Interior design is not an exact science. There are a dozen solutions to every design dilemma, and for every rule there are plenty of examples of fabulous homes that break them all. There are however, a few common interior design mistakes that can make or break a scheme. I’ve probably made quite a few of these mistakes myself over the years, but no, I’m not going to tell you which ones. As in most things, once you’ve learnt the rules it’s up to you whether you break them or not. It’s your home after all. But these are the ones that set my teeth on edge the most.
(I have to admit at this point, that these are usually only things I see when I’m indulging in my guilty pleasure of scouring estate agent sites. I veer from house envy to house horror in equal measure, and I just wish the UK would adopt the habit of home staging before taking photographs.)
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Image Credit: Sainsburys Home
Furniture that has been lined up round the walls
I do appreciate that we don’t all have the space we would ideally like. And sometimes that the only place for that sofa is along the one wall that isn’t broken up by doors and radiators. But I quite often see dining tables that have been pushed up against walls so that you can only sit around three sides without actually moving everything. Even when there is room to move it to the centre of the room! Or rooms that have more than one sofa, but they are so far apart that conversion between the two must be impossible. Move them closer together people. Quite often moving the furniture away from the wall can improve traffic flow around a room too. Instead of walking down the centre of the room (narrowly avoiding the coffee table usually) why not move the sofa forward and walk behind it instead? Just an example.
Image Credit: George Home
DIY store feature wallpaper
Don’t get me wrong. I love wallpaper. And I don’t have anything against the wallpaper in DIY stores either. It’s just there is a common mistake of hanging bold wallpaper on one wall only, and ignoring pattern and colour completely in the rest of the room. In fact it’s often the show house on new-build sites that are most guilty of this. There should be a balance. If one wall is featuring a loud colour and pattern, at least avoid the ‘magnolia look’ everywhere else. Paint the remaining walls in a complementary shade, or add a rug that picks out one of the accent colours. But please don’t make it red.
Image Credit: Next Home
Rugs that float in the middle of the room
I know rugs are expensive, but I’d rather choose a cheaper rug in the correct size than an expensive rug that is too small. Rugs aren’t meant to float. Rugs should be large enough to go under the furniture, or at least under the front legs of the furniture. If you can’t find a rug big enough, use two.
Image Credit: Dunelm
Curtains that stop at windowsill level
Okay, I’ll admit it. I’ve been guilty of this one, but I now know better. Curtains should always hang to the floor. If you have a radiator under the window that prevents you from drawing floor length curtains, layer them with a blind too. That way you can pull the blind down for privacy and leave the curtains alone. It can be a roller blind, roman blind or shutters. Whatever suits the room and your decorating scheme.
Single central pendant lights
This is a common problem in most homes. The one light source in a room is a single light bulb hanging in the middle of the space, which is unflattering and less than cosy. Designers will advise you to change the switch to a dimmer so that you can at least control the brightness level, but in my experience this doesn’t really help much. If you can’t change the wiring, hang the biggest light fitting you can find there and make a real statement. And then never turn it on. That’s what I do. Instead I light the room with lamps. Much more welcoming.
Image Credit: Furniture Village
Artwork that is hung too high
This is so easily avoided. Artwork should ideally be hung at eye level. That means your eye should roughly be about two thirds up from the bottom of the frame. There are exceptions. Artwork over a sofa should be a bit lower so that it doesn’t ‘float’ a bit like the rug. And while we’re at it, artwork should be in proportion to whatever furniture is underneath it.
Image Credit: Amara
Lack of proper storage solutions
Without adequate storage most rooms soon become cluttered. Adding storage at a later stage rarely works so it’s best to factor in your needs before deciding on other furniture and accessories. Use the rooms proportions to determine the best place for bookshelves and cupboards. Alcoves are great for this. Anticipate at an early stage where you are going to put coats in a hallway, toiletries in the bathroom, and even things like the vacuum cleaner and the ironing board and clutter will never be a problem.