The Biggest Decorating Mistake We Make

the barn

Whether you are decorating a bedroom, a ballroom, or a barn–for a wedding, a birthday girl, or simply to live in and enjoy, there’s one mistake that we continue to make over and over again…

the barn

In the past month I’ve decorated The Barn for two completely opposite gatherings. I couldn’t buy all new furniture and rugs, I didn’t want to go to a party store and waste my money on a bunch of throw away paper “themey” decor.

So how’s a girl to decorate on a limited budget, with limited time using what she has without investing time and money into all the wrong things?

girl time

The biggest decorating mistake we make is focusing on the tiny details first.


We tend to fret over the exact color of the 5 x 7 photo frame instead of hanging our drapes correctly or even having drapes at all.

We spend an hour hot gluing cute scrapbook paper onto teeny tiny water bottles instead of spending our time creating one impactful, large-scale focal point.

There’s nothing wrong with looking for the perfect frame or cutesy-ing up water bottles–but do it last, if you have the time to do it at all–don’t put your energy and money into the little details first, put them where you can have the most impact–hopefully by shopping the house, investing in things that can be used over and over and over again and using scale in your favor, your decorations can have a much longer life, and you can do much less work for the same amount of WOW.

blue pallet

So for Mantime, I grabbed a blue pallet that ended up at my house with a delivery (I didn’t even have to paint it!) I shopped the house and borrowed the big Sailfish from my son’s room–since I’ve spent the last five years focusing on larger, WOW items for my home, I have better options when shopping my house–I actually need LESS stuff to have a bigger and better impact on a space.

girl time

And for the Cozy Minimalist gathering last week, I have all the same furniture, but I shopped the house for neutral texture–I had two $40 hammocks that I’ve yet to use outside, Megan and I nailed up a tassel throw, doilies, and some garlands that I already had to create a large-scale-woven/weaving-type effect.

I grabbed the large pink column from my office and used my teepee–not because we had some teepee theme–but because I wanted interest, scale, and neutral texture. And I borrowed the Lindsay Letters Canvas from my office–it’s gorgeous, and the perfect color!

In the next post I’ll tell you more about the flowers and the plants (I have a secret trick for those too).


For now, remember especially when decorating for a party or event, put your biggest effort, and investment into things that make the biggest impact, that can serve you over and over again.


  1. Jamie S. says

    ADORING this floral display, Nester. Amazing! Can’t wait to hear more about the inspiration behind that. Thank you – as always – for this reminder to shop the house!

  2. Love everything, as usual! Especially love the teepee!! The link you provided is for a 6 foot teepee. I’m guessing yours isn’t that tall. Did you make it? So many uses for a smaller one like that. I’m seeing my cats and dogs sleeping in it!

  3. Great advice! I definitely tend to get wrapped up in the details and this is a good reminder to step back and consider the larger picture.

  4. Lisa McCracken says

    I’ve now seen your hammock hanging a few different times (IG, your blog, etc.) and I still cannot get over it. It’s beautiful! I know I would never be able to dream up something so interesting. You have such a gift.

  5. My problem is that I don’t have so many large, impact-making things that I can move around my house. Most of my decorative things are small and detail-ish. And I’m a detail-oriented person, so I don’t tend to see the big picture that often. What do you suggest for people who don’t have large, impactful things to move around?

  6. So, so true! Starting in the right place makes the whole process so much easier & rewarding. Yesterday I hung curtains (high & wide!) in a room I’m working on and the difference was astounding. I’d been worried about what hang over the bed & know I don’t really care – the curtains made such a huge difference to the feel of the room.

  7. Melanie Miller says

    Well, Nester, I do love this post…but I kinda wish you had written it about a month ago. You know, before I started planning for my daughter’s grad party. I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of time on the small details. (To be fair, though, we’ve also spent a lot of time and sweat on the yard for the occasion. Now, I’m praying it doesn’t rain!) This post gives me some freedom from stressing about any additional small details between now and Saturday so I thank you for that. I’m gonna pin this for future reference.

  8. Wonderful advice for party events! Funny, my advice when decorating a room is buy little things first and design around that. Many people buy a paint color before even one piece of furniture, which confuses the heck out of me. After they paint the walls lime green, that’s when they usually hire me and ask “now what”? ;)

  9. I love these posts! You’re such an inspiration. I rarely comment but I truly appreciate everything you do. I’ve been following you since you made those adorable tassels. Sharing on my FB page today ;)
    Hugs, Jamie

  10. mmm … I just threw my hammock in the corner of the garage …

  11. I have been validated! Large items/pieces speak to me. I find it difficult to select the small things of interest. It makes sense to focus on the things that make a statement and take up space before selecting the little things.

    Thank you for sharing a timely lesson most of us need to learn!

  12. inquiring minds have to know…is that denim chair the one that you were waiting to arrive when you, Emily and adad were recording the celebration hope*ology podcast? The one that may get an intentional rip or suade patches? I was in a funk the other day and listening to that podcast really pulled me through. Thank you for all that you share.

  13. That chair is great! It looks so comfy.

  14. This post contains such timely advise for me as I plan my daughter’s baby shower scheduled in a few weeks. You have hit the nail on the head. My friend and I have been discussing all of the little details and now I see clearly how we need to focus on the big impact item or items. Thanks so much for making this so clear! This will really help.

  15. This is so true! Sometimes I can get caught up in the little details. It’s good to step back and look at the big picture.

  16. Are those PLASTIC flowers?

  17. Please forgive a totally off-topic comment: Maybe it’s because I have 55+ year old eyeballs, but I find your greyish font colour very difficult to read! I have to squint, get really close and sometimes even highlight the text in order to be able to read it. The problem is the colour, not the size . I mange to read other blogs with no difficulty. Is there a setting I could tweak to make the text readable? Thanks.

  18. Really good advice, we usually forget to look at the big picture, and a big beautiful piece can make the difference.

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