They say ‘different strokes for different folks’ when it comes to almost anything. So, what about interior design? Are there rules to follow to keep from crossing the line from whimsy to tasteless, from expressing one’s personal home decor vision to stylistic oppression?
To examine some interior design faux pas as she reckons them, UK interior designer and writer Estelle Page is here to talk about her favorites. Or is that least favorites?
Interior design is more difficult than it looks, if I may say so myself as an interior designer! It’s easy enough to flick through the latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens and pick out the looks that you like, but it’s far from simple to recreate them in your own home unless you really know what you’re doing.
Although I’ve made over tons of homes now, I’m still learning things every day and improving the way I work – and there was a time when I was brand new to the world of interior design too, and didn’t really have a clue what I was doing!
So here is a list that I’ve compiled from experience and from a little digging around on the Internet, of the top 7 interior faux pas you really want to avoid when it comes to redecorating your home.
1. Overdoing a theme
Okay, so you love the kitsch British look (or your client’s asked you for it), but that doesn’t mean every piece in the room needs to have a Union Jack or the Queen’s head on it! Avoid overkill by picking out two or three key pieces, and then bring the rest of the decor in line with your theme through a subtle use of color.
2. Fake flowers
Fake flowers are never a good look – they’ll just gather dust and eventually fade to look even worse than when they were new. Fresh blooms are so much more appealing, and if you don’t want the effort or expense that comes with replacing them regularly then invest in some low-maintenance plants such as bamboo or cacti.
3. Excessive “matching”
A well designed room is not a random mish-mash of colours, prints and styles, but neither is it a perfectly matching room that looks like it came straight out of a shopping commercial. Keep a general theme in mind, but don’t worry if your table is a different shade of brown to your footstools or your shelving.
4. White ceilings
Let’s face it, how many of us have white ceilings? You might argue that no one looks up there (unless you have some show-stopping ceiling fans or a chandelier that is) but the truth is that this is one of the widest expanses of un-cluttered space in the room so a subtle hint of ecru or beige can warm a room up no end, without looking overpowering.
5. Too close to the wall
When it comes to planning a layout, who says you can only line furniture up around the four walls of the room? Create a more contemporary and unique setting by putting sofas, tables and chairs more towards the centre of the room and have some fun playing around with different layout options.
6. Avoiding color
Interior design magazines are brimming with colorful designs, but I always find it refreshing to see this look in a friend’s house because so many people stick to white, cream and beige – yes, I’m talking about walls. Think about it – how many colored walls do you have in your home? If the answer is none it’s time to get painting! Stick to a single feature wall in a vivid hue if you’re still unsure about using too much color.
There’s a difference between having a great selection of hand-picked pieces, and looking like you live in a home furnishings store. As a rule, once you’ve chosen the large items in a room (furniture and the like) I try to choose just 5-6 additional items, such as rugs, lamps, vases and paintings to complete the look without filling the room too much.
I even count designer radiators and curtains in this, as they can make such a difference to the decor on their own!
Are there other common interior design mistakes you loathe? Tell me about them below!
Estelle Page is an interior designer in the UK, currently making over her old Victorian home to give it a chic-yet-traditional update.