9 Common Design Mistakes First-Time Home Buyers Make (and How to Avoid Them)

So, you just bought your first home. Congratulations! This is a major step and commitment—especially if you’re someone who historically moves once a year into a new apartment! While there are so many joys when it comes to home ownership, there are also a lot of challenges, especially in the design process. And plenty of mistakes to be made!

While new home design mistakes are par for the course, we surveyed our network expert designers to share some of the most common design mistakes first-time home buyers make so that we can save you some grief! They shared some amazing interior design ideas, with tips on how to avoid these common design mistakes.

Read on for 9 new home design mistakes and tips on how to avoid them!

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Don’t: Buy All of Your Furniture at Once

When you move from an apartment to a house, you’ll likely have a lot more space to fill—and with that comes a need for more furniture. But fight the urge to buy new furniture all at once! You don’t need to buy everything you want or need in one trip to the store or even one week!

When you rush to fill up and furnish your space, you may find that you buy pieces of furniture just to have it instead of taking the time to find stuff you really want and love. Plus, it helps to take some time to acquaint yourself with your new space so you can really discover what you need. (You might be surprised to discover that something you thought you needed right when you moved in doesn’t feel as necessary a month or two later!) “People often don’t think of furniture as an investment, but if they did they could get pieces that are more durable and would last them longer,” says Modsy Designer Katelin Rae S.

Do: Methodically Plan Out Your Furniture Needs

Prioritize the essentials—like a bed, dresser, sofa, and coffee table—and then save for or plan out the other pieces like accent furniture, decor, and textiles. Modsy designer Rebecca S. also recommends decorating with future plans in mind. If you and your partner just bought your first home but plan on having kids in a couple of years, think kid-friendly when it comes to sofas and chairs! Need a little extra guidance? Check out our new home furniture buying guide. Our series of interior design buying guides will also help you as you look for specific pieces of furniture or look to design specific rooms throughout your home!

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Don’t: Buy a Full Matching Set of Furniture

When outfitting your living room or bedroom, buying matching sets of furniture may seem tempting. It’s easy, since you can buy everything you need all at once and know that it matches, minimizing the design choices you have to make. But a full set of matching furniture can make a room look generic at best and cheap at worst due to the lack of variety in texture, color, and style. And sets are often on the larger size, so a full set may feel cramped in the average living room or bedroom.

Do: Buy One Piece at a Time

Buying furniture pieces one by one assures you’re getting what works for your needs, your style, and your space. It also gives a room a more polished and curated look—as opposed to it looking like you just walked into a furniture store. So, instead of buying a full set, start with the major pieces of furniture (a sofa in the living room and a bed in the bedroom), then build out pieces from there. However, don’t be afraid to buy a matching set of nightstands, end tables, or even accent chairs if you like a symmetrical look! A pair of something can be quite nice—just avoid a full matching room. If you’re not sure where to start in the furniture design process, our room checklists will guide you through the essentials, along with the furniture and decor that will help take your room’s design to the next level!

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Don’t: Immediately Make Big Decisions

It’s quite common to buy a home and want to make some updates or design changes right away so that your new space better aligns with your personal style. Whether that’s changing out light fixtures, painting the walls, or just buying new furniture, it’s tempting to dive right in. But we recommend taking a bit of time—even just a week or two—to live in your new house before making any big decisions or design choices. This gives you time to live with the flow of your home, assess your needs, and establish your style within the home will save you from making costly mistakes!

Modsy Designer Katie W. says she sees a lot of people immediately buying new sofas for their new homes without planning. “So many people end up with a sofa that’s too big or doesn’t fit with their other pieces. Or they quickly decide it’s ugly or not durable enough for their lifestyle.” So, don’t rush into a whole new look without thinking it through and seeing how the home will come together as a whole.

Do: Take Time to Live in Your Home Before Making Big Purchases and Changes

Take your time making big decisions—especially large furniture purchases or changes like painting the walls or updating the flooring. (More on painting next!) Spend time in your new house to see how you use it, learn the natural light patterns, discover how you navigate the space, and even where you spend the most time. This will help guide your big decisions and prioritize any changes or updates you want to make!

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Don’t: Paint Right Away

Many people want to paint the walls of their new house right away—or even before they move in. And we get it. From a practical standpoint, it’s much easier to paint an empty room, and fresh paint gives you a lovely backdrop when settling into your home. But when you do this, you lose the opportunity to get to know how the natural light plays in your home and how that can impact the way paint colors look in your space.

The thing is, paint color can look great in the morning light—but by late afternoon, it might have a totally different tint because of the way the natural light looks in your space. Plus, did you know that what’s outside of your windows, like a wooded backyard or the neighbor’s house, can impact the way colors look inside your house? A backyard full of greenery can cast a green hue on your interior walls and floor. And a neighbor’s sunny yellow house can give everything a yellow tint. There’s no way of knowing what those factors will be without living in your home for a bit!

Do: Take Time to Understand Your Home’s Lighting

Take at least a week to see how the natural light looks in your home throughout the day. Spend time observing the morning, afternoon, and evening light—as well as any light reflections from outside or from other flooring or fixtures in your space. From there, you can decide on paint colors for the rooms in your home that not only look good from room to room and create a beautiful color story in your home but that take into account these outside factors.

And you don’t have to take months and months on these observations. A week will do just fine! And then you can move forward with painting to your heart’s content! (Bonus: moving usually results in at least a few scuffed walls—so waiting to paint will save you from those pesky touch-ups!)

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Don’t: Rush into Un-Researched DIYs

We know we already said not to make any big decisions right away—but we’re going to reiterate our point specifically for DIY-ers: Don’t rush into un-researched DIYs! It may be tempting to rip out dated kitchen cabinets the first day you move in, but chances are this will result in some headaches and mistakes! Plus, there’s a good portion of the population that loves starting a project. But finishing it? Not so much. When you rush into a DIY project, you’re more likely to make a good start but then put it to the side when life gets busy, which can make the project go on for months without finishing it!

Do: Have a Plan

Rather than rushing in, live in your space for a while to get an idea about what you want, what you need, and what’s realistic to do yourself versus what you should hire out. Take time to research your DIYs before starting them to make sure you have everything you need, and then budget more time and money than you think you need! Having a plan the whole way through will help you see it through from beginning to end. (Are you starting to sense a theme in all of these mistakes and tips? It’s all about taking your time!)


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Don’t: Push All Your Furniture Against the Wall

Ok, this isn’t a mistake that only first-time homebuyers make—this is one that people across the board struggle with! Many people have the instinct, when arranging furniture, to push everything against the wall. While this isn’t a cardinal sin, in many spaces the layout will look better with some furniture pulled away from the wall. (Also called “floating” your furniture.)

The thing is, pushing all of your furniture against the wall can make it feel thrown together, like you just shoved the furniture into the space. Contrary to popular belief, this can also actually make a room feel smaller! You might think that leaving as much open floor space as possible in the center of the room will open the space up, but a room full of furniture-lined walls actually visually shrinks a room. So, even floating a sofa six inches away from the wall creates some visual breathing room.

“I’ve had several interactions with clients who see a blank space and think they need to push all of the furniture against a wall—especially a sofa. But ‘floating’ a sofa can often create a more successful floor plan,” says Hope C., Modsy designer. “And adding a console behind it actually gives you additional surface and storage space!”

Do: Get Creative With Your Layout

Don’t be afraid to try a few different layouts after you move into your new home! Moving is overwhelming, and many people end up just leaving furniture where the movers put it. Instead, try moving stuff around and take a few chances. Even if it seems like a certain arrangement won’t work, give it a shot—it might actually look good! In a large living room, especially, it helps to float furniture so the seating zones can feel cohesive and feel balanced. Check out our layout guides for some creative layout ideas for bedrooms and living spaces.

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Don’t: Fill Every Corner of Your House with Furniture

When you have more space to feel, many people’s instinct is to fill every corner. But when it comes to good interior design practices, it’s actually best to leave some breathing room. Filling every corner and empty wall with furniture, art, photos, and decor can make a space feel suffocated and small.

Social media can leave you with a lot of pressure to make your home picture-perfect within a week of moving in. But over-filling your home just to make it feel “finished” so you can post photos will just result in you feeling like there is too much clutter later on, and you’ll end up having to edit down your possessions. So, save yourself some time down the road and keep your furniture and decor edited from the get-go!

Do: Leave Negative Space and Breathing Room

This might not seem intuitive—but negative space and empty walls can look just as intentional as designed spaces. In fact, it helps a room’s design to build in some breathing room. So, even if you’re a maximalist, not every space and corner of your home needs to be maxed out. When designing your new home, take your time. Assess what you really need, and then plan out your furniture and decor.

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Don’t: Neglect Designing Private Spaces

When designing a new house, many people prioritize their living rooms, entryways, and dining rooms first. And that makes sense—these are the “public” areas of your home, where you host guests and the spaces where you tend to spend most of your waking hours. So, it’s natural to want to fix up those spaces first! But once these spaces are finished, many homeowners end up feeling burnt out and don’t have enough energy (or budget) left for “private” spaces like bedrooms, home offices, or bathrooms. But these are very important spaces in your home to design!

Do: Design Your Bedroom Early

Instead of spending all your creative energy on your living room, entryway, and dining room, save a bit of time, energy, and money for your own personal spaces—especially our bedroom. Might we even suggest prioritizing these spaces and working on them first?? We’ve seen way too many clients design beautiful living rooms while their bedrooms are filled with mismatched furniture and boxes. The way we see it, designing your perfect bedroom, bathroom, and home office is actually a form of self-care! These rooms give you a space to retreat to and enjoy. In fact, working on your bedroom first will actually help rejuvenate you as you tackle other rooms in your home. Think of it as taking care of yourself so you can take care of others!

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Don’t: Keep Old Furniture Just Because You Have It

Buying a home is no small financial feat. And after closing costs and moving, you may feel like you don’t have money in the budget for new furniture. So, you keep using that dresser you got at a garage sale in college, the sofa you thrifted in your mid-20s, and the bedframe you bought from IKEA. That works for a while—but Modsy designer Rebecca S. says she sees a lot of clients who have held onto secondhand and cheap furniture they acquired during their college years—even when their budget allowed an upgrade. Because, why replace it if you already have it and it works just fine? The answer: because you deserve better.

The reality is, the furniture you bought in college or for your first apartment has probably seen better days. Some pieces may even be beyond redemption—but you’ve gotten so used to seeing it in your space, you don’t realize how dilapidated it really is. Lack of comfort aside (because that sofa from your 20s really isn’t that comfortable), a mismatched collection of old furniture can cheapen the look of your beautiful new home. It may even make it seem like you haven’t developed the more refined taste that we know you have!

Do: Give Yourself a Fresh Start

Rather than holding onto all those old pieces, give yourself a fresh start in your new house. Get rid of your old college furniture for high-quality pieces that will last and are reflective of your personal style. It likely won’t happen all at once—so you may have to live in the “in-between” time for a while. But it will be so worth it to give yourself the gift of a home that’s beautiful and thoughtfully designed!

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Modsy 2018 Holiday Gift Guides – Gifts For Everyone on Your List

Modsy Gift Guide

Tis the season for gifting! We all know the feeling when you find the perfect gift for that special someone on your list – a sense of pure accomplishment!

But more often than not, you might find yourself racking your brain for gift ideas and coming up empty handed. We know the feeling.

To help you “sleigh” the gift exchange this year, we rounded up some of our favorite gifts for all kinds of home owners and homebodies in one place. So no matter if your special someone just purchased a new home or is expecting a new addition, we’ve got gifts galore that are sure to delight!

Read on for this year’s Modsy gift guides for homes of all shapes and sizes!

Modsy Gift GuidesGifts for New Homeowners

Welcome home! If someone you know just purchased a new home, you’re in luck. Not only does this mean a housewarming party in your near future, it also makes gifting that much easier. Peek some of our favorite gifts for new homeowners below!

Shop Gifts for New Homeowners

1. Cookbook Stand

Now that they finally have a kitchen of their own (and – hopefully – a dining room to go with it) help them make the most of it with a cookbook stand. Hopefully they’ll take the subtle hint and invite you over for a home-cooked meal!

2. Ceramic Vase with Olive Spray

Historically a symbol of peace, extend a faux olive branch to your new homeowners this holiday. Complete with a matching ceramic vase, this is the perfect way to instantly warm up any new home.

3. Oil Splatter Lacquer Tray

Like a piece of art, but for their coffee table. This splatter tray is perfect for serving cocktails, organizing magazines, and even for serving breakfast in bed.

4. Ona Large Pitcher

Sleek and stylish, you might mistake this pitcher as a work of art on loan from the MoMA. New homeowners will love serving drinks in this statement pitcher. You can even suggest they use it as a vase for an extra eclectic touch!

5. Velvet Throw Pillows

New homes often take a while before they feel fully designed. Gift these plush velvet pillows to any new homeowner in your life and watch as they instantly polish up any space.

6. Cozy Up Doormat

Nothing says welcome home like a doormat! The perfect housewarming gift, this Cozy Up doormat is both stylish and functional.

7. Fold Gold Serving Platter

Serve up a pop of texture with this gold hammered tray. The raised edges make for easy set down/pick up and add a distinctly eclectic touch.

8. Cocktail Glasses

Help your new homeowners ease into their place by gifting them these sophisticated and stylish cocktail glasses. A step above your usual glassware, the textured stem makes these an instant favorite for 5 o’clock drinks any time.

9. Modsy Design Package

Living out of boxes is certainly no fun. If your new homeowner friend needs a little help cracking the design of their new pad, a Modsy Design Package might be the perfect solution. Shop our gift cards here!

Modsy Gift GuidesGifts for Empty Nesters

On the other hand, you might know some folks whose kids have flown the coop and are now looking at a new phase of their life as empty nesters. Aside from rethinking their entire home (and turning those extra bedrooms into home gyms) help your empty nester celebrate this new phase of their life with some of our favorite gifts below!

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1. Man Ray Chess Set

Based on the original design by Dada-Surrealist artist Man Ray, this chess set is the perfect gift for lovers of modern art and design. Each piece in the set is comprised of an abstract geometric form, making this both a game and a work of art!

2. Acropolis Bookends

Marble bookends wrapped in gold foil are the perfect addition to any bibliophile’s collection. Empty nesters can use them as simple decor or to hold your old photo albums.

3. Wall Frame Triptych

What do you get the parent who doesn’t want anything? Framed photos of yourself always do the trick! This trio has room to house photos of the whole family.

4. Salon Black Tray

Add a little French bistro flair to your empty nesters’ home. With its unique caned surface, this serving tray is sure to spice up any interior.

5. Large Brass Bowl

You really can’t go wrong with a beautiful decorative bowl. Especially this brass number that sports a gorgeously antiqued exterior.

6. Brass Candle Wick Trimmer

Leave it to the empty nesters to have all the bits, bobbles, and gadgets that take a simple house into a well-collected home. This brass candle wick trimmer is the perfect piece to not only extend the life of their new favorite soy wax candle, but also looks pretty sophisticated on the coffee table.

7. Empoli Tall Rectangular Vase

Now that the kids are out of the house, your empty nesters can feel free to display beautiful and fragile ceramics anywhere they like! This handcrafted vase is the perfect addition to a credenza or fireplace mantle.

8. Islay Whiskey Set

You don’t have to love whiskey to add this gorgeous whiskey set to your living room (although it certainly helps). Featuring a decanter, two tumblers, a serving jug, and walnut accessories, this whiskey set is the perfect addition to any empty nesters’ home bar.

9. Marble Tray

Pure and simple, this marble tray is a classic and beautiful addition to any home. Your empty nesters can serve up a gorgeous charcuterie board, keep remotes corralled on the coffee table, or keep the sugar and cream close by for their morning coffee.

Modsy Gift GuidesGifts for Renters

The best gifts for renters are usually small, easy to move, and functional. Please don’t gift your renter friends a new marble coffee table – they probably can’t take it with them to their next place and that will just be awkward for the both of you. Instead, consider one of these gifts from our Renter Gift Guide below!

Shop Gifts for Renters

1. White Sand Hour Glass

Looking for a cute (but functional) piece of decor for your renter? Try an hourglass. These guys are fun, compact, and kind of useful. Easy to pack up, your renter won’t have to stress about moving it from place to place with them in the future.

2. Faux Green Echeveria

One of the biggest takeaways from our 2018 Trend Report? Plants are in! And not just any plants – faux foliage is trending big time. We love this faux succulent arrangement to bring some greenery to your renter’s abode, without the stress of caring for a real plant.

3. Amber and Cardamom Soy Candle

The best way to add a little ambiance to any interior is with a scented candle. This soy number from CB2 is equal parts spicy and woody. It comes in a cute ceramic vessel to boot, making it useful even after all the wax is gone.

4. Black Band Floor Basket

Often times storage is at a premium in rented apartments. Baskets are a great place to stash excess clutter, and we love the minimal style and sturdy construction of this floor basket.

5. Mantis Wall Sconce

When it comes to added lighting, a plug-in sconce is a renter’s best friend. The Mantis sconce features a 360 degree swivel and is a great way to save floor space in small apartments.

6. Bermuda Pouf

Not only did this pouf make our best seller list, it is also one of the most versatile pieces of decor out there. Use it as an extra seat, a foot rest, or even topped with a tray as a side table in a pinch. Renters are sure to love this pouf!

7. Smeg Retro Electric Kettle

If your renter can still recall their collage days with ease, this electric kettle will be a welcome upgrade to an old standby. Perfect for making a cup of tea (or even top ramen in a pinch), this retro kettle also looks good doing it.

8. Chemex Coffee Maker

One of the simplest ways to brew coffee, the Chemex also yields a delicious result. A staple for all instagrammable kitchens, your renter can also use their new Chemex as a vase for beautiful flower arrangements in a pinch!

9. Faux Mohair Faux Sherpa Throw

Help your renter stay cozy year-round with this faux sherpa throw. It’s an ultra plush upgrade that features a minimal plaid pattern for extra style.

Modsy Gift GuidesGifts for Expecting Parents

Soon-to-be parents on your gift list? When it comes to babies and nurseries, it can be extra tricky to find the right gift as many key purchases are highly personal. Our gift guide features a few tried and true gift ideas as well as some outside the box options you may not have thought of.

Shop Gifts for Expecting Parents

1. Round Belly Baskets

Help your expecting giftees conquer clutter in a cute way with these baskets. The natural and white colors pair perfectly with any nursery theme and can still be used years from now in a toddler room or even the living space.

2. Matte Black Picture Frames

You really can’t go wrong with a nice set of frames to help expecting parents put their precious memories on display. These matte black options can be hung or propped and go with any style of decor.

3. Nespresso

Because sleep will no longer be their friend. Give your expecting parents the gift of an easy-to-make espresso to help them get through the long days after the sleepless nights.

4. Emily & Meritt Star Ceiling Mobile

This magical mobile is the perfect gift to crown any crib. Perfect for boys, girls, and gender-neutral nurseries alike, it’s a gift that they’ll be sure to use.

5. Faux Mohair Sherpa Throw

Help your expecting parents stay super cozy with this faux sherpa throw. It’s an ultra plush upgrade that can be tossed in the wash for easy cleaning.

6. Kids Books

You can’t go wrong with some cute and classic kid books. These are just a few of our picks, filled with amazing illustrations to delight parents and kiddos alike!

7. Nuuk Sheepskin Throw

So soft and plush, you may decide to keep this throw for yourself. Like snuggling into a cloud, this is sure to make a fantastic backdrop for all the adorable baby photos soon to come!