1. Hanging artwork too high. I see it all the time and I’m afraid I will go to my friends’ homes and point this out (they thank me for it, most of the time). There must be something in human nature that says hang it up high, but think about it: art is there to look at, so it should be at eye level. Stick to this rule and you’ll find it all works much better. Go and have a look at where your art is. Is it too high? Does it make sense?
2. Buying rugs too small and placing furniture around them, not on them. My rule is this: buy rugs as big as you can afford. Put your furniture ON them, not around them. There are always exceptions to every rule but, in general, this approach looks and feels much better, grounds your furniture and defines spaces within multi-use open plan areas like living/dining rooms.
3. Forgetting about lighting. Lighting is key. It’s so important when it comes to creating a layered interior. It’s another layer all on its own. Overhead lighting, in most living areas, sucks. It might work in kitchens and bathrooms but it is often too harsh in living areas and does little to create ambience. Consider table and floor lamps at different heights and brightnesses to mix it up. Install dimmer switches where you can.
4. Thinking you can’t/it’s not worth making an effort in a rental home. This one REALLY bugs me and probably deserves its own post. Most of the homes I’ve lived in in the last ten years have been rented. In fact, I think I did the least with the one I owned! A home is a home, whether you own it or not and there is plenty you can do without making permanent or structural changes. Furniture, rugs, soft furnishings and art (hello, 3M hooks!) can all be taken with you when you leave. Don’t be afraid to invest in them. PLEASE don’t deny yourself the pleasure of living in a stylish, comfortable home that reflects you as its occupant until you grow up/buy your first home. That would make me really sad.
5. Too many rectangles. It’s easily done. Think about it: lounge, coffee table, rug, dining table, TV unit, doors, bookcase. All rectangular? All at right angles or against walls? It happens! Try adding a circle here and there, whether it’s a rug, a juju feather hat on the wall, a couple of round cushions, an ottoman, a round coffee table… Thanks for the lightbulb moment, Megan Morton!
6. No flow because every room in a home is completely different. While it is tempting to use every room in your home as a fresh palette to experiment with the latest trend/colour/style, try and avoid it. It will make your home feel like a collection of small spaces, not one larger, flowing whole that all ties together nicely and feels like it all belongs together. I don’t mean make everything match, but think about some common elements between all your rooms, whether they be colour, furniture style or overall look.
7. A dominating sofa. Again, this happens a lot. People choose HUGE, masculine-looking couches in dark colours like chocolate brown or black and they completely take over a room and become the feature. Try and pick something a little more subtle, maybe go for a smaller couch and a couple of arm chairs, break it up a bit with throw cushions in lighter colours. Consider colours like tan, stone and grey rather than black and dark brown. A couch is usually a big investment piece. Give it some real thought before handing over the credit card. And while you’re at it, your lounge doesn’t have to be right up against a wall. Try pulling it out a few inches, let it breathe, see what happens. If you don’t like it, push it back!
8. Rushing into big purchases. Try not to, it never ends well. If you really want that Jardan lounge, maybe you should wait 6 months and save up until you can (almost) afford it rather than buying the cheaper one. You’ll probably keep it for years. Moved house and want it all looking perfect within two weeks so you can have the housewarming so rush out to buy everything in one shop? Recipe for disaster. Don’t do it! Simply sit and consider your purchases for a bit longer and see what happens. If you still really want something after two or three months, you’re probably on the right track. I’ve blogged about taking your time before.
9. Being scared of colour. Don’t be! Colour is awesome and it doesn’t have to be OUT THERE, it can be subtle. You may really like creams and browns and that’s ok, they’re colours too. But don’t go neutral just because colour scares you. Use it in little accent pops here and there with a largely neutral scheme. Be brave and experiment. Pick up a colour wheel from your paint store to see which colours go together (or contrast) well. Look to your wardrobe, and nature, for inspiration. Have fun with it.
10. Forgetting texture. When you feel like you’ve done all of the above but your room still doesn’t quite come together it may be that you’ve forgotten to add texture. Or to have more than one texture. It’s amazing the difference the addition of a chunky knit throw, a linen cushion, a leather ottoman, natural basket, sisal rug or velvet cushion can make. If you’re still scared of colour (see above), play up your texture instead to stop a room looking and feeling flat.
I have so many more but you have to stop somewhere! What would you add to this list?
Thanks to all the interiors experts I may have picked some of these up from over the years! In the interests of my readership I am going to refrain from commenting on feature walls, recliner chairs or too much plastic kids’ stuff 😉