Decorating your home can be an exciting but challenging endeavour. From complex hurdles that may require professional assistance to simple design tricks you can tackle yourself, navigating these obstacles is key to creating stunning living spaces. In this article, we present the top 8 common challenges in interior decorating and offer practical solutions to help you achieve breathtaking interiors.
1: KEEPING ITEMS FOR SENTIMENTAL REASONS
Sentimentality is one of the most difficult hurdles to overcome on this list. Often we encounter homeowners who want to keep a specific piece, or perhaps many pieces because of the emotional connection. Whether it was a set of furniture left to you by your grandmother, or something as simple as a collection that reminds you of an important time in your life, it’s certainly difficult to say goodbye to sentimental ideas.
The Solution: The key to overcoming this decorating challenge isn’t to just clear your house of anything that’s sentimental in the name of style. Instead, we work with you to integrate loved items into a cohesive design. We may suggest incorporating a few of your favourite items, rather than having a room that’s entirely made up of them. Smaller pieces with sentimental value may be worked in as accessories grouped together on a shelf or fireplace mantle. Often these items can become conversation pieces that add a unique and authentic vibe to a space.
In our warehouse living decorating, the dining table was fabricated out of the old saddlery machines, which we retained in the project. We complemented the saddlery design with new dining chairs and lighting.
2: BUDGET CONSTRAINTS
Budget constraints come in many forms, but for this challenge we are primarily referring to clients who are reluctant to change items that were expensive when initially purchased.
It is common for individuals to be attached to pieces if they had made a significant invested in the homes furniture or design, even if it was many years ago. Understandably, they do not want to throw significant sums into a grand overhaul, regardless of whether or not the design is now outdated.
The Solution: Make small changes that will breathe new life into a space. We recommend recovering old or outdated furniture and cushions. You can still enjoy the style and construction of pieces that were expensive, but they get a whole new budget-friendly look. Simply adding modern and plush pillows can change the look of a dated sofa.
Other simple, budget-friendly remedies that work well at refreshing the décor include updating lights and fixtures. A rug revamp or a fresh coat of paint to add fresh colour can also have a tremendous impact in modernising a room.
3: THE BATTLE BETWEEN COMFORT AND STYLE
We tell clients that your number one goal when creating a home should be one that suits your lifestyle. Unfortunately, the battle between comfort and style is one that causes frustration for homeowners when designing a space.
Homeowners often hold the misconception that comfort and style are mutually exclusive. In truth they are made better together.
The Solution: Find a balance. Choose comfort for functional items and spaces and go for style in places where comfort isn’t an issue. For example, when shopping for major items such as sofas and chairs, comfort should be a priority. You can go for high-style additions in areas where comfort is not essential, such as lamps, wall art and accessories.
In our outdoor project, pictured to the left, there’s a sense of comfort in the plush furnishings. This plushness and usable comfort is paired with sleek, modern elements and lines for both form and function. Modern style tends to be less about comfort and more about style. By fusing modern with traditional, you get warmth and comfort, for a space that will look beautiful and welcoming.
4: EXISTING FEATURES
There are some features found in homes that are nearly impossible to replace, or the change is cost prohibitive. This includes architectural features, such as a ceiling style or room layout. It can also be exterior features, such as guttering and awnings.
The Solution: When we encounter homes or buildings with features that would be difficult to change, we recommend attempting to incorporate them. The goal is usually to make them less noticeable or to integrate them into a the design.
Hiding certain structural features of a home involves being creative with paint and colour schemes, or using design elements to camouflage existing elements. In the room below, the wall panelling was an existing feature that would have been difficult to replace. We made it a highlight of the room by painting it a warm, creamy neutral. Changes in lighting, artworks and mirrors completely changed the look and feel of the space.
The home also featured decorative fretwork and skirting boards. To highlight these features, we utilised colour trim in Vivid White. This allowed for the decorative woodwork to be gracefully highlighted and it became an essential element of the exterior design.
5: OUTDATED OR UNAPPEALING BENCHTOPS & CABINETS
Benchtops are expensive and difficult to change. It can be one of the biggest challenges of a kitchen or bathroom project to select benchtops that are within budget. Replacing benchtops is also inconvenient, because kitchen is out of commission during installation. Regardless of how outdated, worn out or unappealing benchtops may be, many are reluctant to change them.
The Solution: There are a few different ways you can approach this decorating hurdle. One way is to work around your existing benchtops and add less expensive stylish updates, but that can go a long way in changing the look of your kitchen or bathroom. For example, adding a backsplash can refresh older benchtops.
Another option is resurfacing existing benchtops to change the colour or to appear as stone. Something as simple as a benchtop colour change can make a significant difference in the appearance of a kitchen or bathroom. Caesarstone, laminate concrete and even butcher block-style tops are cost effective solutions if you want new benchtops that look like natural stone.
In terms of cabinetry, if you’re searching for the modern look of a 2-Pac finish but don’t have the budget, there are two ideal options. The first is the use of Laminex cabinetry, while the second is the use of high-gloss paint finish instead of matte. Both can be created to replicate the look and style of 2-Pac cabinets, without the price tag.
6: FURNISHINGS, COLOURS AND PATTERNS THAT DON’T COMPLEMENT THE SIZE OF A ROOM
It is not uncommon to have furnishings that do not fit the size of room. This occurs when people move from one home to another or miscalculated scale when purchasing. They may have items that feel too large and burdensome in a smaller room. Also, on the opposite end of the spectrum are items that are too small, making a room feel cavernous and unfinished.
The Solution: Evaluate your space and determine what’s going to work in terms of proportion and scale. If you have a vast space that’s open-concept, you can go bold and dramatic with colours, prints and patterns, even if you’re not replacing all of your furnishings. If you have smaller furniture and a large space, consider grouping items to delineate areas and add a great sense of functionality. In smaller rooms, the obvious answer is to choose smaller furnishings, but you can also opt for neutral colour palettes. This will make a little room feel more open and airy.
Floating furniture arrangements can make small rooms feel larger and create a better sense of scale. In some cases, simply rearranging furniture can can achieve visual coherence in a room. We suggest experimenting by moving a couch or table away from wall. If you want to see more details and information on floating furniture and the ideal placement of individual pieces, our article on the Top 10 Decorating Fails can provide guidance.
In Hawthorne decorating project, the media room was a long, narrow room, so we used a dark charcoal feature wall to “shorten” the length of the room. Sofa was custom fabricated with a reduced width to increase the floor space. A narrow width coffee table and entertainment unit were selected to fit in the space.
Ideally, to maximise floor space it is good to wall mount televisions. However, in this particular home this was going to be a costly exercise due to what was going to be involved for moving the antenna, power points and given that the owners were selling it was decided that budget wise this was not worth it.
7: POORLY SELECTED ACCESSORIES
Time and time again we encounter homes and spaces where the accessories are wrong. It could mean heavy curtains that block out valuable natural light, cluttered bookshelves or tired and bulky lamps shades. It can also mean stained or outdated rugs and even unattractive pieces of art that are misplaced or out of proportion.
The Solution: This is certainly one of the easiest interior decorating challenges to tackle, and homeowners are often amazed at the difference changing accessories can have.
We suggest selecting curtains to make your ceiling appear higher and let natural light in, or purchasing a modernised rug. Simple solutions such as changing cushions or replacing a lamp shade can also revamp and streamline the design. In our Nundah decorating project, we selected a custom rug and accessories which enhanced the beauty of the space.
If your artwork is a significant obstacle, you can tailor it to your style by commissioning a custom piece artwork. It’s a great way to get the perfect art that feels just right in your home. For a less expensive but still custom look, consider wall printing.
8: OVERLY NARROW STYLE, CONCEPT OR IDEA
Our final challenge is a big one. If you’re a homeowner or client who is committed to a particular style, concept or idea, you’re doing your design a disservice. You do not want your home to look like it came out of a catalogue; you want our home to be a reflection your personal vibe and style. To achieve this, it needs elements that are authentic and unique.
At Rochele Interiors, we’re professionals with extensive experience. We can provide creative ideas and resources you may not have previously considered.
The Solution: Enter into the process of decorating your home with an open mind.
We can provide several different concepts and let you select the one you enjoy most. This is an excellent way to put your own style and stamp on a project and enjoy the benefits of a professionally designed home.
Being open-minded and flexible will lead to a home that is distinguished for its beautiful design. In our open-plan bedroom decorating project, we found an unusual and beautiful trellis pattern foot stool that became the inspiration for much of the design. The rugs, mirrors, cushions and the colours came from the pattern and the style of the bed stool.
If you’re worried that being too plan-obsessed is ruining your interior décor, check out our post on how to be flexible with your design ideas, open your mind and get the best home design as a result.
About The Author:
Kate Festa, the founder, lead interior designer, and colour consultant of Rochele Interiors, launched the company ten years ago. Over the past decade, she has transformed Rochele from a small home office into a thriving studio renowned for its award-winning projects and honourable mentions in various publications (Australia House & Garden, Queensland Home Magazine and Country Living Magazine).