The 6 most common decorating mistakes that first-time homeowners make

Homeowners have revealed their six biggest first-time decorating mistakes and regrets...

Recently, many Brits have been taking advantage of their spare time at home to redecorate. Of course, some home DIY projects have been more successful than others. To try and help others avoid making the same mistakes they have, 1,757 British homeowners have shed light on their biggest first-time decorating mistakes* with These were the biggest pitfalls...


The biggest mistake first-time decorators make is carrying out work before planning, with 84% of people making this mistake with their first property. And it can potentially be quite an expensive mistake to make!

As they found out the hard way, it’s vital to plan before getting to work. You can avoid unnecessary setbacks by firstly deciding on a budget, and then deciding on themes, colours, furniture and more. This includes measuring for your room’s dimensions and any spaces you’d like to fill. Making a list of tasks can also help to keep track of everything, and there’s nothing as satisfying as ticking off tasks!

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Another very common mistake was using the incorrect equipment or supplies when decorating their first home – 82% of Brits have used the wrong tools, paints or primers etc to try and do a job. Oops!

If in doubt, seek advice and ask a professional. It's bound to cost much less than fixing a mistake!


Overcrowding a room is the third biggest mistake, with 75% guilty of it. Three quarters of Brits wanted to fill the room with as much of their personalities as possible, but in doing so making it too busy.

It's better to take your time to shop around and to find what’s best for the room, avoiding cheap online deals that appear great on the surface (unless you’re 100% sure!), and avoiding filling a room with everything in one go. Remember, less is more! Avoid a uniform furniture set as it can make your space look too much like a showroom. Mix and match with different styled items, and don’t forget to check your trusty second-hand store for some unique steals – second-hand stores can hold some fantastic bargains and they're full of one-off gems.

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Nearly three quarters of people (73%) choose the wrong lighting, resulting in rooms that are too dark. Lighting is of course key, especially for rooms that don't get a lot of natural daylight.


The majority of people (70%) also regret overspending on new furniture, instead of sniffing out better deals, buying second-hand, or waiting for sales. They wished they had waited to find pieces for less, or found ways to update furniture with just a new cover or throw, or by swapping furniture between rooms for a different look. You’d be surprised how refreshing moving the sofa or table to a different place can be, plus it costs nothing!

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And lastly, another common mistake was focusing on cosmetics over function (69% of people fell for this mistake). If you've spotted an idea on Pinterest, like a waterfall tap or countertop basin for example, try the idea out first to make sure it works as good as it looks (and you might find that a chic countertop basin splashes more than other designs!).

Interestingly, the study found that only 28% regretted a bold colour scheme. See here for some paint colour inspiration...

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*Survey of 1,757 British homeowners across a range of ages and locations was conducted between 01/06/20 – 15/06/20.

Lotte Brouwer

Lotte is the Digital Editor for Livingetc, and has been with the website since its launch. She has a background in online journalism and writing for SEO, with previous editor roles at Good Living, Good Housekeeping, Country & Townhouse, and BBC Good Food among others, as well as her own successful interiors blog. When she's not busy writing or tracking analytics, she's doing up houses, two of which have features in interior design magazines. She's just finished doing up her house in Wimbledon, and is eyeing up Bath for her next project.