When I first moved out on my own, I had wild visions of bringing my Pinterest boards and favorite Architectural Digest spreads to life. I bought marble trays, artwork, coffee table books, and crystals for every room in my pursuit of an enviable space I could proudly showcase on Instagram or TikTok. But the joke was on me because my decorating ambitions quickly fizzled out and I was left exactly where I’d started—but with a bunch of stuff I didn’t need.
It took some time (almost three years, but who’s counting?) for me to realize that I was focusing on all the wrong things when it came to furnishing my space. In fact, the things I did try only worked against me and made my life more difficult.
That being said, while I’ve made my fair share of noob interior design mistakes, the good news is that you don’t have to. Whether you’re getting ready to live on your own for the first time or looking to revamp your current space, I invite you to learn from my mistakes. These are the five interior design tips I wish I’d known before moving into my own place.
1. Aesthetic is nice, but comfort is key.
Nothing in your home is of much use to you if you can’t enjoy it comfortably. Sure, that gorgeous but completely impractical accent chair might look nice for photos or entertaining, but when it comes time to put your feet up and unwind for the night, you won’t be able to do so easily. Comfort is truly key, especially when it comes to furniture. So if you’re torn between comfort and aesthetics, opt for the former option. Remember: You can always bring in accessories—like throw pillows, blankets, flowers, coffee table books, etc.—to make a room look nicer.
2. Focus on one thing at a time.
The old saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day” applies here. The truth is, most of us don’t have the money to shell out for an overnight home makeover. However, what we can do is focus on getting one thing done at a time. If your living room needs a revamp, start off by repainting the walls or applying fresh wallpaper accordingly. From there, you can start shopping for a new couch, hang new wall art, and so on. By focusing on one thing at a time, you can better prioritize and bring your vision to life without destroying your bank account.
3. Don’t buy unnecessary items.
I understand just how tempting it can be to buy every home decor item you see on TikTok or Instagram, but let me tell you: it’s not worth it. The same can be said for those impulse buys you convince yourself you need to have. Unnecessary or “filler” items will only cause clutter in your home, which is the last thing you want. Instead, save up for those investment pieces you actually need or have a designated spot in mind before you purchase that item.
4. Infuse your space with brightness.
There’s no denying that dark and moody colors are a vibe sometimes, but too much can easily dampen your mood and make your space seem small and cramped. While you don’t have to totally hop aboard the minimalist train, infusing your space with some light, airy colors will make the room feel bigger and uplifting. I’m a huge fan of light, warm-toned paint colors like creamy whites, light beiges, or pinky nudes to set an inviting tone. Then opt for brightly-colored furniture or accessories to bring your space to life.
5. Don’t be afraid to blend styles.
As is the case with all types of self-expression, there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to interior design tips. I used to think that I had to find one style and stick to it for my whole house, but I’ve now come to realize that blending styles can be even better. Mixing styles you love is the perfect way to showcase your personality throughout your home. In my case, my furniture is contemporary, while all of my accessories fit a modern glam vibe. This helps me amp up the drama and infuse some femininity into my home without overcrowding it. So don’t be afraid to mix and match interior design styles—if you like them, they’ll work together.