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Five classic interior design mistakes

Interior design mistakes can be very expensive.  And whether you’re a professional or an amateur, it’s likely you’ll make one sooner or later, so try and learn from them rather than lament over how much they’ve cost you.  On the other hand, you could try and avoid them altogether…some thoughts:

Don’t Employ Idiots

OK, this might not be the best way to phrase this and of course, you should take responsibility for everyone on your books and involved in your project but sometimes idiots creep out of the woodwork and you’re lumped with them.  My (ex, I should stress) decorator put on wallpaper the wrong way round once.  My client called to tell me that the paper had literally slid off the wall.  What is more the (ex) decorator tried to blame me, despite the fact that I had shown him the paper before hand.  Idiot.

I cannot labour enough how important it is to get instructions in writing.  Draw up simple plans and elevations and make sure everyone knows what you want and how you want it done.  Even if you’re talking to someone with decades of experience, you still need them to know how you want the job done.

This is even more important when it comes to quotes.  I’ve recently had my fingers burnt by not having paperwork from tradespeople and it can put a strain on relationships when costs are higher than anticipated.  Ensure you get all costs in writing – especially the extra jobs that tend to be added as the job is in progress.

Measure, measure, measure, THEN cut

This is the advice of any good tradesman.  When you are dealing with expensive fabrics or wood or glass or tile, it is a costly business to make your mark a little short.  The same advice is just as valid for measuring the space in your room.  Many an interior designer has fallen for this one – when the gigantic sofa looks amazing on plan but in reality has no way of being brought into the building.  Always measure the access points for large art, furniture and baths. Baths also require sturdy floors, so measure that too!

Showroom halo

Screen shot 2014-03-09 at 17.03.18Some things can look great in the showroom but have lost their appeal by the time they get home.  This is often the case when they’ve been displayed in multiples in the shop.  A collection of colourful vases or lanterns looks incredible in the retail environment but the solitary item looks a little lonely when you get it home.

You also need to bear in mind that the showroom has a colour scheme and lighting décor of its own and this is unlikely to be the same as yours, so it simply might not match.

Don’t be wowed by the showroom but equally don’t be put off by scruffy stores.  You need a good eye to route through salvage yards, auction rooms or outlet stores but you can find some key pieces here at better costs than the department stores and designer showrooms, which have everything neatly displayed and highly priced.

Colour samples

Screen shot 2014-03-09 at 16.57.50While paint isn’t the most expensive item on the interior design spec sheet, it does take time and labour to put it up and if you get it wrong, it can cause headaches.  There’s nothing worse than walking into a room the decorators are just finishing up and you know in your heart the paint is wrong.  I did this once and while the client was perfectly satisfied, all I could see was the pink tinge in the grey walls.  (Oh yes, you think it would be easy to copy those posh paint colours but it’s not, you know…)

So don’t rely on the tiny sample blocks, buy a sample pot and paint 2 or 3 large pieces of paper then stick them on to the walls so you can see how the colour looks in various lights.  Leave the colour papers up and walk in on them and ‘surprise’ yourself.  Your gut reaction will tell you if it’s right or wrong.


Don’t be a complete wuss

Haines wide - smallIf you play everything safe, your room will be dull.  End of story.  Have at least one thing in the room that you absolutely love and be brave enough to go for it.  Then coordinate the rest of the scheme around that piece.  If it’s a wild wallpaper and you think it will be overpowering then just use it on a feature wall.  If it’s a strong colour then keep it just for accessories.  If it’s a fabulous piece of lighting then have courage and install it, I promise you you’ll always love it.

And most importantly, do NOT care what other people think.  (Unless they live with you then it’s advisable to take them into consideration.)  However, if you’re worried about the neighbours, or your mother-in-law, or the people who might be buying your house in five years time, please dismiss them from your head immediately.

This is your home.  Your canvas to express your opinions.  Enjoy that freedom.

If you need any help with being brave, measuring up, or keeping a rein on idiots then please do not hesitate to contact me and we can talk through your project.


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