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Every week, decorating and entertaining editor Liz Gray will write about the highs and lows of remodeling her first home. Read her first post for more details.

In many ways, buying a house is like starting a brand new relationship: You meet the house, fall for the house and spend hours thinking about how great it is. But a couple of months in, once the boxes are unpacked, you start to notice the little things — like the design equivalent of realizing that your shiny new significant other puts the toilet paper roll on upside down (for those wondering, the paper goes under.)

After living in my house for two months, I’ve realized certain things bother me more than others. (Surprisingly, the wall-to-wall paneling in the main living area didn’t make the list.) I’m counting down the  top 5 design crimes I’m itching to fix ASAP — which do you think is the worst offender?

#5: Grandma’s Wallpaper
We hated this so much that we started stripping it the second day we moved in. The equally ugly coordinating border is still up, but its days are numbered.

Floral Wallpaper

Buh-bye, floral wall and border!

#4: Stairway to Ugly
Okay, the entire second floor hallway is covered in burnt orange carpeting. Okay, it looks like it’s been hanging out here since the late ’70s. Not the worst part. My biggest pet peeve is this staircase:

Faded Orange 70s Carpeting

Orange carpeting, don't bother to write.

Sun from the picture windows has faded the rise of each step, leaving behind a seriously depressing yellow hue. On the other hand: It was ombre before it was cool, right?

#3: Horror Movie Lighting
The first night we stayed in the house, the “bzzz” of the fluorescent lighting in the powder room and master bath made me feel like I was in a bad motel where the only other guest was a serial killer. Irrational fears aside, the lights take forever to come on — especially annoying in the middle of the night.

Light Fixture

See ya, bad lighting!

#2 and #1:  Kitchen Nightmares
As an avid cook, I spend a lot of time dreaming about how much better my kitchen (and life?) will be without these cabinets. They’re made of particle board and covered in peeling white contact paper, plus the doors are oddly uneven. I can’t wait to fix this.

Dated kitchen cabinets

Kitchen cabinets, it's not you, it's me.

The scuffed-up, flower-covered linoleum floor is another sore spot. I’m thinking about covering it up until I can completely replace it.

What do you think? Which is the worst, and how should I fix it? Tell me in the comments below.

100 Responses

  1. [...] Diaries: 5 Biggest Design Pet Peeves HGTV Design Happens Thu, January 12, 2012 10:20 PM UTC HGTV Design Happens Rate this story Share (function(){var [...]

  2. Mari says:

    I have an identical staircase that I want to resurface. I think this is the worst. I don't know what material is under your carpet, but mine are made of concrete and it had been hard to find a material that is not too hard if someone falls. Me and my daugters have fallen a couple of times, but thanks to the carpet, there were any broken bones.

  3. MizzyD says:

    Fix a couple of the cheapest things first. Then you can get a couple of things done that are bothering you, rather than just one (expensive) item. i.e, remove wallpaper before remodelling kitchen.

    Don't think this list will ever end. Once you get through your initial list, a brand new one will pop up unexpectedly. Things that you never noticed will suddenly start making you shudder with distaste every time you walk past them.

    I am 3 years, countless projects and over $20,000 into my first home, and my list of "to dos" is longer than when I moved in. *sigh*

    I currently have a gutted bathroom (down to the studs) and exactly 13 swatches of paint on my basement walls because the color that comes out on the walls bears no resemblance to that on the piece of paper.

    Very rewarding creating your own space though.

    And I have picked "Caribbean Coast" by Behr, which I'll have color matched by Sherwin Williams.

  4. Mary Wiseman says:

    Fix the cheapest, fastest issue first so you will begin to build your momentum. Then, move towards the kitchen.

  5. kate says:

    My parents used to have carpet like that (theirs was shag though). They bought it in the late 70's when they were living in one house and it was so expensive that when they moved a year later they actually pulled it up and brought it with them to the new house. It wound up in one of the bedrooms (which was inhabited by my older sisters, then me, then my brother) and was finally removed in the mid 90s. It went great with the puke yellow carpet in the hallway and stairs :P

  6. CplusE says:

    This is a difficult choice! I grew up with similar buzzing fluorescent lighting in the bathroom so I know I could live with it, but it is probably the easiest and least expensive to fix. The carpeting is bad — is there hardwood under it? When I was young a lot of new homeowners would cover great hardwood with carpeting to "protect" it, even though it meant no one would ever be able to see the beautiful wood! Hopefully this is the case in your house. The kitchen really does need help but this will be pricey to fix, especially if you want to use quality materials, so you may need to live with it for a while. I think you made the right choice starting with the "grandma" wallpaper, which is one of my personal pet peeves and also not too expensive to fix if you are willing to do the work yourselves!

  7. Christina says:

    My dining room used to have wood paneling. Such a nightmare. I don't know how that was ever in style…


  8. Jack says:

    My vote is for removing the wallpaper. You've already started so keep on going. Then a coat of paint and it will be visually the biggest accomplishment and spur you on to tackle the stairs next.

  9. Susie G says:

    I would start with covering the linoleum in the kitchen, then move on to taking down the wallpaper since it's fairly easy to remove with 3:1 water/ fabric softener in a spray bottle. When we bought the house we're in now we loved the yard but not the interior, it needed serious help as all the molding (chair rails, baseboards, and crown) were painted a purplish gray color, and each room in the house had ugly wall paper and/or borders that didn't match anything, so we started with the wallpaper and went from there. Amazing how much difference it made when it was all down & walls repainted.

  10. Bruce says:

    do the wallpaper , but is it sheetrock or lats with plaster

Liz GrayLiz is a senior editor at HGTV.com and an co-editor-in-chief for Design Happens. She lives in a midcentury tri-level that’s stuck in the ‘70s…for now. When she’s not working on...


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