When it comes to interior design, being faced with a completely blank canvas can be more of a curse than a blessing. Aka – your brand spanking new home with its empty white walls, polished wood floors and towering but oh-so bare windows might just prove a teeny bit harder ‘get right’ than you first anticipated.
It’s not to say that designing your new home is going to be a complete nightmare. Just that, things might get a little, shall we say, turbulent if you don’t do your homework first. Trust us, from floundering between paint swatches to shedding tears over sofa choices, it pays to have done a bit of research before you get stuck in.
And one of the best ways to avoid interior design mistakes is to, well, read up on some common interior design mistakes (we know, genius). Think of it like taking a sneak peak at the answers before going into an exam. We’re not judging… we promise!
So, here goes – some top interior design mistakes that are easy as anything to avoid… so long as you know about them first!
1. People always seem to buy the wrong sized rugs
“What is it with that?!” Interior designers cry, as they see yet another teeny tiny rug lost in the middle of a living room, throwing the direction of the whole place askew.
Here’s how it works. Living room rugs should be big, and there’s really no room for manoeuvre on that. Aim for asymmetry, and make sure the rug is large enough to fit all front sofa feet on it. That’s right – rugs that swim painfully in the middle of the floor without making contact with surrounding furniture are a big interior design ‘NO’.
Smaller rugs do have a place in the home though. A narrower one looks great running perpendicular to the foot of your bed, for example, or in a hallway.
2. We hang artwork too high, or too obviously
New home, new art. There’s nothing better than seeing the ‘Big Move’ as an opportunity to enjoy a bit of retail therapy, browsing for some stunning new decorative pieces to really bring the space alive. But falling seriously in love with a piece of artwork leaves us at risk of making too big of a deal out of it – a big and very common mistake in the world of interior design. We have a tendency, for example, to hang paintings really high up to give them pride of place, but this can end up with a weird scenario where our eye is drawn where it shouldn’t be, or where there’s a lot of unappealing blank space between focal points (furniture and art). If you need tangible guidance, the centre of the painting should be at about eye height, around 57 or 58 inches — which is much lower than most people expect.
Sometimes it’s just generally better to think subtle (i.e. not slap-in-the-face). A fantastic piece of artwork placed above a console table in a hallway, where it can be swathed in dim lamplight and even semi-covered by stacks of books, will be much more impactful than you think.
3. We go overboard on accessories
For some reason a lot of us fall into the trap of thinking that, to fix a space that doesn’t feel quite right, we should add more too it. This is baffling because it’s usually the exact opposite that’s true. If your new bedroom isn’t harmonising, for example, there’s a good chance it’s because it’s got too many textures, colours or accessories going on. So, don’t be tempted to go overboard with throw cushions, wall art, candles and photos when crafting your brand-new boudoir. Make a few carefully considered choices instead, respecting the mantra ‘less in more’ – two or three tasteful throw cushions on the bed look better than an overbearing heap of them. Trust your instincts and ditch any accessories you’re umming and ahhing over – especially older ones. Take moving house as an opportunity to cull some of the things you’ve fallen out of love with. The whole cut-throat thing is almost therapeutic when you get started, and you’ll be left with a much simpler, more holistic finished look at the end.
True, some things in life have sentimental value and deserve to make the cut when it comes to deciding what to take with you to your new home. But other things can end up being more of a burden. Take sofas, for example. What works for one property could quite easily clash with another. From 3 seater sofas that don’t actually physically fit in your new lounge, to armchairs that are simply wrong for your new home’s aesthetic, there’s nothing worse for interior design than trying to make something go that, well, doesn’t.
With that in mind, it’s best to take a ‘refresh’ approach to certain larger items of furniture when moving house. Look at your new living room and envision what you’d want it to be like if you didn’t possess any furniture at all. Chances are you’re thinking of something different to the set up you currently have. Don’t be afraid to follow your gut instinct and make sure you go for a style that’s suits your new home’s unique aesthetic. You might swap out 2 seater sofas for a selection of quirky armchairs or explore corner sofas for larger rooms that crave a laid back vibe. If you need to, change that overbearing rectangular dining table for something round, small and tasteful, and don’t be afraid to ditch old bedframes in favour of newer, more modern alternatives. That way, you’ll really feel the benefit of moving into a new space and you’ll have the fun of developing your interior design skills too.
Decorating a new space from scratch needn’t be stressful if you do a bit of careful risk assessment first and avoid those common pitfalls. That way you can avoid the dodgy ‘experimentation’ phase and produce stellar interior design that instantly just works.