After so many years in the business (I’m not saying exactly how many) I’ve seen some truly beautiful spaces and some spaces that desperately need help. Over the years I’ve come to realize that there are some mistakes that keep showing up in home after home.
This week I thought I’d share some of the most common design mistakes in the hope of helping you avoid them.
It seems logical that you might want to get the house painted before you move in. Or maybe you want to make over a room and you know that switching out the paint colour will give you the biggest overall change.
STOP right there…you can’t just randomly pick your paint colours. Paint colours must relate to the entire look and feel of a space. This is why it’s important to select textiles first and know the direction of the space. This is also why I take 3 hours to pick your paint colour…because we go through everything about a space…how you use it, furnishings you own now, future plans for the room and then, and only then, do we get to paint colour.
Colour is just that important.
There are many factors involved in furniture arrangement…function, flow, layering and balance. There can be many ways to arrange a room, but having all the furniture pushed up against the walls is NOT one of them.
The big trend now is layering. So move your furniture off the walls and cozy everything in. Then start layering by using console tables, area rugs, stumps, stools and lamps. These accents need to placed in front of the larger furniture and AWAY from the walls.
Not combining various patterns is a common mistake. I’ll admit, it does take practice and talent to be able to mix patterns together. But if you don’t start sometimes, you’ll never be able to get a sophisticated high end look.
There are some easy ways to start mixing patterns. Just remember: stripes can pair with most patterns, a herringbone pattern can act as a neutral, texture can’t be overlooked, it’s more about balance and weight then it is about matching, and never use a solid if a pattern will do.
Ask any designer and they’ll tell you that their biggest cringe is seeing a room furnished from one store. It doesn’t matter if it’s a matching set from a big box store, or a room full of furnishings from the latest ‘it’ store. In the end, it’s way too predictable.
What you want to do is have a good mix. Pair a bit of modern with vintage. Incorporate something rustic with something shiny. It’s important to not only mix patterns, but also styles. This is what gives a room it’s soul.
Every room needs a healthy amount of tension. Tension is when something is just a bit off. Trust me when I say that rooms feel better when they aren’t perfect.
Tension in a space brings life and energy. It’s what keeps a room from being boring. It’s a little bit of the unexpected. It could be as simple as throwing in a toss cushion that matches nothing else, or hanging a piece of art in an odd place…it’s adding that little bit of ‘weirdness’ that immediately says, this room isn’t too serious.
Lighting is more important then you think. It’s often overlooked as a design element, yet it’s crucial to good design. It’s not just artificial light that’s important. Natural light is beneficial to our overall health and well being, and when designing spaces, it’s important to allow for it.
Human beings are like moths, we’re not only attracted to light, but we’re affected by light. When I taught school, as well as when I was raising my sons, I used light to control behaviour. When things were getting out of hand, it was time to dim the lights. Even now, as a mother of teens and almost teen, I find that dimming the lights and making the house cozy makes for a better evening.
Make sure that every room has different levels of lighting. In a world that runs at a high pace, it’s important for our homes to be calm and nurturing. As any photographer or theatre person knows, the right lighting sets the mood.
I know you’ve heard this from me before, but I’m going to say it again…hiring a professional interior designer is really worth the money. If you truly are a DIYer, then at least hire a designer for 3-5 hours at the beginning of the project to provide ideas and get the project moving in the right direction.
If you hire a good designer, I guarantee that their advice will actually save you money, not to mention time and frustration. To me, that’s a good deal.
Karen Fron Design is a full-service Interior Design Firm located in Calgary, Alberta. We specialize in bespoke residential & commercial interiors, custom furniture & draperies, and whole home renovations.
“A well functioning and beautiful home makes life better.”