Ten Design Debacles I See in Customers’ Homes

Hiring an interior designer was once only for the wealthy, but today there is a sea change occurring that affords most homeowners the opportunity to hire one. The trend has brought forth for me more interior design consultations. Some consultations simply involve my professional advice and some consultations evolve from there to full design projects. In either case, I’ve come to realize that with the likes of HGTV and other DIY media outlets showcasing home improvement scenarios, some homeowners are getting themselves into trouble.  It can be hard to recreate what one sees from a home improvement show without professional knowledge of the total scope of the project.

That’s where I come in to assist.  Most commonly, there are ten design debacles that I’ve encountered during the consultations.  You might find yourself nodding your head as you read through the list.  If so, let this be your indicator that it’s time to remedy the situation…some on your own… and some with the help of a professional interior designer.

  1. Remove the Clutter

In this case, less is MORE.  If you haven’t purged items in your home for a while, it’s time.  Start with one room a weekend so as not to become overwhelmed.  Look around you and decide what should be trashed, donated or kept.  If you don’t truly love an item, it should be removed. No more papers stacked on tables, no more clothes thrown haphazardly in the room and in the closet, and definitely, no more I’ll save it because I might need it. Remember to purge the garage, too.  It seems to be the overflow catch-all for unwanted items. You will feel a more positive energy in your home once all the “unnecessaries” are removed.  Tip: If you need a push to get started, watch organizing expert Marie Kondo on Netflix or go grab one of her books. 

  1. Too Much of a Good Thing

Now that you’ve gotten rid of unwanted items, does your room still seem over decorated?  What’s needed is possibly further editing and then, rearranging for a fresher and more open look. If you have trouble in this area, hire a design professional to best optimize the space.

  1. Balance and Scale

This seems easy on the surface but finding items that are proportionate to a space can be challenging. I find lopsided rooms where the furniture is all on one side, small sofas in a space screaming for a larger one and vice versa, and lighting that is way too small for an area.  It is important to take the time to measure the height, width and depth of a large item.  This goes for lighting, too. Finding the right combination of balance and scale can be daunting but you can do it if you plan (and measure) for proper placement.

  1. Decorating with the Elephant in the Room

Still have that 80’s furniture piece or Aunt Edna’s table in the house that you look at with despair?  You’ve created a design around the piece and now you’re looking at your space with no joy in your heart.  If this is the case, it is time to remove the elephant.  Move it to a different room, update it with paint, or give it to someone who can really appreciate it.

  1. Favorite Store

We all have our favorite go-to furniture, lighting and accessory stores, but too much of a good thing makes for a boring design. When designing, it’s about incorporating pieces that reflect your family’s style and personality. Thoughtfully mix family heirloom pieces with current and stylish new items from different sources to create an interesting and beautiful space. Shake things up…get out of your “favorite store” comfort zone and bring in a piece that excites the senses.

  1. Too Trendy

Trends cause a whirlwind of excitement, but like a whirlwind they end abruptly, leaving a trail of “what was I thinking?” or “I need to renovate.” Here’s the secret…your interior design should reflect your unique style. Buy items that inspire you and bring you joy. Think these three Ls: livability, longevity, and lovability when considering a trendy purchase…Can I live with the piece for a while? Will it stand the test of time? And will I still love it 1-5 years from now?

  1. Color Confusion

One of the most common mistakes I see is wall color.  Choosing color can be daunting. Does it match my furniture? How do I coordinate my main color with different colors in bedrooms and bathrooms? This is truly one area that spending a couple of hours with a design professional saves time, money and angst.

  1. Color Risk Aversion

Neutral colors like white, cream, and gray are safe bets and of course, they do add a sophisticated flair. However, unless you are going for a monotone feel, all neutral can be too much of a good thing.  Adding color using pillows, artwork, and accessories elevates a space from ho-hum to warm and inviting. Buy the velvet blue and gold-trimmed side chairs or that stunning deep green sofa.  Life is colorful…let your space reflect the beauty that surrounds us every day. 

  1. What’s the point?

Basic design begins with a focal point like a fireplace, a beautiful window with a view or one that you create. A focal point allows for proportion and scale. It brings purpose to the space. You can even create your own focal point.  Some ideas include a built-in, large piece or collection of art and yes, even a wall-mounted TV.  Now that you have determined a focal point, it’s time to design the furniture, lighting and accessories to feature it.

  1. Stalemate

I see clients, oftentimes,  because they are at an impasse with their design. They have bought a piece here and a piece there and don’t like how the space is evolving.  They are at a stalemate with their vision.  Creating a design plan is paramount.  It is with this plan that measurements are taken, paint color and fabric samples are developed, and  furniture, lighting and accessories are determined for the scale of the space.  Avoid a stalemate and create a design plan or seek the help of a design professional.

If you have encountered one or more of these design debacles take heart. Good interior design is not easy…there are a lot of moving parts that need consideration. Take a deep breath and step into your design with a plan, lots of patience, and an open mind. You’ll come out on top with a lovely space to enjoy.

Comments 5

  1. Jillian Lare

    I think one big mistake clients make is not reserving funds for the finishing touches like pillows, artwork, and accessories. That last layer of detail makes all the difference in how a room feels.

  2. Leslie Carothers

    These are all great points, Donna, and I especially like your 3 *L’s* and the last one, Loveability.

    Thanks for laying all of these considerations out so clearly.

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