Home Design Choices to Avoid

By Lyle Weischwill | Nov. 10, 2016 11:12 pm PST

Pick design choices you can live with for many years to come with these practical tips and tricks.

Our guide can save you from making cringeworthy design decisions that you’ll laugh about later.

We’re all haunted by style choices of homes past. Maybe it’s the faux wood paneling in the rec room, an avocado green refrigerator, that gold and velvet flocked wallpaper, or the pink and black tiled bathroom.

But there’s no need to be a part of the next wave of scary home design choices.

“Whatever your sense of style, you’re looking for authenticity,” says Tom Johnson, an architectural designer who designed Ralph Lauren Home products and freestanding Polo stores. When making choices for your home, err on the side of simplicity, advises Johnson, who now designs residences and commercial spaces all over the world. “Don’t overthink trends. Look at them and pull what feels authentic for your lifestyle. And believe in your own instincts.”

Here are some home design ideas that will keep your living space classic.

Pick a Genre

While some mixing of design genres can enhance your home, it’s best to run with a common theme for your next home remodel. For example, an ultramodern layout might not fit well in a colonial or farmhouse-style home. So match your interior design choices to the space you live in.

“You don’t want to create a kitchen that is counterintuitive to the rest of your house,” Johnson says.

Our kitchen “chameleon” tool lets you see what your kitchen would look like with a remodel and helps you determine what will look best.

Embrace Your Assets

If your home has unique or special elements like beautiful hardwood floors, original wood trim, custom cabinetry or fireplaces, let them be the centerpiece of the room.

“Embrace the elements that make your home unusual,” Johnson says.

And if you’re selling your home, hardwood floors add value. Buyers may not like the carpet color and often perceive that someone else’s carpet harbors dirt and germs.

Lighting Strategy

Make your home friendlier and brighter.

“Lighting is incredibly important to design,” Johnson says. “One bright light in the center of the room is unfriendly. If you have several sources of light — table or floor lamps, overhead lights — the house will feel cozier.”

And, unless it’s a spot in your kitchen or bathroom where you need a bright light for activity, it’s rarely a good idea to have a lot of can lights. You want your space to feel like a home — not a commercial space.


When choosing home lighting, try LEDs. They provide a warm glow, similar to incandescent (which have been phased out) or halogen.

“Don’t pick the ‘cool’ LED light, which feels like the inside of a refrigerator,” Johnson warns. “You want the color of light from a flame. That’s what people respond to.”

Paint It White

If you can’t decide on a room color, white paint is classic and cheerful. It will highlight your furniture and can make a room appear larger.

“There’s nothing like a fresh coat of white paint,” Johnson says.

This is particularly true if you’re looking to sell.

“If you opt for trendy colors, and if the space feels overly decorated, not everyone will identify with it,” he says. “You want the space to look timeless.”

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