Joanna Gaines guide: Tacky items and decorating mistakes to avoid

Joanna Gaines guide: Tacky items and decorating mistakes to avoid

Your home is more than just four walls and a little bit of paint; it’s the place you come home to at night, your safe haven after a long day at work. It’s the place where you’re raising your family and sharing laughter and joy. Because your home is such an important part of your life — after all, you’re going to spend literally most of your life there! — it needs to be a reflection of yourself and your personality.

With that in mind, nobody wants their domicile to reflect outdated decor, antiquated furniture and outright tacky accessories. And if you’re looking for expert advice on how to avoid having a cringeworthy home, then you need to turn to Joanna Gaines, host of the show, Fixer Upper. Alongside her husband Chip, she’s helped turn outdated houses into stunning abodes.

If you want to have a home that you can be proud of (and will also get Joanna’s seal of approval!), then you absolutely need to banish these items from it completely. Otherwise, you may find yourself realizing that your home is speaking volumes about you…and you probably won’t like what it’s saying.

Barn doors

Have you ever been yelled at by an adult for your unruly behavior, followed by a demand to know, “Were you raised in a barn?” Well, unless you really want people to think that you were brought up in a building more suited to farm animals, then we really recommend that you don’t spring for barn doors for your house.

Barn doors

While Joanna is a fan of farmhouse chic, this reads more bovine rather than fashionable. If you want your house to look classy, then it’s advised that you skip the barn door completely.

Plastic potted plants

Everyone loves a potted plant. They help keep the air in your home fresh, they add a vibrant pop of color to your home, and they also allow you to show off your green thumb (in a modest, yet charming sort of way).

Plastic potted plants

However, plastic plants? Joanna says that a classy home has no room for a fake plant. If you don’t have the time to keep a real one alive, then please don’t set out a fake one. They’re almost never convincing, they’re always covered in a film of dust, and they’re all-around tacky.

Ruffled furniture skirts

The idea of a skirt on your furniture (whether it’s a chair, a table, or something else entirely) is so downright ludicrous, we’re shaking our heads at whomever invented these monstrosities.

Ruffled furniture skirts

The only legs that a skirt should be covering should be a human’s — not your furniture. If your furniture is clean and stain-and-scuff free, then show it off. If it’s so old and careworn that it requires a covering, then get rid of it entirely. But no matter what, please don’t put a skirt on it.

Bold paint on walls

Adding a pop of color to a room is a great way to increase visual interest and make it more attractive. You can do it with a piece of funky artwork or maybe some fun patterned pillows. That said, you should never paint your walls a bright, bold color.

Bold paint on walls

Joanna recalled moving into a house that had cherry red walls in one room and lime green walls in another, and she said they had to completely repaint the entire home to make it livable. Listen, your home should never resemble a cherry limeade, okay?

Blanket ladders

The problem with blanket ladders isn’t that they’re ugly in and of themselves. It’s that they come across as a little bit too “try hard.”

Blanket ladders

If you’re residing in a little log cabin, complete with a wood-burning stove, then yes… maybe a blanket ladder may not seem out of place. However, if you’re residing in suburbia and you’re trying to force a rustic vibe in your home with a blanket ladder, then you missed the mark entirely. Instead, why don’t you just drape a blanket over your couch or love seat?

Small (floating) rugs

Whoever thought that having itty bitty rugs was a good idea needs to have a serious talking to. The entire point of a rug is to be comfortable and plush under your feet, break up the room, and give the furniture something to rest upon.

Small (floating) rugs

A tiny rug does absolutely zero of these things. If you can’t comfortably rest all four corners of your furniture upon it, then the rug is too small. Just exchange it for a larger one, ditch the rug completely, or invest in high quality carpet.

Brightly colored refrigerators

For a while there, candy-colored fridges were all the rage. From sunny yellow refrigerators to lime green fridges, people were adding a pop of color to their kitchen through this food storage device.

Brightly colored refrigerators

However, adding a hot pink or turquoise fridge is a quick way to make your home look instantly dated. Your fridge is there to keep your food from going bad, not to announce to the world that you love your primary colors. Instead, you should invest in a basic gray, black, or even white refrigerator.

Posters (without frames)

Trying to decorate with posters can be a tricky styling decision to navigate. While it may be neat to have a vintage poster (think Toulouse-Lautrec, not Backstreet Boys concert) hanging in your living room, a poster without a frame can quickly venture into “teenage heartthrob” territory.

Posters (without frames)

Sure, immortalizing your favorite movies and bands can be a great way to express your personality, but if you do, first make sure you invest in a good frame to protect them. A nice frame will make all of the difference between the room looking like a teenager’s bedroom and a respectable living space.

Campy and silly picture frames

It’s understandable to want to pick up a cheesy picture frame for a cherished family photograph. After all, who hasn’t wanted to put a picture of their spouse in a frame that was ornamented with hearts?

Campy and silly picture frames

While the sentiment of these types of picture frames is definitely sweet, and it may look great in a teenager’s room, it’s the absolute opposite of elegance. Not only are they tacky, Joanna believes that they take away from the picture itself. You want people to admire the photo, not the frame, right?

Tiled countertops

There’s something visually pleasing about tiles. Whether it’s the perfect squares or the undeniable symmetry of the tiles, they definitely have their time and place…on your floor. On your kitchen countertop, though?

Tiled countertops

Not only does it look incredibly dated, it can also make cleaning this surface a serious chore. We shudder to think about all the dirt and grime that can work its way into the grooves between the tiles. Seriously, it’s a serious case of food poisoning just waiting to happen.

An over-the-stove microwave

We can sort of understand why somebody might have thought that placing a microwave over the stove was a good idea. If you’re juggling a four-course meal and you need to quickly heat something up, going from the stove to the microwave is an easy transition.

An over-the-stove microwave

However, it’s not only an eyesore, it’s also terribly impractical. It can be dangerous, for starters, and what about food spatter? You don’t want to be constantly wiping pasta sauce from the bottom of your microwave, do you? Instead, just place it on the kitchen counter.

Pattern problems

It’s interesting how a tacky idea can take off, and instead of people acknowledging that it’s an unattractive style, it instead gets rebranded as something new. These days, amateur interior decorators are haphazardly throwing clashing patterns together and calling it “pattern mixing.”

Pattern problems

Well, Joanna says you can call it whatever you like, but it’s still an eyesore. Having a couple patterns in your home is absolutely fine, but when your eyes grow fatigued from the excess of jarring patterns, then you’ve gone too far. One or two patterns are fine. More than that? Too much.

Cheap glass furniture

Once upon a time, anything glass (combined with chrome) was considered to be the absolute pinnacle of peak interior design. It wasn’t unusual to walk into someone’s house and see a glass coffee table, a glass dining room table, and even some glass end tables on either side of the couch.

Cheap glass furniture

While the occasional glass accessory can look nice, you’ll want to make sure you invest in a modern and stylish piece. In other words, leave that cheap and dated glass coffee table at the store. It has no place in your home, period.

Speckled granite countertops

When it comes to countertops, it’s hard to find a better material than granite. It’s attractive, durable, and in the case of speckled granite, both overdone and boring. Okay, so we’ll admit we like granite, but that’s not the issue here.

Speckled granite countertops

It’s the fact that Joanna sees it in everybody’s houses these days, which indicates a complete lack of original thought and creativity. If you want your home to look nice — and stand out from the millions of other generic houses on your block — choose something other than speckled granite.

Outdated wooden cabinets

Very few building materials are as durable and attractive as wood, and when you’re looking to install new cabinets, this material can be an excellent choice. The problem arises when you choose a color that is “trendy.”

Outdated wooden cabinets

Every single decade has had its own vogue color (remember when black was a popular choice?), and the problem with being fashionable? Is that the cabinet can just as quickly become unfashionable. Instead of looking for trendy colors, you should instead look for timeless colors. Otherwise, you may be looking at a dated kitchen before long.

A kitchen desk

We’re not sure who thought it would be a good idea to put a desk in the kitchen, but we’re appalled that this idea even exists. For starters, why would you want to work in the kitchen? Between the sounds of bustling activity and the constant scent of food wafting toward your nose, you’ll never get anything done.

A kitchen desk

Furthermore, having your office desk in the kitchen is just begging for food stains on your paperwork (yuck). If you need a desk, put it in the office. Leave the kitchen for food prep, okay?

Pots and pans rack

On the surface, a rack for your pots and pans may seem like a brilliant idea. It’s a great way to keep your cookware organized, and you’ll be able to see at-a-glance what pots and pans you have on hand.

Pots and pans rack

However, if you’re not a professional chef, this can read as very pretentious and definitely a little bit overkill for a regular kitchen. If you don’t have a handful of Michelin stars to your name, avoid investing in a pan rack. It’s tacky and, according to Joanna, entirely unnecessary.

Words on your wall

We all have mantras and little sayings that we live by. Whether it’s an inspirational quote, a line from a spiritual book, or family motto, they can be both inspiring and encouraging. However, while they may have a place in your life, they have zero place on your walls.

Words on your wall

Sure, framing a calligraphy-penned message and hanging it on your wall can be a subtle way to share your beliefs with the world, please resist — at all costs — painting them directly onto your wall. It’s really hard to imagine anything more tacky than that.

Room reminders

There’s really nothing more subtly insulting than having room reminders on your walls. You know what we’re talking about: hanging above the kitchen sink is a sign in a flowy script that reads, “Kitchen.” Or in your living room, it says in a just as flowery print, “Living Room.”

Room reminders

Look, you’re a smart person. We promise you, you’re not going to suddenly get lost in your own home. Please don’t patronize your family members, your guests, or even yourself. And please, we’re begging you, please do not put one of these signs in your bathroom!

Tumbled marble

Adding tumbled marble can help add a rustic, historic charm to your home. Or, at least, that’s probably what you’re hoping when you consider installing it into your kitchen.

Tumbled marble

While tumbled marble can definitely add a little something to your home, it’s not going to be rustic charm. No, instead it’s going to make it look like you never actually clean the dirt off your walls. If you don’t want to be mistaken for a slob with extremely poor taste, it’s best to avoid this tacky material altogether.

Stark white appliances

When most people look at appliances for their home, there is a limited range of colors from which they can choose. For instance, you may consider a black stove and fridge combo. Or you may reach for a soft beige.

Stark white appliances

But if you’ve been thinking about getting all white appliances, you need to stop right there. It’s not so much that white is so blah and boring, but that white only looks pristine for so long. Trying to keep it looking bright and white will get seriously tedious before you know it.

Outdated and old lampshades

A lampshade serves a very important job: it helps to diffuse any light radiating from your light, creating a soft and attractive ambiance for your room. However, an old and outdated lampshade can certainly help cast shade… and not the kind that you’d find warm and inviting.

Outdated and old lampshades

While a classic, vintage lamp shade may not look out of place in a library, a beaded and tasseled shade will just look jarring and ugly in your modern living room. Make sure you find a shade that matches the current decor to avoid tarnishing an otherwise attractive room.

French country style

France has quite a reputation as being one of the more fashionable countries in the world, with many haute couture designers hailing from Paris. However, if you’re trying to capture the rustic appeal of the French countryside, please abstain.

French country style

While it looks absolutely chic within France itself, we both know that you’re going to completely miss the mark if you attempt this style in your own house. Listen, you live in the city (or suburbia)…not the French countryside. It’ll reek of inauthenticity and will come across as completely gauche.

Harsh fluorescent lighting

There’s a time and a place for fluorescent lighting, and neither the time nor the place is your current home. If you were downtown in the middle of an interrogation with a suspect and you wanted to get them to crack under the pressure of your questions? Yes, go for that bold lighting.

Harsh fluorescent lighting

But in your home, where you want to relax and unwind after a long day? Skip the fluorescents completely. Instead, get some standard incandescent (or even LED) lights for your home. Your eyes — and your guests — will thank you.

Mason (or Ball) jars

You know what mason jars are good for? Pickling food. Storing jam. Maybe — and we mean just maybe — a cold drink on a hot summer’s day. Even that’s pushing it just a little bit, though. Mason jars are fantastic multitaskers, but they have no place in your home.

Mason (or Ball) jars

Do not try to make a lamp out of a mason jar. Please don’t stick a flower in it and call it a vase. And above all, avoid trying to make an “artistic” centerpiece out of it. We really can’t imagine anything more tacky than that.

Overdone artwork

Throughout the years, we’ve been very fortunate to have had some phenomenal artists walk the planet. From Vincent Van Gogh to Leonardo da Vinci, their art transcends time and still manages to touch the hearts of those who view it.

Overdone artwork

Why wouldn’t you want to hang a replica of one of their masterpieces on your wall? If it’s good enough for the Louvre, it’s good enough for you. First of all, this art is so cliche, it’s boring. And secondly, nobody is going to think you have a real-deal Picasso hanging in your living room.

Excessive knick-knacks

The occasional knick-knack here or there can be a perfectly fine way of adding a pop of personality to a room. Maybe it’s a statuette you got from your travels, or it was a trinket given to you from a loved one.

Excessive knick-knacks

But these little baubles can quickly add up, and before you know it, your mantle — and every other surface in the room — is buried alive in these knick-knacks. Not only does it make your room look sloppy and cluttered, they can be a real pain to keep clean and free from dust.

“Live, Laugh, Love” signs

We personally don’t take affront with the message behind all the “live, laugh, love” signs hanging on the walls of the houses across the nation. It’s upbeat, heartfelt, and inspiring. Where we take umbrage isn’t the message itself, but rather, how completely overdone and tired this trend is.

“Live, Laugh, Love” signs

When people first started using this phrase in their home decor, it was a fun and whimsical message. These days, it shows a complete lack of original thought or creativity in your decorations. Frankly, it’s completely tacky, and we agree with Joanna that it should be avoided.

Shag carpeting

Way back in the 1970s, shag carpeting was all the rage. Everyone was decorating their homes with it, and today, it all but defines this bygone era. And, to Joanna, it should remain bygone. Not only do the tendrils of carpeting feel weird under your feet, they look awful, too.

Shag carpeting

She has said that shag carpeting resembles hairpieces, which is never a good look for your home. If you wouldn’t place layers of wigs upon your floor, then why would you reach for shag carpeting? Instead, stick with a more modern look for your carpet.

Windows without curtains

Nothing can help make your home look brighter, more cheerful, and more inviting than natural sunlight streaming through your windows. Of course, while natural lighting is an eco-friendly way to illuminate a room, leaving your curtains unadorned is also arguably one of the more tacky ways to decorate your home.

Windows without curtains

Who wants all that dazzling light pouring through their windows first thing in the morning? And you totally know that your neighbors (whether they want to or not) will steal a peek into your home. For both of your sakes, please use curtains.

Plastic (or melamine) dishes

There’s no shame in having a few plastic forks or plates hidden away in your cupboard…if, of course, you’re a college aged student. However, if you’re a fully grown adult (read: you have a career, a mortgage, and a relatively keen sense of style), then there’s no reason to have plastic or melamine flatware in your house.

Plastic (or melamine) dishes

While nobody expects you to purchase an expensive set of bone china, a matching porcelain or stoneware set won’t set you back too much (and will look much better, according to Joanna).

Pallet coffee tables

Pallets serve a very important purpose: they help provide a platform for moving goods and products via forklift. And, if you asked Joanna Gaines, she’d matter-of-factly remind you that this is all they should be good for. For some reason, DIY-ers have fallen in love with the idea of making their own coffee tables out of discarded wooden pallets.

Pallet coffee tables

While it may have been a fresh idea at first, it’s tired and — even worse — it looks sloppy. Instead of using literal trash to make your furniture, Gaines advises you skip over this trend entirely.

A mountain of pillows

A pile of pillows resting on a couch is surprisingly deceptive. Pillows are soft and plush and inviting, which makes it seem like the couch is the perfect place for you to rest up and read a book or watch television.

A mountain of pillows

However, while one or two pillows are juuuust right, adding more than that? It starts to give the impression that the couch was designed for pillows to rest upon and not yourself or your guests. If you have an excessive amount of pillows on your couch, pull them off immediately.

Distressed kitchen cabinets

If you’re going for a vintage look in your house (especially if your home is historic), it can be tempting to want to install distressed cabinets in your kitchen.

Distressed kitchen cabinets

After all, an overly polished look can quickly make your home start to look like a museum instead of an actual home. If you’re feeling the urge to spring for distressed cabinets (or you want to distress them yourself), resist it. Not only can it make your home look cheaper, it’ll also be jarring and out of place in a brand-new house.

Wooden mallard ducks

Okay, we’ll be the first to admit that this is a very specific thing to call out. However, wooden mallards are so darn tacky that we had to address them head-on.

Wooden mallard ducks

While we can admire the craftsmanship that goes into making one of these wooden duck figurines, we merely maintain that they do not belong in your house. Even if you’re going for a country-meets-rustic vibe, you’re going to miss the mark completely if you have one of these flightless birds in your home.

A shot glass collection

Very few things are as tacky as shot glasses. Even if you’re not into late night partying anymore, having a collection of shot glasses proudly on display in your house still implies it. Now, Joanna wants to make it clear that she doesn’t have any issue with people collecting things.

A shot glass collection

We all do it, whether it’s postage stamps or coins or something else. The difference is that we don’t put that hobby out for everyone to “admire.” If you’re no longer in a fraternity, then your shot glass collection has no place in your home.

Wood paneled walls

Interior decorating can definitely be a little confusing. Oftentimes, there’s a stark difference between what you were going for and what you actually ended up with. This is particularly true for wood paneling.

Wood paneled walls

While the intention may have been “cabin in the woods,” it instead comes across more like a horror slasher film from the 1980s. Unless you want your guests to start making excuses to leave early (while also exchanging nervous glances with one another), then you should skip the wood paneling on your walls altogether.

Monochromatic couch pillows

There’s a right way and a wrong way to put pillows on your couch, and if it’s covered in pillows that also happen to be the same color of the couch, then guess what? You did it the wrong way.

Monochromatic couch pillows

Adding pillows with an accent color is a great way to make your living room look fresh and modern. However, if your couch is a dull shade of blue, and your pillows are also the same uninspired spectrum, your lack of creativity can come off as very tacky.

Mounted animal heads

There’s only one situation where Joanna wants to see animal heads: when they’re firmly resting on the shoulders of the animal, where they belong. The problem with animal heads isn’t just the fact that they’re somewhat morbid; it’s also that they also come across as bragging about one’s hunting skills, which is never attractive.

Mounted animal heads

While Joanna isn’t about to tell you that you need to find new hobbies, she will tell you that if you don’t want your home to look tacky, hide the spoils of your hunt where nobody can see them.

Color-changing lights

The concept of “mood” lighting certainly isn’t a new idea, but it’s one that makes Joanna grimace when she sees it. To her, the only time that color-changing lights are ever a good idea is if you’re at a nightclub.

Color-changing lights

Otherwise, it comes off as juvenile (read: a tween’s room, or a college dorm) and yes — you guessed it — tacky. Unless the mood you’re trying to give off is, “I never really grew up,” then skip the color-changing lights completely. If you’re trying to set a relaxing mood, then install soft warm beige lights instead.