The joy of moving into your own home and finally having the freedom to style your space in your 20s can be both liberating and overwhelming. Having broken free of your childhood bedroom walls, the styling choices now in front of you can be exhilarating, a chance to really hone your personal interiors style and showcase who you are.
There’s a tendency to get stuck in and nest immediately, even before measurements have been taken and big-ticket items have been purchased. And while this is very easy to do, you will want to avoid this at all costs. Instead, take your time and move slowly through the process, no matter how eager you are to throw pillows around the place and invite everyone over to view your handiwork.
But before you run to Ikea consider some of these common interior styling mistakes 20-somethings are prone to stumble on and save yourself some bad decision-making your future self won’t condone.
1. Avoid: getting ahead of yourself
The thrill of having a space to decorate may send you out of the house on a buying binge before you’ve got your electricity switched on but this is a mistake, as bad decision-making happens here. Before you delve into furnishings and side table decisions, make a list of what you need and a mood board. Creating a Pinterest board for each room of your home or a collection of saved images on Instagram dedicated to your abode aspirations might seem obvious, but how diligent have you really been? Moodboard until you see some clear stylistic choices emerge and then find a happy middle ground where your preferences meet functionality and go from there. Don’t run before you can put a name to what you actually like.
2. Avoid: impulse purchases
It can be easy to fall in love with a piece and convince yourself you will want it forever but in the harsh light of your 30s, you might think differently. Impulse purchases are usually expensive so approach splurging with care and give yourself time to mull it over. If it’s a vintage piece or a one-off, ask the seller to hold it while you think it over rather than panic buy or get an honest friend or family member to come view the piece and help evaluate the pros and cons of the purchase with you. If there’s a piece you feel you can’t live without, ask yourself some important questions first. For example, how might you outgrow this piece in the future? Is the piece flexible enough to work in a different home or space? Is it a fleeting trend you will tire of? Does it pair with what you already own or will it suck up all the space in the room?
3. Avoid: trends
It can be tempting to splash out on a trendy piece or redecorate according to the latest interior ‘must-haves’ but remember that those who know how to wield a trend with ease have been decorating for years, they’ve made their mistakes and learned from them. Approach trends with a discerning eye and be selective about what you allow into your space. If you love the idea of a trend, be critical about the defining elements or ‘calling cards’ of this look and how you might distill or test-drive these details.
4. Avoid: championing new over old
It would be an error to only have eyes for brand new pieces; learning to layer old and new is a styling skill that will serve you well. Not only will you save money scouring second-hand stores for vintage or pre-loved pieces but you will also create a space that’s less show-home and more distinct and undeniably you. If you’ve inherited furniture don’t immediately add this to your ‘replace’ pile either. Be creative and work on refreshing well-loved items with a coat of paint or varnish.
5. Avoid: matchy-matchy choices
Pairing the right shapes, colors and accents can certainly make a home feel whole but don’t fall into the common trap of insisting everything must match. Having your pillows match your throw, ottoman and curtains can feel amateur. Don’t hide behind these matchy-matchy choices, experiment with mixing color and texture, no matter how neutral. Mismatched chairs at a dining room table can instantly give a room some personality and prove you’re a dab hand at the styling game.
6. Avoid: clutter
There can be a tendency to want to fill your home immediately with your ‘forever’ pieces but it’s imperative to come to terms with the fact that your dream home is not likely to be the one you have in your 20s. It’s certainly a time to start collecting pieces of quality but remember editing is key to designing a home that feels inviting but not cluttered. Too much furniture can disrupt the flow and footprint of a room. Similarly, busy walls or art of shelves stacked with trinkets can start to feel messy rather than purposeful. Allow for some blank space to give yourself and the room a chance to breathe. Clutter is not your friend.
7. Avoid: overlooking the small essentials
An inviting home and all its trimmings is a responsibility, so handle your newfound space and decor with care. If investing in art, don’t leave it leaning against a wall collecting dust for months where damage is sure to find it. Buy a frame and keep your investment safe. This applies to all of your home, don’t get lazy with caring for or protecting your decor. Invest in small essentials like coasters you will be excited to use and make these adult buys fun and functional styling choices. If you have to stare at a pesky watermark from a wayward glass for the next 10 years you will be sorely sorry.
8. Avoid: being overly careful
While it’s wise to be careful and tread lightly when considering paint options or furniture investments, don’t be afraid of making mistakes either. Learning what you like and dislike, what you want from your home, and what you feel comfortable with comes from trial and error. Don’t be nervous to test drive something bold or different; your 20s is a time to experiment and discover who you are. So you hung your art incorrectly? Better to make that mistake now than with something expensive or one of a kind.