Last weekend I did a 14 hour round trip to deliver a talk at the Essential Edinburgh Life and Style event. The organisers asked me if I’d talk about what I consider the worst design crimes and well, I had a lot of time to think about it! Here’s my top 13 (because I couldn’t stop at 10), and just to be helpful, I talk about how to avoid them too. It’s all a bit tongue in cheek as I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of a few of these but now you can’t say you’ve not been told.
Rather controversially I’d rather be offended and outraged by an interior design scheme rather than well, not moved by any emotion at all. In my view interior design is a great way to express creativity, and celebrate design. So yes, have an opinion, and I don’t care if you don’t like it. But lets not have boring copy-cat Pinterest-porn schemes. Good design is all about tapping into your inner interior design goddess. Dare to be different and push the boundaries.
No one who follows this blog is going to be surprised at this one! But in all seriousness, beige interior schemes literally kill me off quicker than a Night Walker from Game of Thrones. However if you are going to live your life in neutral- then please watch my video on how to decorate with neutrals here, because all too quickly beige falls into bland.
Fist impressions count and never were truer than when considering the entrance to your home. Sure you want to create a lovely welcome for guests but you also want to be met with a good vibe as you walk through the door and I’m astounded how unloved our front porches and hallways are. Recycling bins, scooters and heaving hallways stuffed full of coats and shoes have a lot to answer for. So get some systems in place, use the wall space, build a shed for the bins and paint your hallway an eye- poppingly happy colour!
Now this is a very modern day problem and as we are the generation of rabid consumers and our homes are straining to cope. The pain is very real and results in more family arguments than is worth any box set collection of DVD’s. If you’re redecorating this is the perfect time to be ruthless- because I promise you your newly decorated room will fail spectacularly as soon as you put all the clutter back. No amount of tasteful Farrow and Ball paint will disguise it. So plan in some sufficient storage and if it don’t look pretty; hide it behind some cupboard doors.
Interior designers have always grappled with this far from perfect problem. As much as we chatter on about rooms requiring a focal point- we never meant it to be that gawping big black hole. But TV’s are not going anywhere and they sure ain’t getting smaller. So aside from hiding it inside cumbersome cabinetry, its best I think to try and disguise it. Painting the wall behind it a dark colour, works a treat.
Don’t get me wrong, I love yellow. It’s perky and positive, uplifting and activating. So you really don’t want it in your bedroom do you. Also it makes your skin look a funny sallow colour. Pick a pink or nude neutral- so much more flattering!
It’s been a thing for a while, the idea of painting or papering one wall in something that you’d dare not do otherwise. But those timid days are behind us and the trend now is to very much go for it and paper the whole room or paint the whole space in a bold, pulse quickening deep colour. Or god darn it why not paper the ceiling too while you’re at it! In fact I think feature floors have taken over from feature walls, as seen in the droolworthy home of Erica Davies.
This is especially serious if said pendant light has a drum shade with a sad little light bulb burning down on everyone’s crowns, washing the room in an indiscriminate glare of light. So if you are going to have a pendant light, hang it down low, especially over a coffee or dining table but then layer the light with wall lights, lamps, pendant lights, even a bevy of fairy lights if you must, to create some depth and moodiness to your space.
So I know books are a great way to accessorise a room and make it feel like a home which is what I’m all for. But sometime you need to take a little stock take. Do you really need to keep every tatty holiday paperback book, every lonely planet guide? Surely that DVD collection is now available on Netflicks? Better to create library nook or fit shelving on the landing or study. Book cases need to be curated, and part of the display. And the jury is very much still oput on whether you’re allowed to colour code the spines.
Unless you have a quaint country cottage you aren’t allowed anywhere near short curtains EVER. All curtains must touch the floor. End of. It looks elegant. And if you combine with a blind that you can draw in winter, you get over any heat-piling-out-of-the-window- radiator angst. Although my mum used to always tuck them up over the top of the rad, which is a particularly special look.
Like almost everything in design you can apply the ‘bigger the better rule’ again here. A large rug that fits under 2 thirds of the bed really anchors the room. In the living room a rug should be large enough for the front feet of the sofa to sit on ideally and in the dining room get all the chairs over it. Otherwise you’re just creating a desert island. And while we’re at it a rug is a great opportunity to create a feature floor (see number 7)!
This is where a look has been lifted straight out of the page of the catalogue. You know the one, with curtains that co-ordinate with the cushions and there is a ready to buy collection of vases and accessories that ‘get the look’. You buy it all in one go and move in and never feel you have to change anything ever again. So repeat after me, though shalt never indulge in the overly mathcy-matchy. That goes for three-piece suites and co-ordinating ranges of furniture too.
Artwork is one of my favourite ways to add style and personality to a space and I think it’s really worth investing in. My preferred method is a galley wall because it’s fluid and organic so you can add and subtract over time and it makes a striking focal point in the room. Failing that, again go big. Nothing sadder than a little picture, hung too high bobbing around on its lonesome in the middle of the big bad wall.
Crikey- well that all felt good to get off my chest. If you’ve got any more to add, pop them down in the comments below. I’m sure I’ve missed LOADS out!