Report says 80% of us are embarrassed by our homes – an interiors expert has the solutions

Half of us over-spend, too. An interior expert suggests following these tips so that home is somewhere to feel proud of

colourful living room with patterned wallpaper, ottoman and sofa
(Image credit: Future / Carolyn Barber/ Kate French)

It is perhaps only inevitable to draw inspiration from your friends and neighbors' homes – whether they help you discover a new paint color, kitchen appliance, or houseplant. However, the comparisons we make between our homes is causing many to overspend and overcompensate to avoid embarrassment – according to a new study. 

Of the 1,088 people surveyed, only 17% said they had no reason to be embarrassed by their home, while, 3 in 4 homebuyers confessed that their decorating ideas are chosen to impress their social circles. 

The report from MoneyWise explained that 51% of people were most embarrassed by the cleanliness of their home, 46% by its style, and 39% by its size. Respondents spent an average of $3,310 on new home decor and interior design trends in the last year, and those who said they were influenced by social media spent 62% more than those who did not.

Cleaning a house is something we can all remedy with time or money, while a home's proportions can be improved with clever layout ideas and space-enhancing tricks. Style choices, however, seem to be what is causing the extra expense and anxiety – though there are some simple techniques we can use to save money, and embarrassment, in future.

How to avoid home embarrassment – according to an architect

double height living room with gray green walls, chandelier, woodburner, neutral sofas and armchair

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

If you find yourself admiring a certain color of a piece of decor (whether in your friend's home or on social media), then it is always good to recreate this look in a way that works in your home. However, there are ways to ease home embarrassment without overspending or renovating your space entirely. Architect and designer Andrei Vasilief recommends following these 3 tips when you're tempted to overcompensate. 

1. Invest in timeless pieces

White living room ideas with Scandi interior

(Image credit: Future / Jon Day)

If you're going to spend on new home decor, it is better to choose something that won't fall out of fashion in the coming season. 

'While some [trends] are great and can stick around, they will mostly look outdated in a couple of years,' Andrei says. 

Instead, he urges us to go timeless: whether decorating with ever-popular prints, such as gingham, or opting for neutral colors that will don't date quickly. 

'Scandinavian decor is a good example of this, it's been around a while and will probably stick around simply because it looks good and is practical,' he adds. 

2. Always combine style and practicality

Shelves decorated with plants

(Image credit: Future / Mary Wadsworth)

While some popular interior design ideas look great on social media, they are not always practical or easy to maintain. Therefore, Andrei urges us to think carefully about what will continue to work in our homes, months after us first make the investment. 

If you are able to pick up a piece that looks good and does good (such as using a bookshelf to zone an open-plan space), then you can enjoy a versatile room that will feel organized and is always good-looking. 

'This will make your house clutter-free and feel great to live in,' he says. 'It will also dispel the feeling of embarrassment, as it will feel like your home,' he says. 

3. Stay aware of your space

living room with yellow walls black sofa and framed portrait and old standard lamp

(Image credit: Brent Darby)

It is often inevitable we fall for a certain furnishings when they work so well in a particular space. However, the architect warns that this doesn't mean they will look the same in your own home. 

'Just because something looks good in one setting, doesn't mean it will look good in another,' he says. 'For example, a large sofa works in a large living room, not in a small one – and it's best to avoid hanging light fixtures at standard ceiling height. These are just some examples, but every interior has a  series of limitations to work with rather than against.'

'We're all prone to inspiration from our social feed and those in our circles, and in many ways, that is part of the fun of interior design,' says H&G's Editor in Chief, Lucy Searle. 

'However, I think it is important avoid impulse buying, and to follow Andrei's advice: buy timeless, well-made pieces you will love for a long time (it's greener, too); choose consistent color schemes and room designs that work well with your home's period, style and proportions; and carefully consider whether anything you buy or change could improve your home's functionality (such as storage for clearing clutter) as well as aesthetics. And don't be swayed by passing trends. This way, your design decisions will endure for many seasons to come, and more importantly, you will continue to love them and feel proud of where you live.' 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.