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Interior Design Don’ts – Living Rooms


Picture the woman in the elevator who reeks of that nasty perfume which because she has worn it for years, she is immune to the lethal dose wafting from her body causing your gag reflexes to attempt relief of your immediate pin-point headache.  Bad interiors are created with the same immunity.  Sometimes one doesn’t see what is in their own environment.

Remember how Glamour Magazine created their wonderful little section of do’s and don’ts with the black box over the people’s faces?  Well, here is the interior design version.  This is not about being critical but to point out the dated, missed opportunities and design faux pas people make when they are too close to a project or have lived with something far past its expiration date.

Most people can identify a well designed interior regardless of their personal taste.  Balance, symmetry, proportion and even color when done well feel pleasant to most.  It doesn’t mean they identify it or can even describe it but the overall sense of comfort is recognized.

In this two story living room below,  by renowned decorator Bunny Williams, the effect is calm, peaceful and beautiful.  The room is easy but with an appropriate amount of visual stimulation.  Unlike the above room which is visually unsettling, out of balance and lacking any comfort or peace.

Superb Living Room by Bunny Williams

What muddles interior design in our own homes is ego.  Just because you love something or paid X amount of $$ for it doesn’t make it wonderful and yes, I’m going to say it: not everyone has an understanding of what works and what does not.  The problem snowballs when someone just keeps adding “to make it wonderful”… not.

Here are pictures from real homes (Lila Delman Realty and Keller Williams Realty) which highlight common mistakes made in many home interiors.

Oh, this could be so chic and fabulous.  Just because three sofas are available… don’t buy them.  Rooms this large require multiple seating areas and appropriate focal points.  As shown these black leather sofas are a complete miss.  Lamps and side tables would help the space become intimate and inviting.  These big walls scream for art, not one little painting hung like an afterthought.

Eclectic, no.

Is this a store or a house?

Way too much going on. No surface is left alone.  The point of the fabric on the coffee table is?  None, don’t do it.  The eye always needs places to rest.   At home it is appropriate to display a few, select items.  Edit, edit, edit.

Mixing patterns can be really wonderful but one has to mix the scale as well.

Finally, unless the sage green walls are a focal point (not) please paint the ceiling otherwise the eye constantly drifts upwards which makes the inhabitants uncomfortable.

Office or home?

The focal point could be the TV wall, so floorplan accordingly.  This haphazard grouping of what was left from the last house does not invite one to come sit down.

Oh and how about a color scheme?  “Builder White” is not the finish coat for ceiling paint.

Don’t forgo drapery, something has to soften this room and cut down on the echo.

The obvious don’t is the fight going on between the wood floor and cabinetry.  Coordinate woods or use painted cabinetry.   Effort is required for successful living room interiors.   Always have a plan.

  • Don’t decorate a room without a focal point.
  • Don’t place furniture without a floor plan – too much is always too much.
  • Don’t shop or design without focus – too many styles isn’t cool, its clutter and visually over-stimulating.
  • Don’t merchandise your home like a store – homes are for enjoyment and comfort on filling with stuff.
  • Don’t just place anything in a room.
  • Don’t forget a color scheme.
  • Don’t forget necessary lamps or tables.
  • Don’t forget the ceiling!
Whatever your home design, being mindful is a requirement for a successful interior decor.
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3 Responses to Interior Design Don’ts – Living Rooms

  1. Carly

    These are great! You cut right to the core, but in a good way.

    I think I’ve got some cleaning to do. That “store” comment is ringing in my brain. Lot’s of people do this. Thanks.

  2. Oliver @ Sabi Style

    The space by Bunny Williams is a great example of balance in design.

    I find the room with the black sofas really interesting. It is an “almost right” – I am with you on the artwork. The walls feel so empty and the space just feels so uninviting.

    Fantastic post!

  3. Thanks Oliver! I like how you put that “almost right.”

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