8 Things That Are Making Your Home Feel Less Finished

The duo at the Finish shares their tips for completing your space.

Things That Are Making Your Home Feel Less Finished
Photo: Courtesy of The Finish

Have you ever looked at your home and felt like something was, well…off? Sure, the paint color is on-point, the furniture is proportionate with your room, and you have everything you need. Still, it feels like something is off. But, what?

That's exactly what inspired Stephanie Purzycki and Kaitlin Madden to launch The Finish. Both design enthusiasts in their own right—Purzycki is the owner of Drive Hospitality and Madden is the global editor in chief of Real Homes—they saw a gap in the market for dwellers who wanted sound design advice but didn't have the budget to enlist a professional. In other words? The Finish is here to help you, quite literally, finish a room.

"The finishing touches are what pull a room together and make it look like an intentionally designed, personal space," explains Purzycki. "So many people go into decorating a space and they get so close to creating something really beautiful, but just aren't sure how to complete it."

Let's face it: We've all been there. To help solve your latest design dilemma, Purzycki is sharing exactly what's keeping your home from feeling complete, and how to fix that mistake, stat. Whether you're new to the decorating game or still struggling with that one room, you're just a few scrolls away from a beautiful, finished space.

Mistake No. 1: Absent Wall Art

They say beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, but who knew choosing art can be so stressful? Not only is the art you choose a direct reflection of your style—no pressure or anything—but there are also many options to choose from. Admittedly, the whole process can be so overwhelming that it's tempting to forgo art altogether. However, art-free walls aren't any better.

"Bare walls feel sterile and uninviting, even if you have a roomful of gorgeous furniture," Purzycki shares. "We always try to help our clients take the seriousness out of art."

Instead, Do This: Pick Art You Love

As she puts it, you don't need a reason for your wall art beyond it being something you love. And, best of all? Great art doesn't have to cost you a small fortune.

Nicola McLaughlin San Antonio, TX Home Living Room After
Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

"You can frame 20 of your kids' drawings in the family room and create a gallery wall," Purzycki recommends. "Or, order a print from Minted or Etsy simply because it catches your eye."

Affordable and eye-catching? Consider us sold!

Mistake No. 2: Wimpy Window Treatments

Make no mistake, your window treatments are primarily practical; they keep harsh sunlight and nosy neighbors out of sight. But, just because they serve a utilitarian purpose doesn't mean they should be ignored.

"The right window treatments can dramatically transform a space, but they can also be expensive or cumbersome to put up," Purzycki explains. "Oftentimes, our clients will feel paralyzed by the decision about what to choose because they don't want to make a mistake, and they'll live with the wooden blinds that were on the windows when they bought the home."

Choosing new window treatments might seem nerve-wracking, but they make a huge difference.

Mistake #2: Wimpy Window Treatments
Courtesy of The Finish

"[They] add so much to a room: warmth (literal and aesthetic), color, pattern, and privacy," she says. "Sometimes, they're really all a room needs to feel complete."

Instead, Do This: Match Window Treatment By Window Type

There are several categories of window treatments—curtains, drapes, blinds, shutters, and shades—and they all have their own nuances. Knowing some of the differences between them and how they work with different windows can help you choose the best window treatments for your rooms. For a crash course in window treatments, check out our guide to finding the right one for your space.

Purzycki isn’t the only one who thinks that window treatments are a must for a finished-feeling home. Nashville, Tennessee-based interior designer Lauren Bradshaw says that she feels “really strongly about drapery.”

“Good quality drapery of the proper size and fullness makes such a huge difference into making the house complete,” Bradshaw says. “Not only does it look finished, but also from a sound-absorption standpoint, it just starts to make the house feel more grounded.”

Mistake No. 3: The Wrong Rug

While a rug is an essential part of any room, it can be easy to get this décor essential wrong.

"One of the biggest issues we see, aside from just not having a rug at all, is rugs that are too small," Purzycki says. "They throw off the scale of the room or make it feel like it's lacking something."

Mistake #3: The Wrong Rug
Courtesy of The Finish

The good news is buying the right rug for your space doesn't have to be tricky; it all boils down to finding the perfect dimensions.

Instead, Do This: Follow Sizing Guidelines Designers Go By

"If it's in a living room, for example, at least the front legs of every piece of furniture should sit on the rug, if not the entire piece of furniture," she explains. "If it's a dining room, all of your chair legs should remain on the rug even when the chairs are pulled out from the table."

To get more grounded on picking the best rug for your room, check out these tips from designers on how to prepare and what to consider before shopping for a rug.

Mistake No. 4: A Haphazardly Decorated Space

Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither is your well-decorated space. While you should never rush through the design process, Purzycki recommends coming up with a game plan first.

"There's a common saying that goes something like, 'If you like it, buy it, and it will all work together somehow,'" she says. "Unless you're a designer with a well-defined aesthetic, this can backfire on you, because a lot of us have a few different styles or colors we love, and they don't always work together."

Instead, Do This: Narrow Down A Style With Mood Boards

Instead of purchasing items that look good—but you have no idea what you'll do with them—Purzycki recommends spending some gathering inspiration. From there, whittle down your mood board to a few images that you can refer to as you shop.

"If you're not a professional designer, pick a style and a color palette and stick within it," she says.

Mistake #4: A Haphazardly Decorated Space
Courtesy of The Finish

That said, following the rules doesn't have to be boring. If you want to bring some personality to your space, try picking up a fun accent chair or a cool mirror from your local vintage store.

"Every room has a place for a few items that offer a bit of contrast or things that are slightly imperfect," Purzycki says. "It makes a space more interesting."

Mistake No. 5: Dull Paint

Raleigh, North Carolina-based designer Cameron Jones tells us that another piece of the puzzle towards a more finished home is the paint on the walls. She warns us not to underestimate “the power of paint.”

For some spaces, some color on the walls can make all the difference, she says. For others, just a touch up can go the distance.

Instead, Do This: A Fresh Coat Of Paint

White Dining Room with Large Rectangular Bleach Wood Table
Photo: Andrea Carson; Design: LTW Design

Adding some color is a great way to help a place feel more personalized and complete,” Jones says. “Sometimes it's not even about the color, it's just more about the freshness.”

Whether it’s a new color or the same one currently on the walls, a fresh layer can make a world of difference in freshening the place up and making it feel finished.

Mistake No. 6: Dingy Lighting

“People underestimate how dingy-feeling a room can be,” says Jones. If your rooms are never really bright enough, then a lack of light just might be the thing that’s holding your house back from feeling finished. 

Also pay attention to the types of lighting fixtures that you have, Jones recommends. Just one source of light likely won’t be enough.

Instead, Do This: Layer Up On Lights

Firstly, Jones advises making sure that your light fixtures are up to date. Dim ceiling fan bulbs and old boob lights just won’t do, she says. Instead, a variety of ambient lighting is the way to go.

Ellen Godfrey's Birmingham Bungalow with Green Chairs
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Lydia Pursell

“I think that sometimes when people just rely on overhead lights, it can feel kind of stale and stark," Jones tells us. Having lamps and picture lights and other kinds of ambient lighting can not only make a room feel more finished but cozier, too.”

Bradshaw says that her trick to a completed space is lighting at every level. That means ceiling lights or wall sconces up top, in addition to table lamps or floor lamps at eye level. When possible, Bradshaw also recommends putting lights on a dimmer so that your lighting is adjustable. This way, your home can feel finished any time of day. 

Mistake No. 7: Monotony

Monotone rooms may have been cool once upon a time, but they’ve fizzled out for a reason. Having just one color lacks a liveliness that makes a space feel complete. Just one color isn’t enough. You need more

Neutral lovers have no fear, however. We’re not recommending a hectic space of busy decor, but rather a dynamic and compelling one that feels warm and cozy.

Instead, Do This: Add Color, Pattern, And Texture

Trendy living room
Hector Sanchez; Styled by Jared Hughes

Jones says that there are three components necessary for a completed space: texture, color, and pattern. At the very least, she recommends choosing two of the three to build on.

“You need all of those things, but you can be afraid of color and have a really warm and comforting home with a neutral palette as long as you've got texture and pattern incorporated in there,” she says. “Any kind of combination of those is going to help the home feel more finished for sure.”

Mistake No. 7: A Lack Of Life

The last thing that you want is for your home to feel stiff and lifeless. Even with no one in the room, a space should feel lively and bright. If you’re looking at your empty room and can’t understand why it feels dull, Jones and Bradshaw have a not-so-secret solution: literally add life. Of course, they mean plants.

Instead, Do This: Introduce Plants

“I'm a huge advocate for adding plants when possible. It makes the house feel like it's got that living energy,” Bradshaw says, with Jones in agreement. Incorporating plants on windowsills or countertops breathes life into a space—as long as you can remember to water them.

Snake Plant
Oscar Wong / Getty Images

“I always ask clients what their ability is to keep a plant alive,” Bradshaw reveals. If the answer isn’t encouraging, or if there’s not enough natural light to allow for real plants, then fake blooms or dried ones will do just the trick, too.

This is also a great way to incorporate color!

Mistake No. 8: No Personality

It should go without saying that a home that doesn’t feel like yours can’t possibly be complete. Even if your rooms are decorated with the most gorgeous furniture and stylish decor, without any personal elements it still won’t feel finished. 

A fully decorated house isn’t finished until it’s a home. In fact, we’d even argue that you’re never fully finished decorating your home. As life goes on, you’ll continue to collect the pieces that will make your space feel more and more complete because they carry meaningful memories.

Instead, Do This: Make It Your Own

Give your home character by adding things with personal significance. Not only will they be visually pleasing, but their true beauty will come in the way they will make your space feel. So go crazy with your mementos, favorite books, and family photos. If you’re worried about them clashing with your otherwise organized decor, Bradshaw says that an easy and elegant trick is getting your photos printed in black and white.

Living room with artwork
Laurey W. Glenn; Styling by Lindsey Ellis Beatty

“I think having those personal touches like framed photos and art that has meaning from travels or from places that have been collected over time go a long way to making homes feel complete,” Jones says.

“A home that feels finished is reflective of who lives there.”

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles