5 Common Interior Design Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Yves Saint Laurent said "Fashions fade, style is eternal" and this is absolutely true. However, regardless of how your home is decorated there are a few common mistakes you might be making that is stopping your home from being stylish. Here I look at 5 mistakes that if rectified will boost your home into the high style stakes.

1. Badly hung pictures and artwork

I hate artwork, pictures and mirrors hung too high. Not only does it cause neck ache or a need to stand on tip toes, it also destroys the proportions of a room, bringing the ceilings visually lower and making a room feel oppressed. For artwork and pictures to be enjoyed they should be hung with the center at eye level i.e. 1500mm from floor level.

Pictures hung too high- you'd strain your neck in order to look at them.

2. Island rugs

Rugs that are too small. I see so many guilty of this- a small island rug in the middle of the sitting room with all the furniture neatly arranged around the sides and perhaps a coffee table on top. Rugs are a great way to add texture and colour but they must, in my opinion, fill a space, anchoring furniture and creating a zone. In the sitting room, a rug should as a minimum, sit under the front of sofas and other seating, creating a conversation zone and anchoring the seating. In a bedroom the rug should sit under the majority/whole of the bed and not float at the foot. And in a dining room, the rug should be large enough to sit under the table and chairs so that when chairs are pulled out the rear legs do not catch on the edge of the rug. Anything less than this looks stingy.

A guide to how and how not to place rugs.

A rug should be big enough to fit, as a minimum, under the front of each of the pieces of furniture.

A large rug in this sitting room anchors the furniture creating a conversation zone as well as adding colour and texture.

3. Furniture bought from a single range.

Avoid a contrived look by not matching furniture- particularly dining and bedroom suits. When I see a room that is furnished with matching pieces I miss the personality of the occupier. Who lives here? What do they like? What do they do? I love a home that expresses the personality of the occupier and gives me an insight into their lives. A home that has been gathered and created with love. Take your time to find pieces of furniture that complement and coordinate with each other rather than match- just like you would your wardrobe.

Matching furniture all from the same range is almost always soulless and contrived.

Chose complementary furniture to give your home a look as unique as your family.

4. Poorly hung curtains

Curtains and window dressings are really important. They can also be really expensive. However even the most expensive curtains can be made to look awful if hung badly and equally the most affordable can be made to look anything but if hung correctly. My pet hates are curtains that are too short, too stingy, hung too low or hung on a pole too narrow.

In general, floor length curtains should be the first choice although there are some situations where you may need sill length, such as in a half bay window. Floor length look more elegant when both open or closed. Hang your pole as high as possible, just below the coving to give the illusion of higher ceilings. The more fabric you have the better the curtains will look so try to allow at least 1.5 times the width of curtain fabric to the width of the window. Lastly make sure your curtain pole is wide enough so that when curtains are pulled back the bulk of the fabric doesn't block any of the window. This will allow maximum light in and make your window look bigger.

A window can be made to look much bigger, brighter and elegant when the curtains are hung correctly.

Curtains hung close to the ceiling gives the impression of height and when opened fully allows in the maximum light, making the window look bigger and more elegant.

5. Grid lighting

Practically every blog I do I drop in a bit about the importance of lighting. I don't want to disappoint so here it is. Ceiling lighting on a grid or a room lit by a single central pendent light fitting falls short.

Most houses you walk into, built in the last 15 years or so will have a ceiling littered with a grid of spot lights all in neat little rows. Sounds great but really it isn't. This light source gives you a really even level of lighting, beating directly down onto the floor. The only benefit of this is for cleaning. This lighting design is void of any depth and ambiance. Generally modern homes are fitted with too many ceiling fittings. Instead use less but more wisely, to create cosy relaxed areas, to highlight architectural features and create zones such as a dining table, kitchen island or a welcoming reading corner.

Houses older than about 15 years will rely more on a single pendent fitting. Pendent fittings are great, way to add a personal touch and express your own taste but the light source they give isn't great when relied upon alone. Whether your house is old or new your lighting design shouldn't be reliant on any single source. Instead layer lighting with ceiling, pendent, floor and table lamps and have each circuit fitted with a dimmer to give you the best flexibility to create different moods.

Neat little rows of ceiling lights add no interest to a space.

Beautiful interior enhanced by well considered, layered lighting using directional ceiling spots, a striking pendent fitting and under shelf lighting to highlight artwork, architectural features and create a luxurious ambiance. Lighting design by Jenny Smart Lighting

So there you have it. A designer will rarely question your taste as we love to see individual personalities communicated in your homes. In fact we want to see your personality. But if you want to take your home to another level of loveliness this simple pointers might help.

1. Hang pictures at eye level

2. Big rugs

3. Complementary not matching furniture

4. Hang curtains well.

5. Avoid flat, lifeless lighting

Please see my Pinterest page 5 Common Interior Design Mistakes for links to original source and information

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