After running my Decorating Masterclass (more to come), I realised that many people come up against similar issues when decorating their home. It could be you want to inject some new life into a space and create a different look or feel, or that you have a new home that needs to be decorated from scratch.
Let’s run through the top 5 mistakes people make when decorating their home.
1. Not Selecting Furniture in the Right Scale for the Space.
This is when the furniture is either too small and the space looks bare, or more often, the furniture is too big for the space and the room ends up looking cramped and small. In either situation the space doesn’t feel right.
Ensure you have measured up how big your sofa, coffee table and side board should be. As a rule of thumb, the coffee table should ideally be 2/3 the length of the seating area of the sofa. A buffet lining up with dining, should also be about 2/3 the length of the width of the table.
Your sofa should come away from the wall at least 200-500mm and there should be clearance for exit and entry points and ease of movement around furniture.
2. Not Investing in Well-designed Key Pieces of Furniture, but rather Following Trends
By key pieces of furniture, I mean the big-ticket items such as a sofa, dining table and chairs, an occasional chair or a feature sideboard.
It’s best to invest in these key pieces by investing in good design and well-made pieces, as they will stand the test of time. Accessories and decorating pieces can bring in elements of current trends if you like, but by investing in your key pieces, you have a great base to work with – always.
Those with young families are sometimes worried about investing in a good quality sofa as they are concerned the kids will trash it. The frame is critical to a well-made sofa, so it can be easily reupholstered if the bones are solid. I have a velvet upholstered sofa and have little kids, and it wears brilliantly. With the wide range of heavy-duty fabrics available, there is no shortage of choice for beautiful fabrics that are also going to withstand the beating it will endure with a young family. And further – by buying something once, because it’s a well-made piece means that it won’t end up in land fill – so a great sustainable story too.
These classic Minotti chairs were re-upholstered in a lush velvet. Good quality stands the test of time.
By choosing classic design, and following your heart with the colour and material it may be, you’re less likely to tire of it and replace it.
I still have my occasional chair and sideboard that I purchased in Amsterdam 20 years ago. I saved long and hard for these pieces – and they still look amazing!
The ‘Gelderland’ chair that I bought in Amsterdam 20 years ago – classic design lasts.
3. Using a Rug That’s Too Small
Rugs are a fabulous way to anchor and zone a space, particularly in open plan living area. So often I see a rug that’s far too small for the space, and normally it’s under the coffee table and no feet ever touch it!
A rug should always have the front feet of all the furniture on it or be large enough that all furniture sits completely on the rug.
Either of these scenarios means the rug creates the zone for the space, but also means your feet touch the rug, and you enjoy the warmth it provides.
For a rug under a dining table, you need to ensure the rug is 500mm longer than the table and 1m wider than the table to allow for chairs being pulled out, and still being on the rug.
Examples of rugs the right size for the space.
4. Not Using Plants for Instant ‘Wow’ Factor
Plants are the fastest and easiest way to add instant effect to any space – dining rooms, living rooms, bathrooms, kitchens or study areas – yet I see people hesitate as they are afraid of them dying. Ensure you select easy care plants such as Monstera, Devil’s Ivy, Peace Lily, or a Philodendron and you can’t go wrong. All of these plants require infrequent watering and will let you know when they need a drink! Real is definitely the preference over artificial.
Plants add a sense of calm to any space and are so easy to introduce. A potted one on the island bench, a tall plant in a corner, one on a ledge in a bathroom, a pot of Devil’s Ivy trailing on a shelf, or even cuttings from the garden in a vase on the coffee table.
Don’t underestimate how plants can change the way a room feels.
Plants or any type greenery add instant ‘wow’ to any area of the home.
5. Setting Up a Living Area Without a Conversation Focus
So many times I see living areas set up in a lineal fashion where all seating is facing internally to the TV. What is a such a shame in this scenario is twofold: 1. The layout is not conducive to people having a conversation as they are not facing each other and 2. There is often a garden and outdoor space to look out to, yet all seating is facing inside, so there is no indoor/outdoor feeling.
To combat this, face your sofa in such a way that there is a view to outside, as well as to the TV. Have an occasional chair face the sofa (perhaps on an angle), so there is opportunity for conversation (the conversation triangle I like to call it).
A sofa facing towards the garden and TV is the best scenario, and a chair to create the conversation ‘triangle’.
I find that placing the TV on an entertainment unit, rather than wall mounted, gives you more flexibility with its placement and also the ability to move furniture around to maximise conversation.
These are some of the key mistakes I often see, but with careful consideration, your rooms can also look and feel inviting and relaxing.
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