Top 5 Renovation Regrets (& How to Invest Right the First Time)

Most people are familiar with the buyer’s remorse that can come from grocery shopping on an empty stomach. But renovation regrets? These tend to be more of a long-term commitment (than that impulse bag of gummy bears) & much more expensive. 

I wish I could say that renovation regret is uncommon, but I’ve heard too many first-hand stories to believe otherwise. Obviously, no one wants to invest in a project that they won’t love… so why is this happening? Well, you know me… I have plenty of answers to that!

This month, we’re looking at:

  • The top 3 causes of renovation regret
  • The 5 things homeowners tend to regret most
  • A designer’s guide to investing right the FIRST time


The Most Common Causes of Renovation Regret

01/ Relying on General Contractors

If you don’t have a designer on your team, your GC will be your point of contact throughout your project, & they will ask for quick decisions so that progress can continue. Naturally, homeowners ask them for guidance & suggestions in return. BUT be wary. GCs, while very experienced in bringing a home to life, are NOT designers. 

They may suggest materials that are the cheapest, easiest to install, dated, or most frequently requested by homeowners. They are rarely color experts or fluent in the functionality-meets-aesthetics approach of a true design process — & that’s okay. It’s not their job. 

02/ Unrealistic Expectations Created by “Reality” TV

We’ve all seen HGTV’s renovation shows, & though they’ve nailed the entertainment factor, they also create several problems for homeowners. The first problem is a false sense of knowledge & unrealistic expectations. Many of the realities of a renovation —  especially the design process — are absent or misrepresented in these shows. In fact, sometimes you won’t even see the designer who designed the space! (Just check the credits.)

Additionally, these shows don’t accurately portray construction deadlines, which leads to homeowners having to make last minute “in stock” choices rather than ordering early & getting what they want. All that to say, if you’re tempted to be your project’s own designer, I urge you to think twice.

03/ Not Knowing that “Trends” are Dated

Another problem with TV’s version of renovations is that they also feature trendy designs. & why wouldn’t they? Trends are intended to catch and wow viewers for high ratings rather than inform timeless design. Not only are trends undesirable if you’re planning to invest in a home you’ll love for years, but the trends you see on TV are often DATED by the time they air! Yikes, right?

Okay, now that you know the culprits, let’s talk about those top 5 biggest regrets…


1. Awkward Kitchen Layouts

No matter how gorgeous the cabinetry or how cutting-edge the appliances, you’re certain to feel some renovation remorse if you have a dysfunctional kitchen layout. If you complete your renovation without a designer & ask your contractor where the cabinets should go instead, they won’t take your lifestyle into consideration when giving you an answer. (&, as a reminder, they shouldn’t have to – it’s just not part of their job.) Here are some common examples:

Poorly Positioned Appliances: When you plan the layout of your kitchen, even the tiniest detail (like the location of the refrigerator door when opened) is important. If it opens into a hallway, traffic jams & frustrated family members are going to be the daily special.

No Working Triangle: Ahh, the magical triangle of kitchen efficiency. A quick Google search will send you down a rabbit hole of angles, measurements, & diagrams (oh my!), but let’s focus on the basic premise: the cook should be able to move easily and quickly between the sink, fridge, & stove/oven for maximum functionality. When your layout prevents that, meal prep becomes a frustrating chore.

Ineffective Storage: When planning a kitchen layout, storage is always a factor & should always be taken into account. That’s what cabinets are for, right? Sadly, most people who have kitchen regrets fail to do this well. They realize too late that pull-out drawers would have been more effective than shelves in their base cabinets, or that a trash & recycle drawer would have made the kitchen feel less cluttered. Instead, a design expert can help you plan your cabinetry for exactly what you need & how you live.

We designed our Harvest Hills kitchen for our clients’ exact needs. Take a peek at the project to see all the things cabinetry can do to make your daily life easier!

2. Unsuitable Tile

It may seem like a minor element of your design, but tile actually has a huge impact on the overall feel of the entire space. After all, a tile floor can cover a ton of surface area. When even one aspect of your tile isn’t right, it will affect the whole space. Here’s what we’ve seen:

Shape & Scale: Nothing can make a room look dated faster than an outdated tile shape. (I’m looking at you, wood-look tile!) Even if you choose a timeless shape, its scale & appropriateness for your home’s time period must be considered, too. Example? An oversized hexagonal tile may look stunning on its own, but if installed in a tiny bathroom in a historic home, it will instantly feel out of place.

Color: You’ll find tile in a rainbow of colors, but take care with your selections. A color that may initially seem like a good idea will set the tone for the whole room, & you’ll need to use it to inform design choices in all connected spaces. Plus, will you really love that aquamarine for years & years after looking at it every single day? Maybe, maybe not. Something to consider.

Grout: It may seem insignificant after spending so much time choosing the perfect tile, but grout can either enhance your tile’s beauty or give your space some major gas station vibes… no, thanks! Consider the type & color alongside your tile when choosing.

The Ogden Lane Primary Bathroom features two selections of timeless tile: slate-gray in a herringbone pattern for the floors and a thin, horizontally stacked backsplash tile in stormy teal-blue.

3. Tone of Wood Flooring

Choosing the right wood flooring for your home can be very challenging, and regret in this area is common. Once you settle on a wood species, you’ll need to choose a stain & finish. In addition to an overwhelming number of options, stain colors are usually tested on tiny flooring samples, which makes it very difficult to visualize the color throughout your home. 

The wrong choice may ultimately turn out to be too dark, too red, too farmhouse-ish, too textured, or too gray…. & like tile, your choice of wood flooring will affect everything around it. We all know that wood flooring is expensive, so it really must be an informed decision. In my opinion, this decision alone is worth the investment in a consultation with a designer, just to ensure that you’re not throwing away thousands of dollars.

The warm tone of our Peacock Farm kitchen’s wood floors adds comfort to the space and complements the room’s other natural wood elements.

4. Hardware Choices & Installation

Have you ever been in a space and, though you couldn’t put your finger on it, something just felt off? Chances are, hardware was the culprit. When chosen or installed incorrectly, hardware can throw off the balance of a whole room. Seems like a small thing, but it’s true. Here are mistakes we see:

Off-Scale: It may surprise you to learn that hardware selections are often too small. The size of the cabinet & the size of the room should be considered when choosing hardware. Too small and it feels awkwardly absent. Too big and it’s in your face.

Incorrectly Installed: Deciding exactly where to install pulls, knobs & handles can be its own challenge. The thought of having to drill another hole into your beautiful new cabinets after making a mistake can be terrifying! I really recommend relying on a design pro for this advice.

Mixed with Other Metals Poorly: When it comes to mixing metals, it’s all about finding balance (warm & cool, high luster & low luster, etc.) and enhancing the metals’ natural undertones. Too often, hardware metals are improperly mixed, or not mixed enough. Both result in a space that won’t make you completely happy.

Just the right amount of mixed metals creates the perfect balance in our Shavano primary bathroom.

5. Poorly Sized & Constructed Sofas

I admit, this one is slightly less renovation-specific, but we hear it often. When homeowners renovate their kitchens & open living spaces at the same time, it usually means furnishing them. Of all the furnishings in your home, a sofa is one of THE most challenging to choose correctly. We hear this over & over again!

Appearance: There is often so much that doesn’t meet the eye when it comes to sofas – they may look beautiful in a showroom, but when you take one home & live with it for a few months, disappointment can set in. It can often look different in your space, with undertones changing based on the color of the room, the angle of the sun, etc.

Size: When you walk into a room, you easily notice right away if a sofa is too big or too small for the space. What’s not so easy? Picking the right sized sofa from a showroom without knowing the room’s dimensions. And even when you do know the room’s dimensions, if you’re not experienced in understanding scale, it can be difficult to make the right choice – the sofa may leave no space to walk, or it may be too wide for the only size rug for the space. Balancing every element really takes time & care. Don’t rush this.

Construction: It’s no secret that choosing a high-quality sofa can be hard. Everything that determines its quality & durability, like the frame, cushion construction & suspension, is hidden underneath the upholstery. What looks gorgeous on a showroom floor may stain terribly or give out over time due to poor construction. Your best bet is to source your sofa through a designer. (P.S. Our Shop the Showroom option for San Antonio locals allows you to easily do exactly that!)

A high-quality sectional brings lasting comfort & style to the modern, elegant living room of our Morningside project.

How to Invest Once & Invest Right

No one intends to have renovation regrets, but nonetheless, it happens frequently. Investing in a designer may seem like a luxury, but it’s actually a safety net. You’ll get your investment back, not only in home value when you choose to sell, but in the decreased daily stress that comes from sound decisions that prioritize functionality AND comfort AND style.

Oh, and if you’re ready to navigate your renovation with confidence, we have a little something for you…

It’s our designer-approved guide to getting your renovation right the FIRST time! Inside you’ll find the exact steps that we take as a design firm, from planning & visualizing to budgeting & ordering, along with our expert advice and action-tips for you.

Our comprehensive guide will help your project get off to the right start, but if you’re looking for additional support, we’re always here for you. Just reach out when you’re ready, & we’re happy to help.


Styleberry Creative Interiors specializes in fresh, relaxed design crafted in a meaningful way. With a team and process you can trust, we’ll help you create soul-soothing spaces that inspire you to unwind, connect, and finally… exhale. Our studio is based in downtown San Antonio, Texas and serves clients in the Alamo Heights, Olmos Park, and greater San Antonio Metropolitan areas, as well as Nationwide.

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5 Steps to Selecting the Perfect Sofa

From style to comfort, quality to size, finding the right sofa takes a trained eye and some strategy! Get our step-by-step guide to discovering your perfect match.