HGTV Bloggers Reveal Their Biggest Design Fears and Fails

White rugs and wall demo and picture hanging...oh my! Forget about ghouls and goblins: It's design mistakes and our personal decor phobias that really get us scared.
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While our jobs here at are to provide you with expert design tips and tricks, design fails and failures-to-start happen to everyone — even HGTV design bloggers! That's why we're revealing some of the worst design disasters and fears that still spook us.

Monica Reese

Monica Reese


Brother Vs. Brother

Are you haunted by design fears and fails of the past? You're not alone. Read on to discover some of our scariest moments, and how to avoid committing the same design faux pas

Hung Up

Inserting Chalkboard Into Wood Frame

Inserting Chalkboard Into Wood Frame

Hand me a hammer and a questionable nail and I immediately get the shakes.

Once upon a time I tried to hang a huge shadowbox frame on a wall, and because I used the wrong hardware it violently swung off and went through the drywall on the adjacent wall. It gets better: this wasn't my house. Whoops. Now it doesn't matter what size frame I am hanging, you can bet your bottom dollar that frame will be anchored into the wall, maybe even all the way into the exterior siding if I can help it.

Are you hung up on picture hanging? Flip through this informative gallery to learn all about finding the right hanging hardware:

Finding the Right Hanging Hardware

See All Photos

Don't Be Intimidated by All Those Little Bins

Photo By: Ryan McVay

The Classic Wall Anchor

Wall Driller

Toggle Bolts

Deck Screws

Nails or Screws?

Deck Screws vs. Lag Screws


Brad Nails

When to Use Screws


Carriage Bolt, Hex-Head Bolt, Phillips Oval-Head Bolt

What's the Correct Length to Use for a Fastener?

Started Off on the Wrong Foot-print

Instead of crying over spilled paint, Liz transformed her bedroom from fail to fab.

It was like the 'what not to do' portion of an infomercial."
Liz Gray

If at first you don't succeed, clean up your paint tracks and try, try again. 

When Liz Gray first moved into her mid-century house, she planned to transform the bedroom by adding a coat of warm gray paint to the walls. "It was like the 'what not to do' portion of an infomercial — The paint color had separated, leaving brownish streaks on the wall, the roller was too full of paint, leaving lots of drips, my fabric drop cloth bled onto my carpeting, and I even accidentally stepped in a container of paint and tracked it through the room. Not exactly the work of a DIY expert!" admits Liz. "The lesson here: Even if you write about design for a living, you still need to do your research (and mix your paint) before getting started. Don’t get frustrated if the first project is less than perfect — just clean up the (literal or figurative) paint footprints and move on!"

Get Pro Tips: How to Paint a Room The Right Way

How to Paint a Room 11:23

Amy Matthews demonstrates how to paint a room with professional results.

Moral Support



Farima Alavi came in like a wrecking ball. Well, not really.

"I wanted to tear down an interior wall in my house, but wasn’t sure if it was a supporting wall," says Farima. (Minor details.) "The first contractor told me it was not a supporting wall, but I had to get three more opinions before I was comfortable enough for the contractor to tear down the wall. I may have wasted money on estimates, but at least I could sleep at night knowing my house wasn’t going to come crumbling down!"

Sometimes it pays to be over-cautious, but we're here when you're ready to take that first swing. 

Knock it Down: Guidelines for a Safe Wall Takedown

Borderline Hoarder

Photo by: Photo by Instagram user kaylamkitts

Photo by Instagram user kaylamkitts

Overheard at Thrifters' Anonymous: "My name is Kayla Kitts, and I have a thrifting addiction." Hi, Kayla.

Kayla and her beau live in an apartment but have big plans for a future home. "He loves (not!) when I come home on the weekends with $3 midcentury modern chandeliers, chairs and furniture that pile up in our spare room. I swear they’ll have a spot in our future home someday!" she claims. "I have a 'craft dresser' full of paint and supplies for when I’m ready to tackle these projects, but I haven’t. My fear is messing up a beautiful piece with cobalt paint. You can’t turn back after the first spray!"

'Eyeballing' It

After: Rustic Barstools

After: Rustic Barstools


Fixer Upper

In this day and age, who has time to measure? Not Jessica Yonker.

"I’m the queen of 'eyeing it'," Jessica confesses. "That's how I ended up with barstools that are too tall for my kitchen island. Everyone hits their knees. Oops."

Our advice for Jessica: Use a measuring tape and graph paper to create a floor plan. Then measure your furniture, draw it to scale and cut it out of another piece of paper so you can move it around. When shopping for furniture, bring a measuring tape and your floor plan along so you know exactly how much space you're playing with.

Floor Plan Planning: Create Your Own Paper Design

Color Conned

Trend alert: Partially painted walls

Here's your new Public Service Announcement: Color decisions that seem clear are not always what they appear. Mariel Clark knows this all too well.

"I’m redoing my dining room and I wanted to go for a soft, almost-white, gray," explains Mariel. "I selected my usual run of about 37 color samples and painted them all over the walls. I picked just the right one and took two days off to paint. I cut in, got one wall finished and realized….it’s lavender! That was back in July. Sigh. So, I’ll be switching to my usual go-to color: Benjamin Moore Gray Owl (lightened by 50%) which is already in two other rooms in my home. And I need to pay someone to paint it ASAP since Thanksgiving – aka the only meal actually served in my dining room – is just around the corner."

Is picking the right white leaving you stumped? Here's how to pick the right shade of white in only five minutes:

The Right White in 5 Minutes 01:17

Here's how to pick the right shade of white in only five minutes.

'High-Brow' Art

How to Paint Color-Blocked Wall Art

How to Paint Color-Blocked Wall Art

Photo by: David A. Land (Styled by Matthew Gleason)

David A. Land (Styled by Matthew Gleason)

When it comes to hanging art, Beth Rucker does not have high hopes.

"I cringe every time I see artwork that is hung too high on the wall," says Beth. "You’re supposed to hang the center point of your artwork about 57 or 58 inches above the floor to make it sit at a comfortable spot near eye-level. Anything much higher just looks like a total fail if you ask me."

For a general guide on hanging artwork correctly, consult this list of directions from our friends at How To Hang Your Artwork and Not Screw It Up

Commitment Phobe

Neutral Living Room With Bold Pink Patterned Armchairs

Neutral Living Room With Bold Pink Patterned Armchairs



Emily Ruddo

Photo by: Emily Ruddo

Emily Ruddo

Enliven a neutral space with bright colored furniture and accent pieces

"It's not you, it's me" — a famous line said by Chelsea Faulkner to virtually every color in the color wheel. Recently engaged, Chelsea is planning for the biggest commitment of her life, but when it comes to applying color to her home, she just can't seal the deal.

"I’m terrified of color," admits Chelsea. "My friends joke that the albino zebra is my spirit animal because everything in my home is either beige, greige, taupe, white or black. Any time I’ve tried to use color, my space ends up looking like a teenage girl’s bedroom. Plus, I change my mind a lot, so painting is definitely not an option for me."

Expert Tips for Choosing the Perfect Paint Color

See All Photos

Opt for Test Sizes

View Swatches in Natural Light

Compare Paint Chips to White

Opt for Inexpensive Foam Brushes

Live With the Colors

Consider Spraying Instead of Rolling

Customize Your Colors

Forget Matchy-Matchy

Color the Ceiling

Our advice for Chelsea: One of the best ways to add color to a bland space is via furniture, tables or pillows. However, if you're looking for a non-permanent solution for adding color to walls, a great DIY project is creating fabric panels by mounting fabric pieces on foam core and batting for an upholstered wall look. Temporary wallpapers are also a great avenue for color commitment phobes. They’ll pull off without damaging the wall, and you get a lot of visual bang for your buck. Still afraid? Use these tips to dip your toe into the colorful world of home decor. 

Hair of the Dog

Above: Camille Smith's daring cream rug

Below: Sophie and Phoebe, aka the canine culprits

Camille Smith has found that sometimes you just have to let sleeping dogs lie.

Who will win in the battle of rug vs. beast?

"As the doting mom to two especially wild-and-crazy canines, I’m very particular about the durability of items I purchase for my home – especially when it comes to area rugs," says Camille. "My girls have a doggie door and fenced-in backyard that promises endless hours of squirrel-chasing, dirt-digging and grass-rolling good times so I typically come home to find the floors littered with muddy paw prints and tiny tidbits of the outdoors that they’ve brought indoors. So, when the time came to replace the sin-concealing Oriental rug in my bedroom, I was tempted to go with another dark rug with lots of pattern to conceal their doggie indiscretions – but when I found this thick, cushy cream rug at a huge discount, it was time for me to face up to my fear."

The solution was really twofold: "I placed a dirt-catcher-type outdoor rug on the back porch to catch most of the mud, grass and yard bits from the girls’ paws before they come though the doggie door and applied two full cans of Scotchgard to the rug before placing it in my bedroom. To keep the high-traffic areas clean, I vacuum it regularly (which, by the way, is the single best thing you can do for a rug – it keeps surface dirt from becoming embedded deep in the fibers) and spot clean by blotting with a damp cloth when necessary."

Dog-Friendly Decorating: Maintain a Chic, Pet-Friendly Home

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