Interior design bloopers – and how to fix them

Life’s too beautiful to spend in an ugly home, so repair those interior design blunders today.


Your home is a haven, where mind and body can rest. But some people’s living spaces are far from tranquil. Happily, the rules of interior design are simple, and some improvements are as simple as re-organising your existing furniture and fittings. Others may require an investment of time, money and effort. Here are our top seven tips:

Conversation spaces

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Make a room conversation-friendly by moving chairs and sofas in from the walls. This will create a more intimate space and also lets you fix another common design mistake: a too-small rug that ‘floats’ in the middle of the floor like an afterthought. Rugs should touch or reach under your furniture for best effect.

A solution

If large pieces are an encumbrance to movement or intimacy in a room, move or replace them.

Wrong colour, wrong furniture

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Painting a room before furnishing it is a bit like buying clothes for someone you’ve never seen. A better route is to select furniture and art to suit the room, then find a colour that brings everything together. Simple.

A solution

You don’t need to ‘solve’ this one, just repaint the room – or choose your furniture then your paint colours.

Culture clash

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Patterns are beautiful – in moderation. Put too many of them in one room, however, and you have a quilt makers’ party gate crashed by grandma’s apron. It’s so easy to get it wrong; native American and Persian rugs in the same room, or paisley cushions on your floral couch, won’t make your home unliveable but they’ll definitely keep it from being the relaxing haven you want. Keep it simple and if in doubt, go with block colours.

A solution

If you already have a room with too much going on, consider spreading the offenders around the rest of our home.

It’s your home, not a museum

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Life should be an accumulation of experiences, not junk. Rooms filled with too many mementos and “objet d’art” are more likely to inspire headaches than interest. Decide on a focal point, a bigger piece that creates a context for the small but tasteful collection in the rest of the room.

A solution

Acquisitions made over decades of garage sales can just as easily be offloaded in one of your own …

Impulse buying/leads to crying

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On the shop floor it looked so right. At home it looks so wrong. The trick is to shop with purpose, measure and plan your space, carry a tape measure and not be swayed by fashion. Impulse buys are usually one-offs but in extreme cases can be furnish-the-whole-house-from-one-shop-in-one-day disasters. If you’re tempted, take a photo and sleep on it.

A solution

If you’re tempted, take a photo and sleep on the decision.

Varieties of light

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Film stars owe a lot more to lighting directors than they would care to admit. It’s the same at home. Diffuse natural light is beautiful and soft, and letting it into a room can lift the spirits and show your furnishings and decorations at their best. At night, keep things relaxed by using floor lamps or dimmed sources rather than too-bright overhead fixtures. Free-standing lamps count as furniture, so choose them carefully, but even cheap lamps can be alluring if carefully selected.

A solution

Use globes with the same colour temperature and fixtures (wall- and ceiling-mounted, on side tables and free-standing) with the same style.

A blanc expression

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It’s hard to go wrong painting a room white and then experimenting to find the right highlight piece of art or furniture. But even this simple approach can go wrong; north-facing rooms can become unwelcoming, and avoid any temptation to match white with cream or beige.

A solution

If you’re going with white walls, have some strong coloured highlights in every room, supported by some more muted shades and contrasting colours for variety.

Too many family photos

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A family portrait, or a selection of family photos on a shelf, is a lovely touch. But a never-ending gallery of selfies, holiday snaps and family photos can be quite off-putting to guests and denies the opportunity to add variety and interest throughout the house.

No more than one shelf of small photos, or one large piece, per room.


Disclaimer:

The information in this section has been prepared as general information only without consideration for your particular investment objectives, financial circumstances or particular needs. Read the full disclaimer.