Real Girls: The Décor Mistake I Made at 20 That I'd Never Make Now

In the grand scheme of things, learning to decorate is not too dissimilar from taking your first steps or dabbling with a new language. You might be hesitant to take the plunge or make a few faux pas at first, and you certainly won't always get it right. That's why interior designers are to decorating what linguists are to language, or what runners are to marathons. In other words, practice makes perfect.

It's only natural to make mistakes when first trying your hand at decorating (for instance, I became a knickknack hoarder), but that doesn't mean we can't try our best at prevention. After all, we never shy away from shortcuts here at MyDomaine, and we always strive to stop apartment decorating mistakes in their tracks.

Since knowledge is key, we went around the MyDomaine office and asked real, stylish girls to share the biggest apartment decorating mistakes they made in their 20s. Trust us: Everybody makes décor mistakes, even here—but thanks to these handy tips, maybe you won't have to.

Shying Away From Color

Apartment decorating
Monica Wang ; DESIGN: Katie Hodges

"Living in small NYC apartments, I always admired people who were able to create rich, beautifully layered spaces, but I never felt brave enough to try it myself, and defaulted to all-white everything. Once I actually acquired a big, colorful rug, it was much easier than I had feared to create a color scheme that made sense." — Kate Winick, former social media director

Apartment Decor — Persian Rug
Chairish Persian Hamadan Rug $429

Underestimating the Power of Storage

First-Apartment Decorating
Monica Wang

"The biggest mistake you can make when living in a small space is underestimating how life-changing a good bookshelf or credenza can be. Moving from apartment to apartment, I've found that, no matter my closet size or lack of shelves, having backup storage makes all the difference. " — Jasmine Fox Suliaman, community manager

Apartment Decor — Storage Box
Antique Mirror Container 9 $282

Buying Things to Fill Space

Apartment Decor
Sean Litchfield ; DESIGN: Gabrielle Savoie

"When you're moving into your first or second apartment post-college, it's tempting to want to buy everything at once without really thinking about how it fits your personal style or what its ultimate function should be. Granted, there are necessities when you first move in, but you don't need to raid big-box furniture stores the first week you move in. Get to know your space and think long term.

"I purchased a secondhand kitchen table in my first place and hated it. It was so ugly, not my style, and was poorly made, so when it came to my second place, I waited a while to find something that was a worthy investment. Even though it was mildly inconvenient to eat dinner on my coffee table for three months, it made it all worth it when I found the right piece. It was a worthy investment, and everyone who comes over compliments it!" — Stephanie DeAngelis, former graphic designer and illustrator

Apartment Decor — Beautiful Book
Mark Sikes Beautiful $24

Collecting Generic Art

Apartment Decor Ideas
Monica Wang ; DESIGN: Consort

"Art is obviously expensive on a 20-something budget, so in order to have something on the walls, I kept a lot of pieces I wasn't crazy about. I wish I'd found more creative options, like framing something meaningful in a shadow box or picking up cool textiles while traveling, rather than defaulting to framing posters or generic IKEA art." — Kate Winick

"When I first moved into my home in Los Angeles, I had a tinge of doubt. The space is a dated '80s-style home, and I had previously lived in a loft, but the moment I hung up art, it brought the space to life. Now I couldn't bear living anywhere else." — Jasmine Fox Suliaman

Apartment Decor — Photography
Nicole Cohen Blonde on the Beach $60

Overdoing Travel Souvenirs

Apartment Decorating Ideas
Monica Wang

"I traveled throughout Europe and Asia a lot in my 20s and started to accumulate tons of stuff. I'd bring home handmade vases from Thailand, small accent rugs from Morocco, and ceramics from Portugal that were beautiful on their own but looked completely odd and mismatched when they finally made it into my living room. My personal style is quite minimal and monochrome, and I am 100% anti-clutter, so I felt torn with these travel purchases. I didn't have the heart to tuck them away in storage, but I also hated the way they looked on display.

"Don't get me wrong—I'm not against buying gorgeous décor from the source, but now that I've grown up a little, I think about how each item will pair with my existing decor before bringing it home." Sophie Miura, senior editor

Apartment Decor — Ay Illuminate Lantern
Ay Illuminate White Z1 Lantern $920

Keeping Unnecessary Items

First Apartment Decor Ideas
Monica Wang

"When I arrived in NYC with my B.A. in English literature in hand, I was convinced I couldn't live without shelves and shelves of books. After a few moves packing them up and hauling them all up and down flights of stairs, suffice to say I'm less attached to them than I used to be. I'm all for having books in the house and keeping the ones that are meaningful, but I've definitely pared down my collection over the years.

"By the same token, living on a budget and working in a profession where I wasn't always reliably employed, I tended to hoard beauty products and clothes and other things that I wasn't really using but wanted to keep in case I needed them later. I ended up spending more money and space on storage solutions than I would have if I'd just consigned or sold those items and bought ones I liked more later." — Kate Winick

Apartment Decor — West Elm Dining Chair
West Elm Wire Frame Dining Chair $169

Living Life Sans Candles

How to Decorate an Apartment
Sean Litchfield ; DESIGN: Gabrielle Savoie

"The biggest mistake I made was never buying candles (crazy, I know), but now I have to say there's nothing better than coming home and lighting one up." — Jasmine Fox Suliaman

Apartment Decor — Mad et Len Candle
Mad et Len Black Afghan Candle $91

Next up: These seven small details will transform your rental (without putting your deposit in jeopardy).

This story was originally published on April 26, 2017, and has since been updated.

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