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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.

98 Responses

  1. wahela says:

    My daughter bought a house with those nasty cabinets in the kitchen. Her hubby took all the doors off, painting them three layers with that Nu Kling paint, and painted the rest of the cabinets, and they look like really nice white cabinets. You could do something like that until you are ready to scrap it all in the kitchen. Daughter put new drawer pulls on, and it looks really new. My biggest pet peeve, I bought a 1936 Craftsman house from a DIYer. He did a lot of really good stuff, new furnace, HWH, AC, all new electric, waterlines, moved the bathroom into a bedroom and made the old bathroom into the laundry room upstairs, and kept all the glass door knobs and old furnace vent covers, etc. Then he put up in some modern brushed nickel things that totally do not match. Right after I bought the house, I bought new counter tops, rubbed bronze faucets and handles, antiquy looking lights for over the table and in the bathroom, and a round old fashioned mirror. He had mixed new with old, and I loved the house, but right off, could see what he had done. Original wood floors, glass door knobs, etc. so I got rid of all the brushed nickel and shiny silver more modern touches. Now I have an old fashioned 1936 Craftsman with all new innards, water lines, elec, etc.

  2. Liz_HGTV says:

    Hi wahela,
    Painting them is a great idea! I think that's what we'll do until we save up to do the full remodel. Would love to see photos of your remodeled house!

  3. Julie says:

    Change the light fixture in the bathroom – so easy! A little fix that can be so much better. I'm very excited for you. Believe it or not, you will enjoy most of this.

  4. I agree with evalyn. When I first moved in my old house I was in a same position. This is what remodeled, I pained the kitchen cabinets and entire house, I replace the carpet with pergo; it's easy to install and cheap! When I finished all that my house changed completely. So, I would defiantly consider doing this if on low budget.

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Liz GrayLiz is a Senior Editor at HGTV.com. She lives in a midcentury tri-level that’s stuck in the ‘70s…for now. When she’s not working on remodeling projects with her boyfriend and...


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