Exclusive: The Home Decor Mistake That Makes Nate Berkus Cringe

Some things, like wall-to-wall shag carpeting and wood paneled walls, are obvious home decor no-nos. But some design mistakes are more subtle, like say, curtains that are hung too low on the wall. So when we had the chance to pick interior designer and decor expert Nate Berkus’s brain, we were curious to learn what he thinks the biggest decorating mistake people make is, so we can avoid it like the plague.  

So, the one thing that makes him cringe? When people don’t add personal touches to their home. “I’ve spent my whole career trying to explain to people that our home should tell our story. And the way we do that is through our things and the choices that we make. When I walk into someone’s interior, whether they’ve hired a designer or they have done it on their own, it really makes me cringe when you can’t see anything personal about the homeowner,” Berkus explained. 

He went on to admit that adhering to trends too closely and finding everything on Pinterest isn’t always a plus. “I think people are so consumed with all this imagery and everyone else’s opinion that they end up not taking the time to understand their own design personality, so they create an interior that looks like everybody else’s,” he said.

The designer and dad of two, who shared details on his new partnership with Novartis’s My Home in Sight kit, which aims to make home design more accessible for people with declining vision, also warned us about the downside of trends. “They’re designed to make people buy things they don’t need,” he said. Instead of being in pursuit of the next hot thing, Berkus suggests being a bit introspective. “Take some time to really understand what colors, textures and patterns make you feel good.”

He used his grandmother as an example. Regardless of where she lived (Berkus says she “moved from Philadelphia to Minnesota and back to Florida”) her interior landscape was “always some combination of blues and whites.”

Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And since that’s the case, we’ll be adding more family photos and less banana leaf accents to our living room.

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