5 Common Home Updates People End Up Regretting, Plus Expert-Approved Fixes

Home improvement projects can seem exciting at first, but some updates end up being regrettable. As interior design experts, we’ve seen it all – from minor mistakes to total room makeover flops.

To help homeowners avoid home remodeling regret, we’ve put together this guide on the most commonly regretted home updates, along with our expert-approved solutions to fix them. Read on to learn from others’ mistakes and get ideas to make your home updates fantastic.

1. Painting Over Natural Wood Trim and Floors

Painting beautiful, natural wood trims white or grey was wildly popular for a while. But this fad has faded, leaving many homeowners stuck with coated wood that feels dated. Nothing beats the warmth, texture, and timelessness of natural wood finishes.

Expert Tips to Fix It:

  • Strip the paint – This is labor-intensive but revealing the wood underneath is worth it. Use a chemical paint stripper and a metal putty knife to carefully scrape away layers of paint.
  • Sand and refinish – Once stripped, sand the wood to smooth any uneven textures. Then apply new stain and polyurethane to protect and beautify the natural wood grain.
  • Add wood details – If some trim or floors must remain painted, add natural wood elements elsewhere to warm up the space. Ideas include a large wood clock, wood shelving, a butcher block countertop, or wood bar stools.

2. Closed Floor Plans with Too Few Doorways

Knocking down walls to create an open concept floor plan was immensely popular. But some homeowners went too far, leaving rooms totally disconnected from each other with no sightlines. This chops up the home awkwardly.

Expert Fixes:

  • Add a wide doorway – Creating visual connection between rooms prevents that disconnected feel. A wide opening maintains openness while allowing flow.
  • Install double doors – Another way to link spaces, double doors can be flung open for an airy feel or closed for separation when needed. Try distressed French doors for vintage charm.
  • Remove non-weight-bearing wall – If possible, remove an entire wall to recreate true open concept. Consult a structural engineer first to ensure it is non-load-bearing.

3. Outdated Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) Flooring

Luxury vinyl plank flooring is affordable, waterproof, and easy to install. But poor quality, do-it-yourself installation and trendy wood look patterns can make LVP look dated quickly.

Expert Solutions:

  • Adapt pattern – Can the floor be adapted to a more timeless style? Painting a grey wood pattern white or black makes it more classic.
  • Cover with carpet – Adding wall-to-wall carpet on top provides a cozy update. Use thick carpet with a dense pad for smooth installation.
  • Install new floor – Ultimately, replacing the floor with time-tested materials like hardwood, tile, or natural stone may be needed. This is a bigger investment but prevents future regret.

4. Knocking Down Main Load-Bearing Walls

To fully open up main living spaces, some homeowners knock down essential load-bearing walls. This removes structural support and causes ceiling and floor sagging. It’s a major mistake.

How to Fix:

  • Sistering joists – Repair sagging ceilings by sistering new joists alongside damaged ones for support.
  • Install a beam – A steel I-beam down the center of rooms can replace support lost by removing walls. Consult an engineer.
  • Build columns – Strategically placed columns and posts can also replace missing support in open concept homes.
  • Close openings – In serious cases, portions of openings may need to be closed to restore structural stability.

5. Tiny, Useless Pocket Doors

Pocket doors can save space in tight areas. But mini pocket doors with small clearances are basically useless, obstructing openings rather than improving flow.

Helpful Fixes:

  • Widen the opening – Remove framing and drywall to create a wider pocket recess so doors can fully disappear open.
  • Change door direction – Could the door slide in the opposite direction or to an adjacent wall rather than the main opening?
  • Repurpose pocket – Consider converting the pocket to open shelving or cabinetry. Then use a standard hinged door.
  • Remove entirely – Ditch the pocket door completely and install a comfortable sized regular door and trim.

Frequently Asked Questions About Regrettable Home Updates

Still stressing about home renovation regrets? Our interior design experts have answered some frequently asked questions below to help you avoid mistakes on your next home project.

What are the top signs a home update will be regrettable?

Here are the top red flags that a home update will quickly become dated or disliked:

  • The trend is too bold or vibrant to remain timeless. Examples: neon colors, flashy wallpaper.
  • You’re following a trend just because it’s trendy now. But it does not match your personal style.
  • Friends or social media are pressuring you towards a look that you don’t actually love.
  • The update is a quick DIY. But hiring a pro would ensure proper installation and durability.
  • The change reduces the home’s functionality, livability, or sense of openness.
  • The update covers up, alters, or removes original high-quality architectural details rather than enhancing them.

How can I choose home improvement updates that stand the test of time?

Stick to these principles for timeless home updates with long-lasting appeal:

  • Focus on quality over quantity – One exquisite update beats lots of mediocre changes.
  • Honor the home’s existing architecture and style. Enhance rather than overhaul its original character.
  • Use materials that gain patina and improve with age like natural wood and stone. Avoid anything high-maintenance.
  • Lean towards versatile neutrals over loud colors to prevent tiring of a bold look. Soft blues, greens, and grays have the most staying power.
  • Seek purpose as well as style. Prioritize changes that solve problems and add real functionality.

Should I hire a professional or DIY my home improvements?

Home projects often look deceptively simple on TV design shows and social media. But DIY projects can quickly lead to disaster and regret if you don’t have the skills. Safety issues can also arise. Consider this checklist when deciding whether to DIY or hire a pro:

DIY Potential Projects:

  • Painting and minor repairs
  • Simple landscaping like mulching flower beds
  • Building basic shelving
  • Assembling pre-made furniture
  • Wallpapering small spaces
  • Installing window treatments

Always Hire Pros for:

  • Structural changes like moving walls
  • Electrical, HVAC and plumbing work
  • Major kitchen or bath remodels
  • Knocking out windows or doors
  • Refinishing floors
  • Major landscaping including trees
  • Custom built-ins and cabinetry
  • Major roofing, siding or masonry work

What are inexpensive ways to refresh my home’s look without big renovations?

You don’t need giant overhauls to give your home a fresh new feel. Little updates done right can make a big visual impact. Here are budget-friendly ideas for a home refresh:

  • Repaint walls or cabinets for a color change
  • Switch out lighting and hardware for modern style
  • Replace counter appliances like the kitchen faucet
  • Get new throw pillows, area rugs, and accessories
    -Rearrange and declutter furniture
  • Change curtain styles and lengths
  • Update landscaping beds with new plantings
  • Add a fresh coat of stain to wood surfaces
  • Install peel-and-stick wallpaper or contact paper

How can I finance larger home improvement projects to avoid money regrets?

Major home updates often cost more than expected. To avoid financial regret, explore all your funding options:

  • Save up for larger projects rather than financing whenever possible. Having cash in hand is always ideal.
  • If financing, compare rates from your bank, mortgage lender and home improvement companies. Look for no fee, 0% intro APR deals.
  • Borrow against your home equity line of credit if you have sufficient equity. The interest is usually tax deductible.
  • Some materials suppliers like flooring companies offer promotional financing. Look for deals on big ticket items.
  • Ask for discounts and coupons from retailers and contractors, especially during off-peak seasons.
  • Check for rebates on energy efficient products like solar panels or replacement windows. Many come with government incentives.


It’s easy to get carried away with exciting home improvement ideas and trends. But not every popular look stands the test of time, and some projects end up reducing functionality instead of improving it. By learning from the regrets of other homeowners, you can avoid making the same mistakes with your home updates. Focus on quality craftsmanship, timeless materials and purpose over trendiness. And if something does end up feeling like an error, our interior experts provided helpful tips to get your spaces back on track. Follow these guiding principles and you’ll feel confident, rather than regretful, about home projects for years to come.

Additional Resources:

The 10 Biggest Interior Design Trends That Will Disappear in 2023

How to Finance Home Improvements

Hiring a Contractor To Work on Your House? Read This First