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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. Beth says:

    Start with the cheapest, easiest projects first, to build your confidence and skills. Peel & stick floor tiles for the kitchen are a good choice–cheap, easy, yet if well chosen, they can really improve the look of the kitchen floor.

    And I agree, finish the wallpaper removal, then give that room a nice coat of paint–small bucks, big impact!

    Or, IF (and only if!!) you know what's under that orange carpet, you could rip up that carpet and just live with the wood stairs for a while. As long as you know it's not WORSE than that carpet!

  2. Rhonda says:

    Ohhhh, those are the ugliest kitchen cabinets. The only thing you can do with those is replace the cabinet fronts. That's what I would get rid of first. Yuck!!!

  3. Lois says:

    Definetly the entrance. It always makes the first impression..

  4. DodiM says:

    Burn it down and start over??

  5. Pam says:

    I have to agree with those that said to start with the cheapest and work your way up. You can start saving for the kitchen,which will be your biggest expense,while working on the smaller things.

  6. Artt says:

    Start at the top and work your way down.

  7. john says:

    no no the paper goes over and down the front ! its easy to find the end that way….

  8. clamj says:

    I bought my townhouse (built in 1984!) in 1994 and it had identical kitchen cabinets to yours. I was finally near making the decision to renovate my kitchen just last year (2011)…when one of those ugly cabinets fell completely off the wall. I wasn't hurt and little was broken, but you should be aware it could happen. It gave me the final mpetus to renovate!

  9. lapearce says:

    I'm a month into remodeling my first house and WOW! I thought I had my work cut out for me! You go girl, keep at it, I'm sure it will be amazing in the end. I'm also blogging my redecorating campaign here: <a href="http://www.houseandhome493.wordpress.com” target=”_blank”>www.houseandhome493.wordpress.com

  10. Cheryl W. says:

    We have the exact carpet. It's called paperika. Previos owner put it in of cours. We moved here 7 years ago and we were suppose to get new carpet. We had kids and decided to wait,because of all the stains that may come. Kids are 7 and 4. I'm still waiting on new carpet. Our list of improvements are never ending. Seems like there is always something that needs repaired and the carpet has to wait! New furnace,roof etc. Seems like as soon as we have money saved up,we need the money for that!! Wish I had a money tree.

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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