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Design Mistake: Anything “Antiqued” or “Faux Old”



I used to say that I hated anything “fake” or “faux” – anything that was trying to fool you into thinking that it was real, when it wasn’t. This included water bras, cubic zirconium and female (or male) butt implants. But that’s not the case anymore – at least not in the home realm. I love engineered wood (and wish I had installed that in our house), I have fake logs in my fireplace (and love the ease of it), I don’t mind some bonded leather, I LOVE a lot of polyester that looks like linen or velvet (for durability and stain resistant reasons), I prefer faux fur over the real stuff and Lord knows my weekly spray tan is integral to my life these days.

But when something is “faux old” or “antiqued” I get upset. There are a few larger culprits of this in the home design world that I consider a design mistake, and should be avoided when possible (and it’s almost always possible). I get that people want a traditional/antique look (I do, too), and often that can be expensive, but going for a faux aged piece is a mistake and will look cheap, tacky, and cheesy. So let’s “out” those major culprits and hopefully put a stop to both the manufacturing and consuming of them.

But first in case you missed any of our other design mistakes here they all are: The Generic Sofa Roundup | Rugs That Are Too Small | Painting A Small, Dark Room White | Bad Wood FinishesHow To Hang Curtains | How To Hang Art Correctly | Generic Art | Not Having A Plan | Who Pays For Design Mistakes | My Biggest Design Mistakes -And What You Can Learn From Them

Now let’s get into it.

1. Faux Painted Shabby Chic: People are still doing this, and it’s just so weird. Anything that has been scraped or sanded to purposefully look run down is bad, and it doesn’t work. An old chippy painted chest can be beautiful, but buying a piece that has been treated that way, always looks just like that – a new piece that has been treated. DIY-ing a piece to look like that almost always just looks try-hard and tacky.

Don’t do that. Instead I found many new pieces that give you the antique feeling, without being fauxed.

Design Mistakes_Faux No Mo_Roundup_Antique Inspired Furniture Accessories

1. Side Chair | 2. Black Chest | 3. Marble Lamp | 4. Headboard | 5. Mirror | 6. White Secretary Dresser | 7. Bookends | 8. Sofa | 9. Chandelier | 10. Tufted Bench | 11. Dinnerware | 12. Pillows

If you want a traditional feel, look for antique and classic lines (a curve of a leg, some carving) in classic finishes (wood, marble, upholstery, brass or silver). Avoid pieces that look like they’ve been treated or scraped to look like it’s survived decades.

2. Faux Industrial: This style has become so popular that even larger companies are making fake factory carts, and treating them with paint that is supposed to look all rusty. You can absolutely buy simple industrial style pieces, pieces that reference the style without pretending to be original and old. But please stay away from anything that looks all fake “ye-oldie.” Furthermore, real old industrial-factory pieces are easy to find at flea markets or thrift stores.

Design Mistakes_Faux No Mo_Industrial_Bad

To be fair individual pieces, like these above, can be fine, and if you have one or two don’t cancel Thanksgiving at your house. But opt for some of these instead:

Design Mistakes_Faux No Mo_Roundup_Industrial Inspired Furniture Accessories

1. Leather Sling Chair | 2. Chandelier | 3. Dustpan | 4. Metal Nesting Tables | 5. Canvas Basket | 6. Bed | 7. Table | 8. Stool | 9. Pendant Light | 10. Side Table | 11. Concrete Lamp | 12. Stool

These all feel industrial without having any fake aging. Look for simple black or colored metal shaped furniture and accessories that have simple lines in very utilitarian shapes/finishes.

3. Faux Old Wall and Floor Treatments: If you recently installed “hand scraped” flooring or faux marbled your walls stop reading right here, PLEASE. If you are about to do one of those things then please, please read on.

Hand scraped flooring came about so that many commercial or larger residential projects (like apartment buildings) wouldn’t look like they had scratches or dents after a lot of wear and tear – as the flooring is actually full of dents, otherwise known as “hand scraping.”

Design Mistakes_Faux No Mo_Hand Scraped_Bad

Now I don’t know if it’s actually scraped by hand or not, but regardless it’s meant to look older and it doesn’t. It just looks like a machine has purposefully scraped it.

Design Mistakes_Faux No Mo_Side By Side_Handscraped Floor

This is a really expensive mistake and I apologize to all of you who have made this one, because undoing it is neither easy or cheap, and you should just forget you ever read this. It’s also NOT that big of a deal, I promise, and I have seen some that are TOTALLY fine. The last thing I want is for people to be super bummed by these posts, but at the same time I also know that I can catch a few people from making a potentially less-great expensive decision.

I know that reclaimed wood flooring is often cost-prohibitive, so here are some great wood flooring options that I think look really good in an old house (or a new house where you want that ‘modern farmhouse’ feeling). Disclaimer: I have not seen all of these in person (one is even a laminate that looks REALLY good online) so please order samples before you just purchase.

Design Mistakes_Faux No Mo_Roundup_New Wood Flooring

1. Oak Engineered Plank | 2. Mohawk Industries Vintage | 3. Miseno Sonoma | 4. Mohawk Pure Maple Natural | 5. Grey Mist Hickory | 6. Mohawk Crema Maple | 7. Mohawk Flint Maple | 8. Mediterranee Oak | 9. Smoked White Oak 

We have the same problem with walls. Some people are drawn to an older texture on the wall. I’m assuming there aren’t a lot of you in the audience that do this, but just in case we need to call it out. If you live in anything post 1930 then you should probably not put a heavy plaster-look on your walls. If you live in a castle in Spain, then you may. Same with marbling – don’t do it. I LOVE a rustic French chateau look, where the walls have been painted a million times and the plaster is thick and uneven, but that’s because its true to the style and original to the home. Do not do this:

Design Mistakes_Faux No Mo_Textured Walls_Texture

or this:

Design Mistakes_Faux No Mo_Textured Walls_Texture_Side By Side_Bad

People do the above when they want just a bit of texture and movement on the walls, and they think it adds character, charm and age to a space. Unfortunately this is not true. But it is possible to do it in a modern, fresh way. So, my new favorite thing to do (and something that I’ll be talking about more this year) is a lime-wash paint. I did it in my new guest suite (that you haven’t seen yet) and it looks beautiful. It’s not trying to look old, but it is a texture that has movement. I bought mine at Portola and while it hasn’t been photographed yet, trust me that it is BEAUTIFUL. Very similar to this:

Design Mistakes_Faux No Mo_Textured Walls_Texture_Lime Wash

Design Mistakes_Faux No Mo_Textured Walls_Texture_Side By Side_Good

It’s subtle and isn’t trying to add “age, ” yet adds so much character, depth and texture.

In conclusion . . . fake “old” very, very, very rarely works. The best thing you can do to avoid it is to buy things that are legitimately old, and if that is out of budget or unavailable (or sometimes not functional anymore), then think about buying pieces that reference being an antique without having a faux finish.

**Disclaimer – I haven’t seen every single faux-ed piece of furniture or wall in the world, and I’m sure there are some beautiful versions of these bad ones that I’ve outlined above. These design mistake posts are general guidelines, from my years of experience, but there may certainly exist some faux aged pieces by some DIY folk that are lovely.  I will say that I don’t mind faux mercury glass pieces and often an ‘aged brass’ fixture is perfect. 

In case you missed any of our other design mistakes/PSA’s, head on over to these posts: The Generic Sofa Roundup | Rugs That Are Too Small | Painting A Small, Dark Room White | Bad Wood FinishesHow To Hang Curtains | How To Hang Art Correctly | Generic Art | Not Having A Plan | Who Pays For Design Mistakes | My Biggest Design Mistakes -And What You Can Learn From Them


***limewash photo sources: 1, 2, 3 

Fin Mark


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Really great design advice here!!! Thanks so much for sharing this.

BTW, Emily, can you please share the link of how you hand painted the Target glass lamps in your Guest Room Makeover? The post said you were going to share a DIY on that but I couldn’t’ fine it. 🙂


I love the lime wash, I cant wait to see your new guest suite! As someone living in a 1925 rental with real aged wood floors, I can’t say that I want choose to faux replicate it! They’re uneven and nicked!


I was wandering thru an “antique store” the other day, and there were painted pieces that were supposed to “look old” but actually only looked like they had 1 coat of paint but need 2. At first, when those were few and far between and done well, I was drawn to them…but now, I can’t even look. So many are done so poorly. The market is saturated!! (I also secretly enjoy searching craifslists and finding and gawking the best examples of what not to do to “refinish” a piece.)


There is sooo much of this on Craigslist, people refinishing with a “shabby chic” look and then selling it as a value-add.

Another thing I do on craigslist to amuse myself is look for “chester” in furniture. You might even find a “shabby-chic” “chester” if you’re lucky!


Good ol’ Chester Drawer! 😉


Someone buying a dresser from me actually CORRECTED me when I said “chest of drawers.” “Honey,” she said, “I’m so sorry to embarrass you but it’s called a Chester Drawers.” *facepalm*


Nooooooo. Man…I LOVE people and their quirks! This is hilarious and sad and charming all at once.


I read this with a Southern drawl.


In NJ chest of drawers are referred to draws on craigslist. Cracks me up.

I’m sad you didn’t call out badly antiqued bronze and brass and nickel finishes. I’ve seen so much bad metal that’s pre-patinaed in a totally unbelievable way, and sometimes it’s then coated in a gross lacquer that peels off and reveals the faux-ness for what it was. So bad. Consumer-quality metals in the home (door hardware, lighting, even oven knobs) have really cheaped out over time.

Yes, I was thinking the same, faux aged hardware is horrific! And aged hardware almost never looks good


One of my favorite thrift store finds ever was a pair of gorgeous vintage Stiffel lamps with a lovely, really patina. That fake patina is so weird.


LOVE these posts – I read this post just in time (phew)… we are doing a total gut reno to our new home. I want to install laminate because it is more durable and a better choice for this phase of our life. I have been seriously considering the ‘hand scraped’ because in some homes that I have seen it looked and felt more real to me. So what I am getting from this post then is just do a flat finish with laminate? You think that looks more ‘real’? Second question – I love the look of marble for… Read more »

Hi, Melissa.
We actually found a laminate very similar to Emily’s floor recommendation number 1 in color. It has some texture, but isn’t like the handscraped manufactured looking textures. It looks like old barnwood, but has the ease of laminate. We have small kids and a large dog, and a real wood floor would have been too expensive an investment in our starter home neighborhood. We found it at Floor and Decor Outlet.

I was shocked at how good some of the laminates are in person. They look just like real wood. I don’t know if I would do them in a really old house, but man, for durability sake they are soooo good for how real they look. nobody would know. our ‘real wood’ floors are soooooooooo beautiful but they dent so easily.


Thanks for the tip – I will have to look there!

I’ve seen some really excellent porcelain made to look like marble, and I’m personally not opposed to it at all, especially if you intend to use it on the floor. If you pick one that looks “real” enough, I think it’s a totally reasonable place to save money and maintenance. It also passes the “does this make sense?” test. As in, it’s perfectly reasonable to see 1×2 or 2×2 marble tiles on floors, so it doesn’t seem out of place in that environment, whereas an 8 x 20 wall of golden marble is highly unlikely to occur in a suburban… Read more »


Thanks so much Sarah for your response! I was feeling stuck and I now feel much more confident with this choice. 🙂

Have you considered LVT/LVP (luxury vinyl tile/plank) instead of the laminate? It is a great alternative to hardwood – durable, easy to install, looks really nice.
Good luck with your renovation!


Hey Melissa! I’m no Emily but I love her style and work in the flooring industry. I completely agree with Sarah in terms of the glazed porcelain “faux marble”. A lot of times you can put them side by side and can’t tell the difference. Stay away from the “faux tumbled marble” though! In reference to the laminate, I might suggest a “wire scraped” look in a laminate. It’s a flat, matte surface, but it has a physical texture to it, as if it’s been scraped by wires (absolutely zero waves!!!). It’s very easy to live on and has a… Read more »


this is a great post, team emhen! i have to say, i have never understood the appeal of ‘hand scraped’ hardwood floors. they just look like the homeowner is trying way too hard. but if a ‘faux’ solution ups the durability factor and looks plausible, i’m all about it. as you pointed out, there are some great laminate (and even tile!) options out there for those of us (read: large dogs) who are hard on their floors but want them to be aesthetically pleasing.

It hurts so bad when people take actual antiques and give them a shabby chic painted finish! And why is it always turquoise?


haha soo true on the turquoise!! uhg.


Yes!!! I’m in a vintage yard sale group on Facebook and I wish I had all the money in the world to buy all the antiques before people paint them with chalk paint.


I remember ‘sponging’ my son’s nursery in the early 90’s. It was absolutely ugly, it kinda looked like my stretch marked stomach.

Elisa F

Shot hot tea out my nose, but totally worth it.


Mary, this made me laugh out loud!

We installed pine floors which are CHEAP and then used tung oil. Pine is soft and gets dented but since we don’t have a poly coat, it doesn’t looking scratched and plasticky. And I don’t have to worry about it wuitj four kids and a whole lot of trucks and dance parties.


So, I have the floors. They the real deal, oak hardwoods. Installed, hand scraped and stained and poly’d on site. They were in the house when we bought it and when I wanted more wood I matched it. I would probably not have picked these on my own, but they have made it possible for my large dogs to be less destructive. Since you are a cat person, I am guessing the “I must own a 90 pound Labrador disease” has never been a part of your flooring decision making world. ?

I think there’s a big difference between the pre-finished “hand scraped” and the stained on site versions. Something about flooring finished on site makes it look more authentic. I have the “I must own a 75 pound and 35 pound Hound disease” and our original 1950s oak flooring, which was refinished and stained a natural color shortly before we bought it, has held up SUPER well to their running around and wrestling, and our frequent vacuuming.


I’m sure they are beautiful. I would have done the same thing. When you have a quality feature, like real hardwood floors, I’d *almost* always say to keep them/leave them alone.

At some point our beautiful, original, solid, 125 year old, red oak floors were “refinished” by a previous owner…they were sanded perfectly smooth and look exactly like laminate flooring now. I kid you not.


Part of my problem with the faux hand-scraped stuff is that it is so perfect and uniform that you can tell the scraping isn’t real. I find the real deal looks much nicer.


We’re installing oil finished oak this year in the house and I’m really looking forward to it. Even though you have to oil them every so often making the maintenance more intensive than regular finished hardwood being able to hide the scratches with another coat of oil really appeals to me. We’re looking to get a dog soon so it’ll be well worth the extra work to keep the floors looking scratch free

I love this series SO much, especially because you provide solutions in addition to critiques. Those flooring pictures you showed look beautiful, but I also think people need to remember that pre-finished flooring isn’t their only option, and that flooring stained after the fact can wear a little more naturally. I also really like the look of the lime wash, but I’m a little confused because it feels like it’s faking it pretty hard. Especially in the two bottom pictures, those walls are obviously being made to look like concrete or plaster and I’m guessing they aren’t. It is miles… Read more »


Even though shabby chic isn’t my style, milk paint and chalk paint can do wonders to help restore an old piece in need of restoring that still needs to look old that perhaps someone destroyed by trying to refinish it poorly. Just because this style is clearly not in your wheelhouse you can’t discount it entirely. Also, you have a real problem with “faux industrial” but have a link to a TARGET bed??? Made in China, mass produced and imported Target bed… Yeah, no. I don’t usually comment negatively, Emily, but here I feel you are talking out of the… Read more »


AMEN! You said what I was thinking perfectly! Thank you!


Exactly! Thanks for saying what I was thinking.


I don’t think that was hypocritical at all. In the explanation it says: “You can absolutely buy simple industrial style pieces, pieces that reference the style without pretending to be original and old.” The stuff from Target is referencing industrial styles, but it doesn’t have fake rust painted on it.


she said she had a problem with faux aged industrial. not industrial style. the bed is not pretending to show age.

Lisa H.

I kind of expected some pushback on this post, simply because the “shabby chic” movement has such a devoted following. I think within Emily’s aesthetic, this post makes a lot of sense. However, I think that there are a lot of people who make these choices and make them happily. I would just consider it food for design thought, and only apply it if it makes sense to you personally. For example, based on her advice and a review of my Pinterest boards, I bought a much larger and lighter rug for my family room and LOVE the results. At… Read more »


Emily, I don’t know anything about lime wash and I love the look you have shown above. Would you do a piece on lime wash and how too do it some time?


I hate that I added an extra o to that too up there! My inside editor is wanting to fix it so bad.


Me! It’s me! You just saved me from buying “hand scraped” flooring. I’ve been looking for flooring for a while and I found one this week on sale that was hand scraped and since I thought it was fine looking I was going to pull the trigger this weekend. As soon as I read this post I felt . . . relief! I’m going to make sure I LOVE the flooring I buy instead of just buying what is on sale. Thanks for the tip to avoid hand scraped flooring! BTW- I LOVE all the design PSA’s.


My advice is to get an unfinished wood and have it sanded/finished onsite. The pre-finished wood pieces always have a beveled edge to the boards which jumps out at you from a mile away (not to mention traps dirt).


The marble lamp is from Target…what the!

I have agreed with your design mistakes posts thus far, but kinda disagree with this one. Don’t worry, still love you and still a fan! I wondered why, in your book, when doing the quiz of finding our style that you didn’t have any farmhouse or shabby chic (vintage) or any style near them as one of the styles….
I loved the quiz however just for fun! ~Kim


I agree….feels very much like just because Emily doesn’t like these styles that no one should? I mean, while the first picture of the faux finished paint made me shudder a little, that isn’t my home so why judge others who like that style? I have seen friends who have done that look and pulled it off…still not my jam, but to each there own!


There are hundreds of blogs that cater to the shabby chic look if that’s what you are into. This is not one of those blogs. I’m not sure why as a designer, people feel Emily is required to love every style out there. If you don’t like what she’s saying, maybe go read one of those other blogs to get your shabby chic fix?

Kate Lim

Kellie, I think they don’t mean that Emily is REQUIRED to love every style but she should have Shabby Chic or Farmhouse in her STYLE QUIZ. Which is in her book. And many people actually did her quiz. And many people are into Shabby Chic or Farmhouse style. That’s what they’re saying. 🙂


I think you have missed the point Katie- It is not that the shabby chic style is not on Emily’s blog, it is that Emily is usually open to all design options and this post is very against a few. I am actually a bit surprised that Emily wrote this. It seems a bit hypocritical and petty. Usually these posts are great, but this one is just making fun of people’s design choices instead of saying how to do things better. Also, let it be known, I am not a fan of shabby chic, hand scraped flooring, faux textured walls,… Read more »

Yessss, PREACH woman! The shabby chic, the manufactured industrial, the stucco look…make it stop!!


Pretty sure all these links link up to mass manufactured goods.


Laurie, you don’t get it.


Great post. I do enjoy this series. Can’t wait to hear about the lime wash.

Some have asked a similar question, but I’m considering the tile that looks like wood. Not scraped wood, more like light grey wood. I have 8, yes 8, dogs and 5 of them weigh more than 50lbs so the tile would likely be more cost effective AND more durable. Thoughts? I heart your blog!


Tara, Jenny from little green notebook did a post on this subject a few months ago that I think might help you:
Hope it helps!


These posts make me want to stop getting your emails. While I agree with some of these topics and actually have not done any of what you have mentioned in my own home, they are very judgmental. You even start the post by saying you have changed your mind on things over the years. Who is to say that your mind is not going to change on these topics next year? You tend to go back and forth on your opinion on things, which is fine, but why put down other people’s style in the process? How about bring us… Read more »


I totally agree. There has to be ways of expressing your design preferences while not putting down other people’s preferences. While the examples of the painted furniture in the first pictures are not my style, how are #2 and #6 in the recommended alternatives any different? They are just stupid expensive painted furniture. #6 has “hand-painted” right in its description! Sorry that I don’t have $1,100 to spend on someone else’s hand-painted desk nor do I want to have all Target and Ikea furniture in my home, which is the extent of my budget limitations if I want new furniture.… Read more »


I think what she is trying to get readers to avoid is the “faux distressed” look where you paint something then sand the edges and beat it around with a hammer to make it look old. Painting an older piece is totally different-Emily does this all the time with fantastic results! The point is it isn’t trying to be something it’s not, which can come off as cheesey.


If the older piece wasn’t painted to begin with, then merely painting it sans distressing is STILL making it something it wasn’t. Some people like this look…some don’t. End of story.

When words like “Cheap” and “tacky” and “will always look as such” .. are used…that kind of stings. I have found myself staring at my aqua painted furniture and feeling… kind of like the kid who has all the wrong clothes and the fake “nikes”. Maybe instead of making these “cheap and tacky” readers feel shitty about “design mistakes” Maybe with your HUGE platform, maybe help readers with what to do..NOT what to BUY, but what to DO with all the cheap and tacky shabby chic painted furniture that maybe THEY TOO am growing weary of…Maybe ideas for painting it… Read more »

LA Lady

Designers are paid to have a point of view. That means she likes some things and she dislikes other things. The fact that readers have a different point of view on some items is normal. She shouldn’t have to put a disclaimer at the bottom of each post saying this is just her opinion. Style is 100% subjective. Just take what you like from lots of different designers.

Yes, Emily doesn’t like Shabby Chic! That shouldn’t come as any surprise. Let her have her opinion. That’s what she gets paid for.


There are links at the bottom of the page linking these pictures to other people’s blogs. That is just bad taste! That is why this is a judgmental post – not a inspiring or helpful one. One that helps other at the expense of someone else is not something I can support! Plus, how is Target not mass manufactured?


she wasn’t referring to “mass manufactured”. she is clearly talking about mass manufactured trying to look like it was found in an old factory.


The links to people’s personal blogs with their projects also made me sad. Especially because those bloggers are going to start getting traffic from here and they will follow it back to this article 🙁 I know the intent of this article wasn’t to make anyone feel bad personally, but using other people’s blogs for photos of what not to do might be an unintentional public shaming. So I think using only store photos/products to illustrate what to avoid would have been the better way to go.

Megan C.

I see no links provided for the projects that are made examples of, only links to the beautiful lime wash photos and to the products Emily suggested.

Hey Lauren, we took these off (I didn’t know they were on there, actually). I feel terrible. As to everyone else, yep, its just my opinion and i’m only talking about the fake stuff. I love the real stuff when its chippy and distressed I PROMISE. I love legitiment antiques, the older and more distressed the better. Just not the new stuff trying to look old.

Kate Lim

Maybe it will be better next time someone check the post before it goes published because, I think I’m late to this, didn’t see any link to “design mistakes”. I think it’s awful to call out someone for their works to be “design mistakes”. I am trying to start my own blog and freelance career in my tiny country (in Asia) so I know I will be devastated if someone took my DIY or designs and slap it with a “design mistake” label.


I can still see the links when reading this post via bloglovin, btw.


I didn’t get that Emily was “putting down” a particular style but rather that faux/fake versions of said style look dated and possibly cheap.


i agree with Lindsay. she’s talking about pretending something is old. that faking it always looks cheesy, not that the style is cheesy.


Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you.

Can we add fake brick walls in buildings that are not constructed of brick?


Such a great post! In the Industrial Inspired product list the link to table #7 isn’t working, but I would love to know where it’s from.


Yes to everything!!! Another thing I find funny is the fact that back when each piece of truly antique furniture was new, it didn’t look old and tattered. It looked new because it was new! So really, if you want to go traditional, you should have it look like a new room did 200 years ago (or whenever). Not like the room would look if all the furniture was left in a damp barn until you pulled it out today! 🙂 Wonderful post!

I love the lime wash as well. I’ve never even heard of that name so I’m looking forward to hearing more about it!

Heather O.

Hi Emily, I really love this feature on your blog. I’ve been a huge fan since your Secrets from a Stylist days. That being said, I was so disappointed when I got to the bottom of today’s post and realized that some of the photos you used to feature these design “mistakes” are photos used in tutorials on people’s blogs. While the techniques they used may not be your taste or mine, there’s no reason you needed to choose photos that belong to real people that might be readers of your blog. I can’t imagine their reactions when they get… Read more »

We took them off 🙁 I actually didn’t notice that they were on there when it was prepped and yes, I feel terrible. Lesson learned. xx


If you read this post via Bloglovin you can still see the links to the other blogs. 🙁


People need to take a step back from all these posts and not take them so personally? I think for a lot of what Emily is mentioning, you need to be a professional to pull them off and pull them off well. Mid century pieces here and there looks great for example but I would not do my house full mid century without an outside eye and a professional. Similarly, I think, to all the things above. Also we are here to get her take on things. A real life stylist, designer person! How great is the Internet for these… Read more »


Not taking anything personal, as nothing she mentioned hits home with anything I have done myself. However, I can think of a million and one ways to go about explaining dos and don’ts of design that don’t involve putting down other people’s tastes, style and actual photos from other people’s blogs.

And for the love of God, can we me sent to buy something that isn’t sold at Target?

Kate Lim

She is a target spokeperson, nuff said. I’m being neutral when I say this.


Yes, thank you! Especially that over-Tuscaned 90’s textured wall treatment one. The alternative you gave reminds me of what Jersey Ice Cream Co does to some of their walls, which I LOVE.

I love that dresser and headboard in the first collage image! They’re so pretty!



I share your opinion on all of this, so it might hurt a little bit, but if this post saves someone from adding “faux” anything to their home, that’s a good thing. All of the walls in our 70s home have a stucco texture- I’ve seen/heard it called “chicken feet” or “stomp” or “rosebud” texture. Just… why???? Would love to know who to blame for this… We purchased the house last year and it doesn’t bother me that much, because all of the walls are painted a matte light grey so it masks it a bit. But I feel like… Read more »


how do you feel about grasscloth wallpaper? It would cover the texture and be less offensive, but it depends on your style.


Thanks, I love grasscloth, it’s beautiful and makes me reminisce of my grandmother’s den. Grannie is a frequent design inspiration for me! I’m sure there would be some smoothing in the process but wallpaper is actually a great idea for the smaller bedrooms. One room at a time, I guess!

I LOVE grasscloth. Like a lot.


Yes yes yes, a thousand times, yes. I have a 125 year old house. I love my old floors, patches and all, but I would never NEVER put in new “old” floors. Although I don’t think they are terrible in new construction. I just think that in a few years they might feel very 2015. As for “antiquing” pieces…again, I so agree. I have stripped paint off of old wooden furniture and given up before actually getting to the perfectly clean wood stage, but it’s REAL, not faux-looking. As for old furniture and antiques, I find it is FAR less… Read more »


I was thinking of doing chalk paint too but not distressing or waxing it, just making it modern and matte– still bad?


I Don’t know! That’s what I was going to do. Just to have that rich, matte finish…and supposedly it sticks to cabinets really well? I’m just afraid it will come off as too “rustic.”

Instead think I might go with a simple chalk white, or light “greige” satin or semi-gloss in traditional paint. The kitchen already has original exposed brickwork from the old stove flu AND I added a wall of that anthropologie etched arcadia wallpaper, so I don’t want every inch of it to be too “special.” We can’t have everyone getting whiplash!

I Love chalk paint. It’s awesome. Go for it!!! I think some texture is BEAUTIFUL, just not the faux shit.


I am just too lazy (and have an 11 month old!) to sand, prime, and paint all of our cabinets. Our new kitchen is huge and the cabinets are that yucky maple orange stain. I hate them, and chalk paint seems like the quickest way to cover their ickiness. And the matte finish makes me really happy. I think I’ll go for it– you do it too!!!

Cris S.

Julia – I have used chalk paint regularly (I like it a lot better than milk paint). I wouldn’t leave it on heavy use cabinets without some sort of top coat. It absorbs any kind of grease or dirt like crazy – even regular fingerprints, especially if you have just put on any kind of lotion. You want to be able to scrub your cabinets in case spaghetti sauce goes everywhere and these will just absorb the stain if unfinished. I’ve usually done the wax, but it can take a long time to ‘cure’ and get hard and frankly isn’t… Read more »

Chalk paint plain will look like any matte paint when finished – you are not at all required to distress or wax it. However, for longevity you would want to do a coating – wax eventually gives a beautiful patina when done right, but requires upkeep. Or you can do Poly (water based polycrylic or oil-based polyurethane [not for white – it yellows as you have experienced]), clear shellac, or varnish. With a child I would look for a water-based poly in a matte finish as least smelly. FYI shellac is the most child-friendly finish because it’s completely non-toxic if… Read more »


Thanks, Amanda!! Good tips! 🙂

Ok so the faux shabby chic really threw me off because I love that look but completely agree with you to not make it look old, actually buy old!! Thank you for your insight on that!

Your disclaimer cracks me up, haha. I completely 100% agree about the painted shabby chic look. Eeeevery once in a while I come across an example that isn’t completely awful but the vast majority of them are. A genuine antique with chippy paint can be so beautiful though, so I get why people try. I’m in a Facebook group for buying and selling “Shabby Chic and Repurposed” because a lot of the stuff on there is actually good vintage… but man have I seem some stuff. Regarding faux finished walls, I literally just published a post in which I proclaimed… Read more »

I love these mistakes you have brought up. I have a home decor and DIY blog. I collaborate with other bloggers frequently and there is still a large group that want to work on weathered, chipped paint pieces. It is something I have never been able to get into. If I want old and used I want the real deal. I do like the industrial look and the idea of people finding them in stores who are unwilling or cannot see the possibilities in used real pieces is a great option. Love your list and so relieved none of my… Read more »


Bless you for having the guts to say it!!! No more faux shabby chic! Those words bring vomit to my mouth and cause my eyes to roll up in my head. lol. I live in Georgia–I think it may be worse here than anywhere! Friends and family always ask for my design advice, but then send me pics of faux “shabby chic” crap and I’m like “do you!”. Why even ask when they know I don’t like that style???


Haha! I’d actually love a post about how to handle those calls and texts. I really struggle with how to handle it gracefully because I have a hard time lying and letting them go off down the ugly route, but how to stop them without being a total jerk.

I will say, I found I must ALWAYS find out how far along they are first. “What do you think of this tile for my kitchen?” “Did you buy it yet?” hahaha it helps a lot to frame up my answer.


I say the exact same thing all the time, stuff pretending to be something it isn’t is the worst! It’s just cheesy. And it’s all you see on HGTV now (when are you coming back!?). I love a farmhouse look, but I like it done in an authentic way, blending in antiques, but mostly being built from pieces that reference the style like the ones you posted above because that’s what I can afford right now. The faux stuff has to be done VERY WELL and that’s rare. Although like you I have been known to change my opinion! I… Read more »

I agree with the quartz/marble thing, which is why the whole post wasn’t ‘i hate faux’ because faux can be soooo practical. Just faux old is not (in my maybe-not-so-humble-opinion-anymore),


Love this post, thank you Emily. Very helpful as always 🙂
I have never liked shabby chic etc and now I think I understand why!
To those who don’t agree with this post… you can always go and read another blog which you do agree with 🙂 Keep up the great content Emily!


You have to be careful about buying the truly old painted chipped stuff if you have young kids around… a lot of it has lead paint. At the very least, it you’re going to buy old vs. creating or buying repros (when it comes to the painted and chipped/distressed look), get a lead paint test kit and then figure out what to do if it comes out positive.


I think the theme of this post is: Too Much Fake looks Fake. If you like the idea of something looking fake, then go for it. Lots of people like faux-finish. I don’t care for them, but that personal taste. The criticism with faux-old (shabby chic paint, painted rust, fake marble, manufactured “hand-scraped” look) is really that there is way to much going on. There is too much contrast, too little subtly, and that makes the fake-ness show. All these people bent out of shape need to understand that the difference in how fake something looks depends on how much… Read more »


I have really loved your design mistakes series so far. I feel these posts generally address timeless and universal principles of designing a good space. This post feels different to me (maybe more like the one about types of wood?). This reads more “trends that are no longer current” versus “design mistakes”, does that make sense? Not that I don’t think educating about trends is not useful. It totally is. But I think that is definitely more subjective and more likely to be dated. I just doesn’t seem to be quite the same category as hanging rods at useful heights… Read more »


well said, and i totally agree. i think that’s why a lot of commenter’s feathers are ruffled; it feels more judgmental of style, instead of offering useful guidelines.

ok, that’s interesting. good note. I think that I really just don’t (and have never) liked faux old things. But maybe its a tone thing?


For some reason I think that the first picture of the hardwood flooring mistakes is actually a ceramic tile? I work in sales in a tile/hardwood flooring/laminate store and to me it looks as if these “boards” have dark grout between it? It looks WAY too manufactured to be wood and the boards are too far apart, the other pictures are clearly wood to me but the first one just screams (ugly) tile. Now I hate this “trend” so I absolutely applaud you for this and at least where I live in Europe the hand scraped thing in wood is… Read more »


What about fake mason jars? I love the grit of the real thing. The elbow grease, the purposeful life they have lived. If someone (me) wants to use a 100 year old Ball jar in their decor somewhere, it’s GREAT (though i often wonder if old people ever wonder why so many folks have spaghetti and applesauce jars sitting around their home.).

But, when I saw FAKE mason jars–as in, they couldn’t even be put into boiling water, at the craft store, I just couldn’t take it anymore.


i just reread the comment above and it doesn’t really relate to the post exactly, but i got stuck on shabby chic and farmhouse, and the things people are doing to achieve the look, which took me directly to mason jars.

I’ll stop before I get going on pallets….

ha ha ha 🙂


I just bought the ram bookends this weekend! So cute for my new home office.


Thank you Emily!

You rounded up several of my “design” mistakes in one place and looking at them just drove home the point: No, no, no!

Please keep writing these posts. Although some seemingly grown adults seem to be Stunned/offended at reading another person’s opinion, I really love reading what you have to say and am pretty confident that I’ll live even if I don’t agree with you 100 percent of the time.

Now I’m definitely tackling that “distressed” table.


Thank you! I think you’re dead-on with these suggestions – thank you for providing alternatives.


I think the tone of this post was just off – you usually come across as helpful and upbeat, and this reads as kind of negative and judgy. I suspect that many of your readers (like myself) are not professional decorators or stylists; we come to you for advice and your expertise, with the understanding that we’ll choose to incorporate what ‘sparks joy’ (to borrow from Marie Kondo) in our own homes. Clearly, everyone has their own style and to simply emulate yours would likely leave it devoid of character. While I won’t argue that some of your points are… Read more »


Woah! These comments made me laugh. Simmer down everyone! No need to get our grundies in a bundle over the pros and cons of faux finishes!


I was SO not offended by your post..even though I do like shabby and industrial, I see and agree with your points. And I 100% agree on the hand carved floor. It looks so fake, it’s not pretty and it makes me upset to see it used time and again on HGTV. Would LOVE to see more posts on the lime paint – seems dreamy!


I totally oppose you using small-time bloggers’ photos as examples of a “mistake” in decorating. Are you really that insensitive? To faux or not to faux is not the issue here…if you’re going to hold up people who are doing it “wrong” then you need to pick on people your own size.

Yes, Emily. Just. Yes. Especially #1. There is an entire shopping district in my city devoted to all things faux shabby. It kills me.

FINALLY! Aging painted furniture is still really big in the home and garden blog world where I blog, and I just hate that shabby chippy distressed look. To me it doesn’t look distressed, it looks destroyed. Thank you so much for writing this. Maybe there will be a turn in the other direction soon!


Can’t be any worse than tons of crap everywhere and changed up daily to keep blog readers interested….

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