Have you ever entered a room and felt like something was off? Even if the furniture is beautiful or the art is just right, if it’s not pulled together and styled correctly, it won’t evoke a “wow-factor.”
So what’s the reason? It’s often because of the presence of a small, but powerful design missteps. If you’re concerned you may be guilty of a design faux pas in your home, you’re certainly not alone. Our top ten design fails are common. Luckily the mistakes making our list are also simple to remedy, with a little professional guidance.
1: NO ATTENTION TO FUNCTIONALITY
Even when a room is beautiful and the furnishings look as if they’re right from a magazine, if it isn’t functional it’s problematic.
We’ve seen so many rooms that look great but not suited to the needs of the homeowner. They serve no clear purpose, or the furnishings and décor are so uncomfortable the room is unusable.
The room below is an extreme example of what not to do. This room has everything from furniture, electronic appliances to clothes and does not have a clear functionality.
The Fix: A good interior decorator is someone who’s not only going to consider aesthetics but how the room is used. Also to be considered is the general lifestyle of the people who live there. Your design concept should strike a balance between form and function. In the room below, we’ve created a space that’s streamlined, elegant and modern. Thanks to the plush sectional sofa and the warm, neutral colour palette of the furnishings, it’s chic but still feels like a comfortable gathering place.
In addition the torte coloured walls add a softness to the scheme and provide a platform to create highlights and contrast with the natural white windows, posts and balustrade.
2: POOR LIGHTING
The ambience of a room is significantly based on the lighting. When a room is too dim, too bright or features something like fluorescent bulbs, it’s never going to feel entirely comfortable.
Perhaps your only source of light are a couple of lamps placed at the same height in a room, or the lighting all comes from a single, harsh overhead fixtures.
The room below is classic example of single light source.
The Fix: Work with an interior decorator to design a layered lighting concept. With layered lighting, you have multiple fixtures and lamps working in conjunction with one another.
3: MISPLACED ART
Art is meant to be admired and enjoyed, but that’s difficult to do if it’s hanging at an odd level.
Many homeowners make the mistake of hanging artwork either too high, too low, or too many. When art’s hanging at the wrong place on the wall, visitors feel like they’re either straining to look up or down, or it misplaces the focal point of the room.
You can easily adjust the brightness levels, change your lighting depending on your needs at any given moment, and add depth and usability to the entire room. The room we designed on the below was small and required custom made small size bedside tables. These tables were too small for lamps to fit adequately. Therefore a layered lighting concept with both bedside pendants and downlights was used. Each gives off a relaxing, soft golden glow whilst still being functional.
The Fix: An interior decorator can help you find the layouts and placement that are going to best to highlight your favourite pieces of art. A good rule of thumb is to aim for having the centre point of a piece of art at eye level when standing.
In the living room below, we centred artwork in relation to the furniture and not the wall. This helps to centre attention to the artwork and create more balance in the room.
4: BECOMING PLAN-OBSESSED
The process of interior decorating is one that should be fluid and flexible. Often our clients will come to us with a fixed idea of what a room should look like even before they’ve gone shopping or been presented with our concept ideas. This approach leaves homeowners unwilling to explore their options.
The Fix: Our approach is like a puzzle. We focus on sourcing unique pieces that are going to work well together, but we don’t limit ourselves to a strictly defined plan. We may find an unusual piece in an unexpected place and then centre our design on that piece. It may be that we undertake an extensive search for that ideal finishing touch to bring it all together, and we don’t know it until we see it.When you’re willing to approach the process of decorating your home with an open mind, you’re more likely to end up with a beautiful finished product.
In the room below is located in an open-concept warehouse-style home, the design revolved around the bone stools at the foot of the bed. They were an unexpected find and by creating the design concept around these pieces we came up with something that felt customised and exciting.
5: THE CATALOGUE ROOM
Have you ever walked into a room where everything matched a little too perfectly? If so, you know exactly what we’re referring to when we say “the catalogue room.” These are the rooms that look as if the homeowner walked into a store, simply bought the display and had it delivered to their home.
When a design concept feels like it matches too well the result is a lack of character, warmth and originality. Anyone can walk into a store and buy a set of furniture, but most people want a home that feels customised.
The Fix: Your decorator can help you avoid the catalogue room by bringing together unique and eclectic pieces, but tying them in with one another. With a great designer, your room won’t look hastily thrown together, but it also won’t look like a showroom display. In the Queensland cottage project we worked on (pictured below), there’s a sense of antique charm created by bringing together unique pieces, each with their own distinctive look and feel. Despite the one-of-a-kind pieces, this room still manages to evoke a sense of cohesiveness and unity.
6: TOO THEME-CENTRIC
Maybe you recently went on a safari and decided to redo your home with a similar theme. Perhaps you love the tropics and you opted for a rainforest theme. Regardless of what it is, focusing too heavily on a theme is a sure way to sabotage your interior décor. A general concept is helpful—a theme is amateurish.
Rooms that are too theme-centric tend to look overwhelming and even tacky.
The Fix: Instead of creating a room designed around a theme, think about adding small elements that show your character. You can incorporate a few pieces from your recent travels or your favourite collection, but keep it to a minimum.
The room below is a nursery project completed by Rochele Decorating. We added small whimsical touches that bring to mind a sense of child-like charm, but no single theme dominates so it still feels simple, refreshing and calming.
7: TOO MUCH CLUTTER
When you walk into a room and it feels as if the accessories are taking over it’s problematic. Clutter can range from children’s’ toys to a beloved collection of figurines or even family photos.
While accessories and personal elements aren’t a bad, they’re actually an important part of designing a home, they can become “too much” very quickly.
When there are no unifying features bringing together the various elements of the space, it will feel jumbled and chaotic.
The Fix: Our team of professional decorators can help you find the most visually appealing ways to display your favourite items and collections. We can also assist you in sourcing personalised accessories that will beautifully merge with the design of a room. In the River City apartment below, we guided the homeowner toward displaying their collection of books and mementos in a way that still felt contemporary and clean.
8: NO FOCAL POINT
If you enter a space and you feel as if you don’t know where to look first, the room is probably lacking a focal point.
This can occur because there are too many accessories and pieces that overwhelm the room, which we saw in the picture above, or because the focal point isn’t defined.
A focal point is where the lines of a room meet. It’s important because our eyes naturally follow these lines. Creating a focal point has a couple of benefits including the unification of a room. Focal points can also be used to draw the eye away from the negative aspects of a space and toward the positive.
The Fix: You can choose from a variety of focal points whether it’s a beautiful piece of furniture, a bold piece of art or an architectural feature like a fireplace. Often it is a fireplace, large windows, or as shown below, a mirror on the feature wall.
9: PLACING FURNITURE AGAINST THE WALLS
This is perhaps one of the most common decorating fails we run into, yet it’s also one of the easiest to remedy when recognised.
People often think pushing furnishings against the wall will create the illusion of more space. In reality, it generates a large and unused dead space in the centre of the room. When furniture is placed against the walls it also tends to feel less inviting and makes conversation difficult.
The Fix: Leave at least some space between furnishings and the wall. Focus on trying to create furniture groupings that invite conversation and make a room feel cosy and welcoming. In the room below, the furnishings are all floating and are grouped by function and rugs which ground the spaces. Although this space is open-concept, there’s clear delineation between the dining and living room. It also feels intimate despite the large and open loft design of the apartment.
10: IGNORING ARCHITECTURAL DETAILS
The design of a room should always focus on the interior details that make it unique. Often we experience places where the architectural details are either ignored or the colour palette and decor fails to highlight these features.
Choose furnishings, accessories and colours that are going to highlight the strong aspects of a room and diminish the less-than-desirable features.
In this design we did for Somerville House we selected colours with the ultimate goal of enhancing the architectural distinctiveness of the ceilings and the entire structure. We highlighted these features using contrasting colours that were neutral but also eye-catching.
Think you may have made some decorating mistakes? The good news is that it’s very simple to alleviate these mistakes.
When you work with our team at Rochele Decorating, we can help you make certain the design of your home is well put together, creatively inspired, one-of-kind and visually appealing. Our professional expertise will also help you guarantee your home is going to meet the needs of the people who live there for years to come.
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).