Top ten decorating mistakes
We all know that DESIGN MISTAKES happen. Some are worse than others. There are some that are TRULY BAD ONES. However, it is very difficult to find photos to demonstrate these mistakes since rooms with these flaws are rarely published or photographed!
SCALE OF FURNITURE
This can mean that the SCALE is way too LARGE for the size of the room, or it can mean that the scale is too SMALL. In extremely large rooms with high ceilings, if the furniture is not large enough, it will look like doll house furniture in the space.
I have a wonderful client who came to me as they were getting ready to build their house (by the way, it’s always better to hire the designer when you hire the architect---the project will always benefit by having a TEAM collaborating from the beginning). The only piece of furniture that they had already purchased was for their library/study. It was a lovely room with a high ceiling, but relatively small. Her husband bought a huge sofa that literally took up one third of the room---a brand new sofa. We worked around it, but the room looked much smaller than it needed to look. Thankfully, the ceilings were tall and that helped.
A good designer will create an ELEVATION when deciding on scale. Designers should ALWAYS do furniture layouts on a plan. Frequently when scale is in question, an elevation should also be drawn. This is why it pays to hire a professional. No one who is working in a store really knows what your rooms look like or how to handle scale unless they have a professional interior design department.
ALL UPHOLSTERED FURNITURE
I’ve mentioned this before---BORING!! Yes, you need to have wonderfully comfortable seating in a room, but you MUST have chairs that add character to any room. This is what I mean by character chairs:
JSC Caroline Chair
JSC Rothschild Chair
Really bad lamp
As I’ve often said, lamps, sconces and chandeliers are to rooms what SHOES AND HANDBAGS are to clothes-----and, I do mean that for both men and women. I have seen rooms that would have looked great had it not been for the lamps. ALWAYS budget for lamps in the beginning of your project or when re-designing a room. They are truly more important than almost any other element.
Turquoise Murano lamp with 22k teardrop inclusions, c. 1940
JSC Venetian Series #3 in amber
FURNITURE PLACEMENT IN MIDDLE OF ROOM
I wish I had a photo to show you this situation---there have been many times that I have seen this---a rather large room with a sofa and chairs as well as all of the rest of the furniture sitting in the center of the room with an enormous amount of wasted space around the perimeter. The room looks as though it is half the size it truly is. Here is an example of a room with an incorrect layout followed by a layout I did in order to create MULTIPLE SEATING AREAS. Just look at the difference!
CHAIRS FLOATING WITH NO TABLE OR LAMP
Pity the person who has to sit in this chair. Where does their coffee cup go, their glass of water or wine go, and HOW can they possibly read in a chair with no light? This always amazes me! There is a quote in my new Lookbook, “EVERY CHAIR DESERVES A TABLE.”
JSC Stella Chair, Amalfi Nest of Tables, Capri Floor Lamp & Kyle Bunting rug
ART THAT IS HUNG TOO HIGH
People tend to hang art so that it looks to be the right height when standing. Art should be hung so that it also is the correct height when SITTING, which is what most of us do in our rooms.
KARATE CHOP PILLOWS
This trend went out of style in 1982, but MOST UNFORTURNATELY, it is still around----if you are karate chopping your pillows, please STOP now. This is just as dated as huge shoulders, and bad 80’s hair. I can look back at photos of myself and the only ones that are unbearable are those from that time period. Movies from the 80’s have the same extremely dated look for the most part.
TOO MUCH CLUTTER
Collections are wonderful and I’m all for PERSONAL touches, but editing is important as well as how they are displayed. To show you a lovely example of a way to display them, look at any room David Hicks designed---he understood how to work with clutter.
Collection by David Hicks
NOT WAITING FOR THE RIGHT PIECE
SETTLING for anything that doesn’t really work is never a good idea. And, this leads to the last of my top 10……
WORKING WITH A MISTAKE
You’ve made a big mistake in buying a too large sofa, a piece that just doesn’t fit, or an antique that is difficult to work with----whatever the mistake is, always remember---it only becomes a larger mistake when you try to make it work by buying other pieces to make THE MISTAKE work. Remember the old saying “Putting good money after bad”. That says it all. If it is a mistake, all of the money you might spend is a waste if there is a decorating mistake in the beginning.
Please don’t feel badly if you have made one or more of these mistakes---as I said in the beginning---we all make them. It is my hope that this little list will help prevent them in the future.