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How not to interior design the perfect house

by Niki Schäfer of Dwell-Being Interior Design, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire

Perfection is a myth.  There’s no such thing as a perfect body, no perfect marriage, no perfect job and certainly, no perfect house.  (I’m sorry to be the one to burst the bubble.)  If it helps, there are perfect moments.  Fleeting instances of perfection appear, but they go as quickly as they come and they’re as slippery as soapy children to control.  If you’re careful, you can keep them in your memory bank, but there’s an art to appreciating them and storing them safely without accidentally bursting them.

The problem is we all aspire to perfection. I could blame the media or society but I don’t think it would help (allocating blame rarely does help I find, it tends only to fuel the situation by having us continue to focus on the issue).  So let’s instead have a look at how not to be perfect.  How to be imperfect, maybe.  Here’s how to design the imperfect house.

Don’t copy the Jones (or Worthington-Smug-Kleins)

Copying someone else’s taste will never make you feel like you own the place.  You’ll always feel in someone else’s shadow with that lingering sense of being second best.  Besides, what will you do when the Jones’ re-decorate?  Copy them again?  Surely it’s better to discover your own sense of style and taste.  Wouldn’t it be easier to sit down with an interior designer and discuss how to create a stunning decorative scheme based on things you genuinely like or happy memories you have, or pieces you have inherited and have sentimental value to you?  Surely this is a million times better than copying what next door’s done.

Don’t compare your own home with someone who has far more money than you do

Firstly it’s just a cruel thing to do to yourself, so only ever compare apples with apples.  But secondly, let me assure you that money does not equal good taste.  Money often just means being able to afford to accommodate bad taste.  Admiring the wealthy is a terrible habit.  In truth, you’ve no idea how they became so affluent – it’s more than likely they work excruciatingly long hours and probably don’t have the time for their own children’s birthday parties so, for your own sake, keep your wealth envy in check.

Don’t copy hotel chic

Unless you travel a lot and only use your home for a couple of months of the year, then seeing your house as a boutique to impress others will never work for you.  Your home is where your family live and where you seek comfort, warmth and security.  I suspect you don’t get room-service at home so take a few colour ideas or maybe a fabric or two for inspiration but don’t try and achieve the look that requires a concierge and a bell-boy.

Don’t decorate using only the latest fashions

Unless you want to be changing your home as often as you change the clocks!  If you like the über-fashionable then make them the accessories that can be changed easily.  On the other hand, if the latest fashion makes your heart sing and is a true reflection of how you feel and what you want to say to the world, then of course celebrate wildly with your celery green wallpaper and your petrol blue sofa.  Just so long as you love them for the foreseeable future.  Believe me I love all the pink crocodile wallpaper that’s around at the moment but I’ve got to ask myself whether I’m going to love it just as much this time next year.  If you’re unsure then use your fad favourites for the downstairs loo.  This is the most forgiving room in the house and always good for some decorating fun.

What could your downstairs loo say about you?  It’s a thought worth thinking about.  Send me your ideas and please check out the Dwell-Being Designs Facebook page too.

Pink croc loo


Niki Schafer is an interior designer and lifestyle coach, and director of Dwell-Being Interior Designbased in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire

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