Getting design right

By Anne-Marie Appleton


During the years I have seen some major and minor interior design mistakes – some can be very costly to correct and others can easily be avoided. So here’s a run down of the common design errors I come across…

Common mistakes

  • Scale and proportion – make sure you pre-plan. A common mistake is oversized couches squashed into a space, with no room for anything else. Take some time out to measure your key pieces of furniture to ensure you can get it all in
  • Badly hung art work – either too high or too low. The tendency is to hang too high, try and keep to eye level. Some art work needs space around it, other pieces look better grouped
  • Mixing too many wood tones – use no more than three different stains in a room – that includes flooring, cabinetry, tables furnishings – re-stain if need be
  • Hanging cheap looking curtains – might be fine for students, but casual window fashions are rarely a suitable investment for an elegant living area. Tailor-made custom fit curtains never go out of date. Hang your curtains higher and wider than the actual window and it will trick the eye into seeing a much larger window
  • Skimping on lighting – ceiling lights, pendant lights, floor lamps, wall lights, table lamps, even candles – all add interest and layered lighting creates a great ambience and can hide a multitude of sins.

General advice

  • Don’t buy everything from the same place or copy the whole look from a magazine. Be inspired, but add your own personal touches – don’t be too matchy – this leaves the room looking a bit flat, boring and dare I say it, amateur
  • Try to do some of your own research. The product which you think you should have, or have fallen in love with, may not actually stand up to your expectations. The internet makes this task easier
  • Clutter makes rooms look smaller and can bring on unnecessary stress – keep the more interesting pieces on show and hide the rest
  • In themed rooms you need to know when to stop – be subtle and don’t overdo it – break it up with a few neutral pieces
  • Don’t be tempted second guess the interior designer – we come to your project with an unbiased workable plan – your friends and family don’t
  • Choosing trendy colours for custom sofas, chairs, drapes will quickly make pieces feel and look outdated – do it only if you really, really love it
  • Don’t impulse buy – nothing worse than getting it home and then realising it doesn’t work/fit/looked great in the shop but hideous in your lounge
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help – interior designers are approachable and will often take on smaller jobs if they have the time.

Ann-Marie Appleton is the director of interior design company Frobisher Interiors. She holds a diploma in interior design and is a member of DINZ.

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