5 Home Reno Ideas You Should Avoid


Home renovation is a collection of expensive decisions. This might be the biggest reason why a lot of homeowners hesitate to even start one. I know. And the last thing you want is spending money on things that you don’t need. But first, we need to identify them. They are mostly well disguised and can be very appealing to you; kinda like wolf in sheep’s clothing. You are the red riding hood and yes I’m here to warn you; don’t fall for it (read on)

We look at beautiful homes online and on the magazines, some time down the road we made up our mind about what we like and what we don’t. And it differs from everyone. And what fits your needs might not fit mine. I love the above pink couch, same one being used here and you can buy it here. Do you know that there are decisions you can make during your home reno that are expensive but not as effective as you might think. 

Read this! Please understand that this post should never be taken as direct criticism to any of the designers/ homeowners of the homes shown. All images are for illustration purpose. Some of these homes might not even be fully furnished or styled (which can make them a lot better). :)


Going for full on theme over style is a common design misconception. Promise me you’ll never use the word “theme” to describe your home after you finish reading this sentence. Theme is like a theme park like Halloween theme, “what’s the theme for the party?”. This is how you use “theme”. Home should be the reflection of the homeowner’s style or styles. The difference of the two; the former is rigid, it’s like having a dress code for parties and events (so that no one shows up as the oddball).

A home designed with a theme has no tolerance, anything not belonging to the theme will stand out as odd or wrong. Style on the other hand is able to change and progress (much like your personality). Layering themes (to fit multiple needs of the residents in a home) can produce a messy over the top result. On the other hand, a space that is rich with unpretentious styles is very alluring.

Well let’s talk about the above home (and I want to show you designs from my country, Singapore) so most of the images here are from my place of origin. We are so guilty about this one (in fact, the entire of this list…gosh!). The industrial theme here is taken very literally with the crates, exposed wiring and wall bricks (the bricks as some form of a design here). The first thing that pops into your mind is the theme, it’s like a no-brainer. Homes, like actual living people needs to give off a vibe like “you know me but you don’t know me entirely”. Because this is the number one reason why we continues to feel attracted to certain people (because they gives off this vibe!) and it’s important to feel this way in a home so that it never gets tired or predictable (unless you only plan to stay there for three months).

Over the top is never the way to impress. Like the industrial style? Don’t make everything industrialized, it needs space to breathe. And if you are dealing with small spaces, it needs even more space to breathe! First, the above space can do with a more comfy sofa, see here for 12 types of sofas and here if you fancy an eye-catching color sofa. I cannot stress enough about the importance of scoring the perfect sofa is a huge step to making your home perfect. A built-in dining bench works better by reducing visual clutter, add another freestanding bench to avoid the situation of three small chairs. The rug is seriously too small (this is like the size of a bath mat). I’ll be prepping for the next Ask Kate installment on choosing rugs and how to position it with your furniture, so stay tuned. :) The coffee table is dis-proportioned to the sofa, it’s so miniature it looks like kids furniture. The shiny white floor is too much of a contrast from the industrial style this home is going for. Matte floor would fare much better.

The sign of a home with a theme; every corner of the space is the dictionary explanation of the theme; no room to breathe, uninviting and cold. 

Source: 1 // 2

Going after trends that were hot five years ago because at some point of your life you saw something that you really really want (sorry if this reminds you of that spice girl’s song, ha!). And you’ve decided that you need this in your home. Fast forward five years later, you’re stuck with that deep rooted desire that you’ve already convinced yourself that your home is gonna be perfect with this; something that you loved five years ago.

It’s easy to see something you like and then make a conclusion and stop revisiting it, lemme tell you it’s easy. Or maybe you think it’s better to leave design decision to your designer/contractor/significant other (in other words anyone but yourself). This is the reason why it’s very important to keep looking for inspiration (new inspiration). Because once you stopped exploring options, you’ll start to feel convinced of decisions that are no longer relevant. Obviously, there are things that once you fall in love, you’re absolutely without a doubt with it. The key here is asking yourself about the decisions you’re gonna make for your home reno; is this what you really love/need and is gonna stand the test of time, will I regret or get sick of it the next year and is it something that is expensive or hard to change? Ask yourself all these questions. 

Cement wall or exposed concrete is raw and beautiful, a lot of people love the look. Anything you put in your home needs to interact with the rest of your home. So ask yourself, do you love this look because you once loved it because everyone did or you will always do? You might not have a definite answer but are you prepared to do what it takes to make this look works for you?

See image left; blue and white are cool tones, mix in the cement wall and floor the space is unapproachable, under-furnished and in need of more warmth. See image right; I’m guessing this is an actual exposed concrete wall from the building and has a lot more dimension and patina compare to the cement screed version (which is basically plastered wall without paint). Brass, wood and statement-making wall lamp helps warm up the space, making it feels like a good place to chill. The rug on image left is the wrong size for the space, image right got the rug size right.

Unlike changing hairstyles, decisions like this can be difficult to change. Work your style and the rest of the home with the trend you love, this is one way how you know something is what you truly want and love. There is no copy and paste and then happily ever after.

Source: 1 // 2

Going for lots of storage from the get-go because you think you need them. You feel secure to know that you have a lot more extra/unused space or you didn’t like giving/throwing things away (hoarder alert!).

The monster TV entertainment center is a fading trend but before you start showing your disbelief, know that I’m referring to the standalone ones. Those that are full height built-in, recessed or comes with beautiful millwork are still very on trend! This is one thing that if you plan to have one, don’t go cheap. Because of the size of these they are often the focal point of the room. Smart hidden storage (image right) for kids bedroom is great. Kids also have a lot of stuff like toys and homework (books) and sometimes two or three kids has to share one room which means they naturally have more stuff than adults. 

The conclusion is to add extra storage to your home reno list only when you absolutely need it. The additional storage here excludes kitchen storage, bookcases (if you’re a books lover go ahead and have your dream bookcase), wardrobe. I’m strictly referring to bulky storage in your living room where everyone can sees and please also don’t have them stop short from your ceiling, it dwarfs a space. Go for those floor to ceiling ones and if you really need it, try and have them look like it’s recessed into the walls. Coordinate the rest of your room with it, example; don’t have the doors in mahogany wood and there’s no any other reddish wood or red toned stuff in sight. Your built-in is gonna look very random and jumps out at you all the time in a distracting bad way. I may be the only person who says too much storage can be bad but it’s okay because I’m a badass. XD

Looking for inspiration for flexible kid’s bedroom, see here.


Going for retail space features in your home because it seems to be the only way to keep it fun. Some homes look like a showroom, some look like it’s a shop. I’m sure some super rich dude has a garage just for his cars collection. Well, we can’t all be that guy. The last thing you should do is turning your entire living space into a museum.

A living space should be literally what it means, live. This is the number one priority, it’s not about having a show-and-tell or impressing anyone. If you’re lucky to have a spare room for collection, fine. And sure, you might feel that having a wall of mirrors or displaying your entire collection is impressing yourself (not others). A shop is designed to make you spend, it will be a lot better if your living space feels less of having an agenda (like a retail space), trust me unless it’s really intended for customers (home business).

It’s really easy to try and impress people with glitzy stuff (well, mostly at first glance) which is why designers might push for these features in your home, question is do you need it or do you think it’s a good idea because the idea sells (pun intended)?


Going for the open concept because everyone’s doing it. This is one thing that I’m aware that almost every other person who watches design shows or is interested in interior design (not a designer) says they’ll hate to see another open concept home. Not so much in the country I live (Singapore) but so much in the U.S. It is the go-to formula and it’s getting tired. Same can be said with white subway tiles *cough* but in my opinion, it’s fine if you’ve decided to do open concept because it suits your family better. 

See the above home, open concept living space needs good design to define each area. Because you can see everything at one glance, it’s important to make each area functional and intimate. Rugs are a good way to define each zone; living, dining, entryway. It’s also very important to create focal point or points so that your eyes doesn’t just wander around. Having something to see and draw our attention makes a space interesting and creates that positive connection.

The above home (see above image) has so much dead space to me it’s a wasted opportunity (somehow in my country, we love dead spaces x.x). Dead space is empty space, unlike purposely created negative space which is designed to allow space between furniture to breathe, dead space is just nothing. It’s disconnected and has no function (you don’t need the size of another living area as walkway unless you plan to do cartwheels everyday). We’re so guilty of pushing our furniture to the walls, it actually makes your space seems smaller. Floating furniture actually makes the illusion of bigger space because of the those negative spaces between your furniture and the walls; this is one of the right ways to use empty space. Dead space in the middle of a big room is embarrassing and looks unfinished. If you lives in an envy-inducing big home, try experimenting with different furniture arrangement.


Before I sign off from this post and if you read until this part, know that I like you already. :) See above home inspired by superheroes with a theme but it’s a subtle hint beneath the industrial style. Displaying a few of your priced or beloved collection on the shelves is the way to go (change it when you like). Instead of designing your home around a theme, design your home around your style and layer what you love on top.

And by the way, it doesn’t hurt that this home has a stately chesterfield sofa. A cowhide rug has irregular shape and is perfect for space sometimes when you’re not exactly sure what size to go for. The color palette gives off a moody vibe but not depressing due to cheerful accents like the orange lamp and green plants! Casually leaving your throw around like this makes an impression of “someone just got up from the sofa”, it makes one visualize a space with an actual human in it thus creates the sense of a home. Design such as an airplane window is actually a photo frame and is both interesting (again, being unpredictable!) and classy. It shows that having a “theme” can be achieved in a space that is also totally homey.

I hope this list can help you make a better informed decision towards your home and save you money so that you can spend them on things you really love. :) Need help or advice for your home, click here

Read more on How To Start Planning For Your New Home // 7 Steps To The Right Style For Your Home

Update: I’ve been busy updating my new home layout, 3D and storage planning. The 3D reveal for style challenge will be up on the blog in May. See you next post.

Read this! Please understand that this post should never be taken as direct criticism to any of the designers/ homeowners of the homes shown. All images are for illustration purpose. Some of these homes might not even be fully furnished or styled (which can make them a lot better). :)

All words by me and featured image from White Attic Interior.



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