During the frenzied excitement that accompanies moving into a new home, you might end up filling it with a few purchases you'll quickly regret. A couch you loved at the store might look absolutely ginormous in your living room, for instance. Or, those drapes that seemed like they match your carpet to a T might turn out to be way off once they arrive at your door.
Alas, such buyer's regret has happened to all of us. But to help you avoid these mistakes, heed these worst home purchases that homeowners admit to and hear how they came to pass.
A patio set on a porch where no one sits
A patio deserves a pair of wrought-iron chairs and a little table at which to linger and enjoy a cocktail with one's spouse. Right? Christina of Babylon, NY, planned it exactly this way.
"I thought we'd sit out and wave to our neighbors on balmy nights," she explains. Instead, the set went unused.
"We sat there maybe once, saw no neighbors, and then the bugs starting biting us, so we went in," she recalls. It sounded like such a nice idea, but in the end, it was impractical and downright uncomfortable.
"There aren't any lights on our street, so the season for sitting out is very short—it's just too dark!"
Lesson learned: Check the climate in your new neighborhood. Before purchasing outdoor furniture, search for average temperatures, rainfall, bugs, and other factors that could affect how much time you spend outdoors.
A designer chair where no one sees it
"I searched high and low for an Eames chair to go with my desk in the bedroom," recalls Nicole, a homeowner and mom of three in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the expensive purchase ended up being a big waste of money.
"No one ever sees it because it's tucked away in my bedroom, and the kids are constantly climbing all over it and getting it dirty," she laments. They even nicked the paint on one of the arms. "Next time, I'm going to Ikea."
Lesson learned: Save showpieces and custom designs for rooms that see more traffic. For example, hang fancy drapes in the living and dining rooms, but use Kohl's panels for the kids' rooms.
Storage baskets with no plan how to use them
Karina, a homeowner in Wakefield, RI, bought baskets for her crafting supplies, but they were a total bust.
"They basically held my stuff, but I had so much that it couldn't be organized properly," she says. It was, in other words, a basket-filled mess.
Lesson learned: "It's better to have a plan first—and maybe get professional help for some projects—rather than go it alone," says Burston.
A funky mirror that looked dated all too soon
Martha, a fan of the Arts and Crafts look, purchased a huge mirror hand-painted with colorful birds for her new home in Winsted, CT.
"I loved it years ago, but now I say, 'what was I thinking' every time I pass it," she admits. It's currently stashed in an upstairs hall.
Lesson learned: Be wary of trendy pieces—and always save receipts.
"You should be able to exchange something if you haven't marked it up," notes Coraccio.
A DIY project that never got done
Time can sometimes run out on a purchase, as Gillian discovered. This New York City homeowner's husband bought an antique sink years ago from a dealer in Pennsylvania for their Harlem brownstone.
"He planned to fix it up and use it in the upstairs bathroom, but it's still sitting in the basement," she says. In fact, it's been sitting there so long, "now we're divorced."
Lesson learned: Don't let DIYs linger. Be sure you know how to finish a project yourself, and don't begin anything new before the first is completed.
A sofa that doesn't blend in
A couch is supposed to anchor a room—except when it sticks out like a sore thumb.
Anne, a homeowner in New York City, says the sofa she bought after moving in turned out to be the worst of all worlds.
"It's too traditional, uncomfortably firm, and it makes the room look fuddy-duddy," she explains. Levy has lived with this piece for years, but is finally coming around to looking for a replacement.
Lesson learned: Try to thoroughly test-drive every large piece of furniture you're considering. And check the store's return policy; a restocking fee might be worth not getting stuck with a huge furnishing you hate for years. You could also try to sell it online as "almost new."
Just too much, too soon
When Liz moved from a small house in Ipswich, MA, to a larger one in nearby Hamilton, the shopping wheel was set in motion.
"In order to fill the bigger space, I made a whole lot of furniture decisions on the fly," she recalls. The result? A look that wasn't quite right.
"In some cases, the pieces were fine, but in other rooms, I wish I had waited a while, lived in the space longer, and thought through how things might fit together," she explains.
Lesson learned: Live in your new home for at least a month or two. You might find the space you thought would be the family room is better served for dining—and the home office you set up is sitting vacant since you seem to like using your laptop at the kitchen counter.