Common Interior Design Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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.)

This post does contain affiliate links. If you decide to buy anything featured you won’t pay any more, but Dear Designer’s will receive a small commission to help keep this blog up and running.

Common Interior Design Mistakes and How to Avoid Them - Move Furniture away from the walls

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.

Common Interior Design Mistakes and How to Avoid Them - balance feature wallpaper with colour and pattern in the rest of the room

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.

Common Interior Design Mistakes and How to Avoid Them - make sure rugs are anchored down by the furniture

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.

Common Interior Design Mistakes and How to Avoid Them - curtains should always hang to the floor

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.

Common Interior Design Mistakes and How to Avoid Them - balance artwork with other elements in the room

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.

Common Interior Design Mistakes and How to Avoid Them - plan for adequate storage

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.


You Might Also Like






  1. Reply

    Maxine Brady

    March 16, 2018

    I saw this post on your fb page and had to have a read. So many good tips in here. I love the one about furniture not pushed up against walls.

    • Reply


      March 16, 2018

      Glad you liked it Maxine 🙂

  2. Reply


    March 8, 2018

    Oh gosh, so true! I like your description of ‘floating rugs’ – will be calling them this from now on.

    • Reply


      March 8, 2018

      Haha, glad you agree Rachel 🙂

  3. Reply

    karen jones

    March 7, 2018

    Short curtains !! Literally make me scream.
    As for furniture round the side of the room. What is the matter with people, its not a waiting room.
    Great tips, you are a girl after my own heart. xx

    • Reply


      March 8, 2018

      Thanks Karen. Sometimes it has to be said 🙂

  4. Reply

    Kimberly Duran

    March 7, 2018

    OMG, YES TO ALL OF THIS. I did a post last year I think on a similar topic and I think we’ve ticked off so many similar pet peeves! The short curtains are one I particularly can’t bear – it’s a scourge on this country! LOL! Oh and the tiny rugs – just no, people, NO. Love it! xxx

    • Reply


      March 8, 2018

      Haha, thanks Kimberly. Glad we agree on so many of them. 🙂

  5. Reply

    Susan Earlam

    March 7, 2018

    Love this as a general guide but I’m all for breaking the rules! Beautiful images here too x

    • Reply


      March 7, 2018

      I break them too Susie. Just not all of them at the same time. 🙂

  6. Reply

    Juan Sandiego

    March 7, 2018

    The short curtains sin is driving me crazy, but the solution you propose is brilliant! You’re right, home staging should be the norm to create a good impression.

    • Reply


      March 7, 2018

      It’s the tiny rugs that drive me most crazy I have to say. Short curtains second lol 🙂


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.