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What are the most common interior design mistakes?

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
Modern houses by (주)걸리버하우스 Modern
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It’s happened to all of us – you’re peacefully minding your own business in a shopping centre somewhere when all of a sudden you spot it: the perfect décor piece for your house! Of course you know it will look just perfect in your interiors, so you immediately buy it and set off home – only to discover that what looked fabulous in the shop looks out of place in your home. What were you thinking?

What most of us don’t understand is that interior design takes a very keen and knowledgeable eye. Just because you love something in a shop doesn’t mean you will love it in your home. Interior designers, being the experts that they are, understand how colour, lighting, room size, scale, and placement all affect how items look in a room.

Of course we can’t award you with a degree in interior design, but we can provide you with a list of common design errors, and tell you how to avoid them from now on…

1. Not taking scale into consideration

Living Room Modern living room by Clean Design Modern

Whether it’s the living room or the bedroom, you want that space to seem like a cityscape – a combination of different heights. Never settle on letting all furniture and décor pieces be at the same level or of the same size. 

Some people put too many small things in a room, thereby cluttering the room and not giving the eye a place to land. And then others tend to opt for too many large, bulky items, making the space look stuffed and small. 

The secret to proper scale is a mixture of different shapes, heights and sizes. With the right scale, your room is well on its way towards a successful design.

2. Not shopping (and checking) around

The Big Blue Modern dining room by Pixers Modern

Impulse purchasing happens to most of us. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t buy something that you fall immediately in love with, but maybe just hold on to that receipt…  

Craft a plan and budget before you head off to the store / furniture showroom. Measure your rooms and plan the placement of the furniture (and their sizes). Various online room arrangement tools can help with this. 

Only then may you enter that showroom with your plan in place, which will help you know what you want and make sure you stick within your budget.

3. Never asking for advice

Modern style bedroom by homify Modern

Even the most skilled designers are prone to the occasional mistake. And even the most in-your-face mistake can hide if you spend too much time on the same room – sometimes it takes a fresh eye to immediately realise what’s wrong.

Ask a friend for an honest opinion regarding colour, fabrics or room arrangement. If feasible, you can also opt to hire a professional interior designer, not necessarily for the entire project, but only to give advice on those colours, fabrics and room arrangements (plenty of designers charge by the hour). 

If you disagree with the second opinion, then get a third. Listening to advice doesn’t mean you have to take it—your home design is uniquely yours and if you love it, then that’s all that really matters.

4. Scattering collections all over the place

Sometimes it starts with one little ceramic dove, and before you know it your entire house has been taken over by a collection of birds in various shapes, sizes and colours. 

Don’t scatter your collection of décor pieces throughout your home – rather let one little bird tweet from the fireplace mantel, while another takes up nest on the coffee table. 

Regardless of your accessories, it is best to display them in arrangements and groupings. There are some steadfast rules to arranging items into groups, called the rule of three. So, gather what you love into groupings and display them proudly and properly.

5. Not hanging art correctly

Power of Nature Eclectic style living room by Pixers Eclectic

We advise all, in a friendly manner, to do a personal art gallery in their homes, whether it’s rare oil paintings or framed photos of beloved pets and friends. The real issue, however, is how to properly hang those pieces. 

The best way to ensure there are no mistakes (and nasty nail holes to fill) is to trace and cut out the frames’ outlines on paper. Simply tape the paper cut-outs onto your wall, trying numerous placement options until you have the desired outcome.

Play with size, colour and texture for some visual detail. And remember to take scale into consideration (see mistake number 1).

6. Buying fabrics and textiles last

Beach Living Room Modern living room by Collage Designs Modern Tiles

A common mistake that most of us make is painting a room first. First, you need to pick out the rooms fabrics and main textiles, such as rugs and curtains.

Why? Because it is simply much easier to find fabrics that we love and then pick out paint to match. 

Thus, with your plans and your budget firmly by your side, go on a shopping excursion and look through samples of fabrics. Find what you love and then once you are happy with your design choices, pick out a paint shade for the chosen textiles.

7. Forgetting all about character

Sala Modern living room by homify Modern

Don’t be dazzled by all those modern furnishings and buy everything at once. Doing this results in a common interior design mistake: buying everything matchy-matchy, ending up in a home that lacks character. And there is only one way to add character to a room: slowly over time. 

Character is built into your interior design by adding that odd rocking chair you found at the flea market or the amazing painting that a street vendor was selling. 

Try a small shopping excursion on the weekend; slowly over time you will find things you love and build your home’s character.

8. Not adding a focal point

Modern living room by Rubleva Design Modern

Every room needs a focal point, for it offers the eye a place to rest and assigns a function to the space (note that larger rooms are allowed to have more than one focal point). 

Some rooms are simple – obviously a TV will be the focal point in the TV room, with all the main objects (sofas, tables, etc.) focused and pointed towards the television

Other rooms are a bit more difficult, such as living rooms or dens. Don’t just scatter furnishings about the room. First, find a focus or purpose for the room, and then place the furnishings around that focal point (which can be a fireplace, a gaming table, a large painting, or even a coffee table that encourages conversation).

9. Clinging on to sentimental pieces

Modern dining room by homify Modern

Most of us have a “guilty” object in our homes – that piece that was handed down to us by a loved relative which doesn’t really fit, but which can’t be tossed out due to respect and love. 

But why would you have something in your home that doesn’t bring you joy and happiness?

Our suggestion? Find a new purpose for all those hand-me-downs that you hate, whether you paint it, hand it off to another relative or give yourself permission to sell it and buy something you love in its place. 

Set yourself free and make your home full of things that make you happy.

10. Hiding your personality

Modern style bedroom by Rubleva Design Modern

Nobody wants to walk into a friend’s (or even a stranger’s) house and see an exact replica of a furniture showroom. Each person’s home should be a reflection of their personality and style, memoirs of their trips, their loves and their life. 

So, bring in all the things you love (while still sidestepping the aforementioned mistakes, of course), turning your home into a unique oasis that makes you feel welcome and wanted, and also tells your guests an intriguing story about yourself.  

In continuing with interior beauty, see these 22 tricks to make people think you hired an interior decorator.

What other design hints can you add to our list?
Whitton Drive by GK Architects Ltd Modern

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