept I found pictures of this house:


And I was all …  YES YES YES!!! Let’s paint the molding the dark color but leave the walls white. It will be unexpected and exciting. People would sing ‘For She’s A Jolly Good Fellow,’ maybe there would be a parade, or at least some sort of standing ovation. I pictured that scene from ‘A Christmas Story’ where Ralphie turned in his paper to the teacher and fantasized her writing A+ A+ A+ while the students cheered:

ralphie A+

And then this guy would probably give me a slow clap …


… with a couple ‘Brava, Brava,’ which is the super pretentious way of saying ‘Bravo.’

While I knew it wasn’t that genius, — I mean I was clearly copying someone else’s idea — I did think it was going to be awesome. So they painted the molding the dark teal color (Benjamin Moore ‘Oasis Blue’). And then they sent me the picture. (REMEMBER: I’m in LA and the house is in New York.) At this point I’ve only seen it once, and while I had photos, not actually being in the space and really feeling it makes a huge difference. And for the record the editors from CL were totally down. They loved the idea and gave it a big ‘go for it.’

So Isabella sent me the photo of the molding after it was painted:

painted moulding

It’s a great photo, I know. And I have no idea who the naked man is (holding his caulk none the less). Needless to say there were no crowds cheering and all I really I wanted to do was this:

baby crying

Before I said too much I asked Isabella (the project manager and a GREAT designer) if it was too late to change it. She said ‘I don’t think so’ and then I called up the editors. I told them that I think I made a mistake and that the painted moldings made the room look CRAZY busy instead of awesome, and that they have to be painted back white. They agreed, thank God.

country modern house

I MEAN … WILDY better, right? Whoops.

Here is what I didn’t think about in my excitement:

1. The actual window casing is vinyl and white, whereas in the inspiration shots it’s wood and glass only. Therefore there is even more busy-ness and really draws attention to the vinyl casings.

2. We don’t have shutters. Never did, never will. One of the reasons that it works in that space is because the windows have shutters and therefore have larger chunks of the color — not just these dinky stripes. Lesson: Be inspired by something, but also use your own eyes in your head and see what your actual options are in your house.

3. We had A TON of windows and they are all really close together. Normally this is like winning the lottery, but by painting the window casing a dark color it made the room crazy busy. You couldn’t even see the sunlight or the pretty views anymore; ALL you saw was those dark squares all over the walls.

4. Sometimes inspiration pictures are just such pretty pictures that once you look at the facts, actually take in what they did and why, you find that the idea behind them isn’t necessarily that awesome. It’s just a striking photo by an amazing photographer and a great stylist. I’m not necessarily saying it’s the case with this one, but I’ve noticed this a lot.

So, my friends, lesson learned. If/when you are blessed with a lot of windows in a room, DON’T paint them a dark color. If you have one major focal window, and say, some beautiful antique wood shutters then yes, go for it. But learn from my mistakes.

Was this an expensive mistake? Probably around $800, but the contractor/painter fixed it immediately. If this had been a paying client I don’t know what I would have done. Technically when the client approves something (which you actually have them sign off on in writing) you aren’t liable anymore, but in this case I would really feel like it was my fault and that I should have known better so therefore I probably would have paid out of pocket to get it repainted.

Either way, mistakes are made … and then fixed in the design world every day. Now you tell me yours … please ???

  1. Gurrrrrrl……after 20 years in this “bidness” I have made a goof or 2. It can be a delicate situation….especially when there are paying clients involved. Humor helps:).

  2. Kim

    I once decided I needed a mustard color flatweave rug for my living room. It looked great in my mind and I didn’t even hate it the day I put it down, but the longer I had it the more unsettled it made me feel. My color preferences lean toward cool tones so that huge warm burst in my living room simply didn’t feel right. Plus I have concrete floors so the texture just wasn’t enough of a contrast visually and certainly wasn’t comfortable.

    It is now in my parent’s screened in porch and looks great, and I’m much happier with plush, pseudo-leopard print rug (promise it looks nicer than I just made it sound…)

    • kim basinger

      Such a great lil article! This is such a helpful lesson. Being a self taught stylist/designer, it’s one of the things I’ve gleaned over time. This is how to bridge the gap between the inspiration(s) & finished space. I even encourage people to look for similarities in architecture when they look for inspiration- proportions matter so much! Learning to lift out of pictures what inspires, & then see if, or how, it can be translated specifically. Thank you for all you do & share Emily!

  3. Janet

    There is just too much on the web when a nice piece of writing like this, useful detail based on vast experience, plus VISUALS, gets two stinking comments. Regarding errors, none in the renovating department come to immediate mind, but in the husband selection area, whooboy.

    • Rose

      Thanks for the chuckle Janet. I was just having a convo. with a good friend about her husband selection yesterday. Oy vey. Window casings seem so timely and expensive to change..until you change husbands. :)

      • Emily

        Totally. It least I’m not a matchmaker; a gallon of paint is an easy fix comparatively. :)

  4. Lori

    My biggest mistake was when I was working for a home builder, and for some insane reason, decided to put the wrong kitchen cabinets in a house. And there were a TON of them. And the supervisor on the job site was one of those tough guys you try to go out of your way to either avoid at all costs or make damn sure you don’t screw up. That was a terrifying phone call to make! But thankfully, he was really nice about it. I decided after that to get the home owners initials on every selection going in after we were finished designing!

    • Emily

      I kinda did that once, too. Did you have to cover the cost? God,i hope not. That sounds VERY expensive. Thanks for sharing. xx

      • Lori

        Thankfully, no! I was working for a builder that did a ton of homes at once, so they took the wrong kitchen cabinets and held them for the next person that wanted that cabinetry. It was snatched up quickly! :)

  5. Sarah

    When we first took ownership of our dilapidated foreclosure, the entire yard was completely overgrown. So that the carpenters could really get anywhere close to the house, we had a landscaper come in to “cut back” some of the brush that was taking over the house. We left him to it, and when we came back that night, everything had been cut back….way back!! Where there were beautiful camelia and rose bushes, we had stumps. I know it’s just plants and they have already grown back a ton, but our house went from looking like a jungle to a desert! We are 3 months in to our restoration, and just now getting to the interior “details,” so I’m sure I’ll have plenty more stories soon!

    • Emily

      Oh thats very sad. But again, thank god totally fixable. There are VERY few mistakes that don’t have some sort of happy ending, thank god. As long as no one dies I try not to freak out, and so far that hasn’t happened.

  6. karen

    ’80s. Peach. High Gloss Paint. Kitchen Cabinets.
    Yes I have learned that trends are best in small doses on small things!

    • Emily

      I’m laughing out loud. Not at you. With you. I’m DYING to see pics. That is so something that I would do – especially at the beginning of the trend before people are sick of it. But i seriously applaud you for trying, its one of those things that could have looked amazing and you can’t really tell til its up. x

  7. Megan

    I am a graphic designer, so I have a tendency to be drawn to patterns, bold colors and contrasts, etc. Sometimes I fall in love with a decor piece or furniture that I love so much, but I fail to see the big picture of how it will fit in with the overall look of a room. It is like trying to force a puzzle piece in when it just doesn’t work! It is something I am learning to overcome by planning ahead, and sitting on a purchase for a few days without jumping the gun. We all make mistakes!

  8. This June I decided to follow the ombre trend – I had seen different pictures on Pinterest where people had painted there stairs in different hues and did that with ours. I HATED it! The paint colors were beautiful and the whole ombre thing I loved and until now I cannot say why I hated the complete look when I was finished. I painted the stairs back to white the same day!

    • Emily

      HA! I almost did that to a clients stairs 2 years ago. they approved it/loved it and I couldn’t stop shaking the feeling that we would regret it. So at the last minute I stopped the painters and just painted it one color. Glad to know maybe I avoided repainting. Sometimes what looks good on Pinterest and in magazines just doesn’t in real life.

  9. Rose

    Too many. Luckily, paint is fixable. The internet has certainly helped with really being able to see how a space might look versus what I see in my head. Thank you for sharing that even the professional, fabulous designers sometimes make a bad call. It is good to know that it is a process that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. I just do my own spaces and luckily my husband has become a really good sport about the whole thing.

  10. Kates

    I had a small half bath in my first home that had this wood paneling from floor to ceiling and instead of keeping it a neutral color I thought it would be fun to give it a barn red feel after I saw this barn on my grandparents old farm (that is currently a vineyard). It was an epic fail. It was awful and to this day I wish I would have repainted it before we moved.

    Just shows that sometimes inspirational images are just that for inspiration.

    • Emily

      I would have absolutely done that, too, and it sounds kinda awesome. :)

  11. Lindsey

    I can not tell you how much of a coincidence/happy moment this post just made me. YESTERDAY I had my walls painted, the first day of a two week paint job on everything in our house, and we just covered the hallways and one bedroom. And the hallways, which I had hoped would be a sort of interesting light grey from my wall swatches (BM ‘going to the chapel’) are basically almost as white and light as the moulding in the house. IT IS SO UGLY.

    I had a sleepless night tossing and turning realizing that I need to explain this to the painters, find a new color etc. I am sitting here this morning waiting for the painters to show up to start my whole schpeal, and like a ray of sunshine your post is all about this.

    THANK YOU for this post!!!

    • Emily

      Oh awesome. Good for you for changing the paint. Is just paint, they’ll do it SOOOO fast and honestly you have NO idea how it will look until its up and then i either love it or its just not right. I’m repainting my dining room tomorrow for the 3rd time in a year. THREE. I just get sick of things so fast so i’m going back to a pretty neutral gray (check out sleigh bells from BM or half moon crest – those are my two go-to’s right now). xx

  12. I cut holes in a client’s ceiling in the wrong place. Just plain wrong, not even what we had talked about. It was a rushed decision and a flat out mistake. I knew it the moment I drove away, so at least I could call the electrician and tell him to put them in the right place, so the wiring didn’t have to happen twice. But of course the ceiling was a texture and not a standard one. It cost me over $600 to have it fixed. And I felt like a complete and total idiot. Because, in that moment, that’s what I was!

    Thanks for sharing. We all have these moments, but having someone “high profile” share theirs helps make it normal for the rest of us!

    • Emily

      THANK you for sharing. When you work fast its just so hard not to make those kinds of mistakes – but you won’t do it again, thats for sure.

  13. Kimberly

    I’m always so stunned how something as seemingly small makes such a large impact. Just looking at the two different photo comparisons and I see how major those window casing paint colors become. My husband and I are planning to build a cabin on our land in Maine, a place to get away too and enjoy the outdoors, and all of this information is so helpful. I’m going to end up sweating every decision I can tell already.

  14. Kat

    I’m finishing up a remodel of our small (now bigger!) house. Storage is a major issue for us, so I think I got carried away with the built-in cabinetry. The master bedroom is what did me in. It looked great in my head, but what we ended up with were two massive, coffin-like cabinets dominating the whole room. Seriously – they ruined what was once a really cute space. You could literally see people recoil from them. They lasted 24 hours. I had to pay to have them torn out. The coffins now are happily ensconced in a neighbor’s garage. Lesson learned. You can have too much storage.

    • Emily

      Thats hilarious. Kudos for ripping them out. xx

  15. S.

    I just laughed so hard! …at your words, not your work tho!
    You are hilarious!

  16. Julia

    I once painted an adorable, but windowless, bathroom a lovely shade of pale green. As I finished the last pass of the roller over the wall, I took a step back (smug-faced with my little makeover accomplishment) and realized right away that it looked like a Soylent Green spill in there. The colour literally radiated out of the room and reflected off the white walls in the hallway. And looking at myself in the mirror? I looked sick – like “I-ate-a-bowl-of-bad-mussels” sick. I had my boyfriend give it a fresh coat of something less offensive – I couldn’t step back into my mistake!

    • Caia

      They say you should never paint a bathroom green. Something about the small space combined with lighting and mirrors makes it a not-so-good thing. It’ll age you 10 years in the mirror.

  17. This isn’t really a costly mistake, but it was definitely embarrassing. We bought some inexpensive solar-power lights to put outside our house along the walkway to the front door. We excitedly installed them right away and thought they’d give off a nice subtle white glow at night. But once the sun went down the first evening, we found out that they were actually multi-color lights that changed colors every few seconds from red to blue to green! Our front yard looked like a roller disco. We exchanged them the next day for better quality WHITE (we double-checked the label this time) solar lights. It’s much better now!

  18. BHH

    Thanks for this post — it is my favorite kind! Not necessarily hearing about mistakes, but learning how to analyze the design in an inspiration photo and translate it into a real time space. Keep ‘em coming!

    • Bee

      I like this kind of post too because for the amateur decorator it’s good to have a comparison between the pretty pictures and the reality.

  19. Bee

    It’s weird how something that looks so nice in a picture can look, um, not so nice in reality. I have a recent mistake that didn’t cost me anything but time and a little embarrassment. My husband and I were giving “a lick and a promise” to our upstairs bathroom and removed an ugly and worn mirror cabinet above the sink. I wanted a girly fancy mirror…shabby chic…so I got one from Craigslist. It was pretty and I repainted it from black to white. My husband carefully hung it and IT LOOKED TERRIBLE…way too pretentious for my dinky little bathroom. But I couldn’t admit my mistake to my husband…and he didn’t say anything (he’s a sweetheart) but conveniently, we couldn’t find the right kind of trim to finish off the backsplash so guess what…the shabby chic mirror wouldn’t work that way either. That I could admit without embarrassment. We ended up getting a plain mirror from Lowe’s which looks great.

    I had paid 35$ for the CL mirror, then I “antiqued” it by sanding off some of the white to show the black paint (and some earlier gold paint) and resold it on CL for 65$. And by the way, I am so over shabby chic.

  20. Heidi

    I love your detailed descriptions… I am totally picking up so much design info from your blog because you are so descriptive (and hilarious) Thank you for being honest & telling it how it is

  21. Marcella

    Thanks for this post. I feel better now, knowing that even talented pros make mistakes too. I purchased a large (8’X10′) living room rug and knew it wasn’t quite right as soon as I laid it down, but it was expensive and I couldn’t return it so I figured I’d work around it and learn to love it. A year later, I hated the thing and felt more and more resentful every time I saw it. So I finally Craigslisted it and put that money toward another rug, which makes me happy every day.

  22. We’ve lived in our house for just over two years and on average I have repainted a room every three months. Our dining room has been two colors (going on it’s third this week Behr Swiss Coffee-LOVE!), the living room has been four different colors and my older two boys room just got it’s second color. Good thing I like painting and do it all myself!

  23. It’s so nice to know that designers make mistakes too!! I was obsessed with wallpapering my extra tall foyer last year but was nervous I would get bored with the paper. I decided to use one of those super ornate stencils instead, which should have been my first alert something was off because I am soooo not a “Hey lets use stencils” kind of person. Anyway my Dad build me a scaffolding and I did the whole thing top to bottom and liked it for about a day. Now everyday I look at it and hate it but am just dreading having to redo the whole thing again. I guess repainting will still be less of a hassle then re-papering.

  24. CT

    For an elementary school renvoation I was working on, I accidentally switched some of my detail call-outs. The Pre-K bathrooms ended up with three purple walls of tile and one white wall instead of the other way around. They ended up keeping it and it’s not bad because it’s for 3 & 4 year-olds, but still – that’s a lot of purple. Every project there’s usually one thing that doesn’t quite get coordinated right or slips through as an accident from the construction documents. Some my firm pays to fix, some we are able to have the contractor pay for. Some the owner never notice and it’s just the nit-picky designers who notice it. At any rate, mistakes do happen — for me, it’s more about how you deal with them & making sure to keep the project (and client’s) best interest in mind. Thanks for sharing your story. It’s nice to be real. Cheers – CT

  25. Emily

    We had the Red Paisley bedding from Pottery Barn and decided to use the buttery yellow color from the pattern for the walls. Every single morning it was like waking up in a Spanish cocktail party. The moment our eyes opened we were AWAKE. It lasted 6 days and then we switched to a less-offensive light sand color. Lots of labor but easy fix.

  26. Chenell Tannure

    Most of my mistakes actually stem from trying to make something work that just doesn’t. I see that it doesn’t work, but just keep trying to add things that make the mistake make sense, and end up with a room that DOES work…but is NOTHING like my vision for the room…and sometimes nothing that even fits my own taste. I then ending up re-doing the whole thing. Such a waste of time and money!

    I have had to learn to just call a spade a spade as soon as I know it’s wrong, but I still suffer from the temptation. I think I weirdly enjoy the challenge of finding the context in which something can be great.

    • Elizabeth

      Oh my gosh, Chennell. I know exactly what you mean. Literally, it’s like you are in my head. I am going through this right now. I bought a rug described online as “emerald” but it’s really more like teal, one of my least favorite colors. Anyhoo, did I return it? NO. I bought coordinating throw pillows HAHA. I should do as you suggest and call a spade a spade. Thanks for the dose of reality.

  27. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing! It’s immensely comforting to know that everyone in the business makes mistakes sometimes. However, that’s tough to remember when you get that sinking, gut-wrenching feeling in the pit of your stomach the moment you realize the color, size, scale, etc., is just plain wrong. Crying baby feeling for sure! However, I’ve come to accept that mistakes are both inevitable, and serve as a great learning tool. After the crying baby feeling subsides, you do whatever you can to make it right, and your next project will be even better because of it. (As for me, I now only use a 25′ tape measure, never a 10′. I’ve learned (the hard way) to never leave a fraction of an inch to guesswork, even in early design stages). And P.S., the finished room in NY looks fantastic! Bravas all around.

  28. Susie

    My biggest mistake was buying red corduroy slipcovers for our IKEA couch and chair. We’d been using off-white ones, but I thought since it was winter, the red would look warm and “Christmas-y.” Looking at that hideous red furniture made me so miserable that I switched the slipcovers back after one day.

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  30. For what it’s worth, there’s one pseudo-mistake that I feel like turned out really well for me. I got a bunch of free paint at a local paint drive, and I combined all the bright teal-aqua-turquoise colors and painted my small home office walls in that shade. Everyone who saw it said it was way too bright and dark to be cute, but now that I have all the furniture and décor in there it’s actually really cute and calming and fun but not overwhelming at all.

    However, that is NOT the way it always goes. :) I went out of my way to get this expensive Amy Butler rug when we first bought our house, because I had fallen in love with it in a store. I even snagged a decent price on it, but it’s just not right. The colors in it are really off-trend and hard to decorate with—it’s this deep forest green that NO upholstery today matches, and the blue and gray are lovely but the gray is too violet to actually paint to match. And the rust and mustard accents are kinda 90s too color-wise. So nothing that makes me happy in today’s designs looks good or pulls the right shades out of it. It’s just a mess.

    Going to relegate it to a bedroom and buy that $300 Ikea Stockholm stripey rug that you guys put in Orlando’s place instead!

  31. Tara

    So many mistakes I’ve made. I’m a mom who loves to look at beautiful spaces and know nada about design. Well, I decided “had to have” the overscale English Roll Arm couch from RH. My family room (in a 100 year old house) is really a converted eat-in kitchen table area. You know, small and right next to the peninsula. Well my 92″ length 48″ deep sofa is a monster! My kids splash gogurts on it every day! It screams at me every time I walk in the room! Lesson learned the hard way – don’t underestimate the power of proportion.

  32. Shauna

    I have an exterior stucco bakyard wall (1920’s Spanish house) that I had painted rich/ bright green along along side our beautiful blue tiled swimming pool. I was waiting for a wall of greenery to grow in/ cover the wall, so I thought the green would look great. Wrong! It’s looked like space aliens splattered across our backyard. It was horrible.

    $700 bucks later, the wall was painted back white (like the house). Now with the plants growing in front it, it’s looks great. There is a thing a too much decorating.

    I also think accepting mistakes and changing them FAST is important. Don’t force yourself to love something that your heart knows is bad. Fix it and move on.

    Nice to know it happens to us all.

    PS Congrats on baby. I have 5 and 9 mth old boys and a creative business I own/ love. Life falls apart at first, but it comes back. Hire all the help you need, do it on your own terms, don’t judge yourself! xo

  33. i am so grateful that you shared this! i feel like i make design mistakes every time i work on any room! the more experienced i get, the less i tend to make, but it still happens often. it’s good to know that it happens to the best. :)

    and you’re so right about an image you love possibly just being a good photo!

  34. Ugh, ALL the time. Thank you for this, it’s good to know I’m not just thinking of wacky ideas that are better on paper. It’s so good to Photoshop over a photo before committing to a palette or detail. Luckily, I’ve mostly made mistakes on my own home, or caught them in time to not be liable for a client’s.

  35. I love this post. Like, a lot. I could write a dissertation on all of my dreadful mistakes I’ve made.I want to stab my eyeballs out with a fork when I look at half of the pics in my portfolio. I made many mistakes with taking on clients that were complete whack asses with unrealistic expectations, but I was so desperate for work I took em. Oh, and um being on HGTV Design Star…..pretty big mistake for me as well, whereas you obviously killed it. SO far, I think you are doing pretty good. $800 bucks is well worth the shot of that sexy caulker.

  36. In our first house, the master bedroom had an exposed red brick wall. Being our first house, it was also my first time picking paint colors and I was SO excited not to have “rental white” walls! We wanted a rich mid-toned brown, which we thought we had picked… But the undertone turned out to be green so the room looked an awful mustard/khaki brown! Just AWFUL! We woke up feeling like we were in an Army barracks and should drop and do 20! My poor husband had to repaint the whole room again (and it was a big room). I have since learned the trick of looking down the paint swatch strip to see the darkest/most saturated color to pick up what undertone it has. It made future rooms much easier to pick paint for!

  37. April

    Last year I was a project manager for the build-out of a 30,000 square foot office space (that I also would be working in when complete). It was a crazy short schedule with a super small budget and the first time I had ever been involved in a project that size, so many lessons were learned :) But I’ll share just one…

    The interior designer at the architect’s firm had come up with 5 different palette combos for walls/flooring/millwork. Without knowing what others chose, five of us selected the same one: vibrant, saturated teal/steel blue/acid yellow/cool gray accents walls with otherwise cool white walls. I knew it was risky but I was willing to take a chance because I dreaded facing 30,000 sq ft of beige everyday and I had final say, so I went for it. When I approved the floor plans for the paint and flooring, I didn’t realize that the vibrant teal or yellow walls (it varied throughout the office) with matching floor tiles would not only be on the exterior of the offices but on the interiors as well. I thought I was giving people a splash of color along some common walls with a band of coordinating carpet in front; instead, several people ended up with really saturated teal or yellow walls and wall-to-wall solid teal or yellow matching carpet INSIDE their offices. Yellow is a tough sell for most (I love it), and I can tell you that yellow carpet in a commercial space is a terrible idea. The elevator lobby was done in stripes of the same carpet tiles and I had the yellow replaced immediately after they were installed, they were already showing marks with a few people stepping on them in a day. Because we were on a tight deadline and tight budget, they chose not to repaint/recarpet the teal and yellow offices, so I heard about them almost daily for several months after we moved in. While I really liked the designer’s vision, the concept didn’t translate to a livable space. He/She was looking at the office as a whole, which is important for developing a cohesive aesthetic, but you also need to consider each space as it’s own entity, since an individual office is occupied by one or two people 8+ hours daily. Walking past yellow to get to coffee can be a happy wake-up moment, whereas working in a solid yellow room all day every day can feel oppressive.

    I actually left that job a few months ago to study interior design, crossing my fingers that I someday find the right opportunity to successfully use yellow :)

  38. I’d love your opinion on an issue we had and still live with (eerrr!) everyday. Our contractor selected the cabinet makers we were to work with. Their designer came out to walk through the plans and specifics with me which included an L-shaped banquette in the kitchen. He knew we would be adding a 3 in. custom cushion to the banquette seating. The banquette sits at 20″ from the ground, with a 3/4″ lip (he said we need to keep cushion in place) and a 3 ” cushion. It is the most uncomfortable seating i’ve ever been on! we hate it. my contractor refused to fix it. the cabinet designer said we signed off on it that way and it would cost us $3K to re-build it! As a client, it is so frustrating when a designer makes such a huge mistake and takes no claim. How am i to know what height this should be at when i have a professional telling me these should be the specs??? He does cabinetry everyday. i, do not. The bench is so high an adults knees hit the underside of the table. my kids won’t even sit there. it makes me so sad everyday and i wish we could afford to rip it out! what would you have done?
    thanks Em, great post!

  39. Grace


    I dont really get what you mean by the painted moulding making the whole house look “busy”.

    Is it because it distracts the whole interior?

    The modified house look awesome by the way. Bright and airy is my cup of tea.

  40. Courtney

    Light chocolate brown paint over the entire first floor of my home, including up the stairs to the open upstairs hallway. Add dark wood blinds to that, and you can only imagine how dark it was. Hubs would not agree to repaint or remove/replace wood blinds. Luckily I’m a lamp girl, so with lamplight it had a cozy, snuggy feel. Unfortunately, we lived in So. CA at the time where that look isn’t very “in”. Happily, when it came time to sell, the new owners just LOVED it!! Who’da thought??

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  42. Theresa

    Oh I can so relate to this. I had new kitchen cabinets put in that were a cafe colored maple. I loved them and I thought a fresh limey green color would look terrific with them. Unfortunately once the paint was on the walls it looked more the color of a dill pickle. I hated it from the first moment I saw it. I spent a week trying to convince myself that it wasn’t that bad before giving up and having it repainted a darker, not quite hunter, green. Turns out I love that color even more than the lime I was going for. While I didn’t love paying to have it repainted, I know if I didn’t I would be miserable every time I walked in the kitchen.

  43. joy

    I once painted a small bathroom orange. At the time it seemed like a good idea since it would be in such a small space. After I was done, I realized that it was bright, traffic cone orange. My mom said, when you need to go, it’s like an emergency. Good thing after I mixed it with some leftover white paint, it became a nice muted peachy color that worked great with the green paint of the attached bedroom. That bathroom had a very thick coat of paint on the walls.

  44. Bea

    Just for the record, “Brava” is NOT a pretentious way if saying “Bravo.” It is the feminine form of “Bravo” and the correct way to express appreciation of a job well done to a woman in Italian. “Bravo” for men, “Brava” for women. There is nothing pretentious about using a foreign language properly.

    Of course, you could make a case that using “Brava/Bravo” instead of saying “Good job” is pretentious, but that’s an argument for another day.

  45. I love this post! It’s so helpful to hear you explain what’s wrong with the wrong picture and what’s right with the right picture.

  46. Susan

    As a thirteen year old budding interior designer, my wonderful mother let me re-do the one and only bathroom in our house in pop art craziness!

    It was a cottagey/early American/antique filled house, BTW.

    I was totally into Peter Max- of course I was, it was the 70s and I was a newly minted teenager-and I picked his black and white, sketch drawing-ish wallpaper, and paired it with PURPLE towels and floor rug. Tile was plain white
    ( as per the parents) and I talked my dad into painting the ceiling purple, too.

    If you wanted to know what it felt like to be on drugs, one step into that 5X7 bathroom would do it-the pop art paper, the color on the ceiling, the cobalt accessories!! I now wonder how long it took the people who eventually bought the house to rip it all down, LOL but I also appreciate a mom who really let me do my thing-at her expense. She was the best :)

  47. Yvonne

    Ahhh it was so encouraging to read this. I have ambitions to change careers and become a designer but then sometimes I make a wrong choice in my own house and I have serious doubts that I could actually do this…though I know I am a designer at heart since I was little. This was helpful. Thanks

  48. Once, when I was a design assistant, I interpreted my boss’s measurement of a ceiling height in a master bathroom as 8’6″ instead of 8′ 1/2″. And, it meant that the medicine cabinet we selected did not fit with the light we selected. It could have been easily remedied with a smaller medicine cabinet and/or light, but the client was furious because she didn’t get the design we promised. I have never forgotten to verify measurements since then.

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