Big bad blun­ders

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SUNBIZ -

AC­CORD­ING to ex­perts, mak­ing dec­o­rat­ing boo­boos is more com­mon than one would think, de­spite the many ar­ti­cles, books, guides and in­ter­views with in­te­rior de­sign­ers out there. Say some in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als, some mis­takes are so eas­ily com­mit­ted that even de­sign­ers long in the busi­ness them­selves make them.

In this ar­ti­cle, in­te­rior de­sign­ers weigh in the most com­mon in­te­rior de­sign mis­takes that al­most every­one will, if not would have al­ready com­mit­ted, in their homes.


Too of­ten, ex­cited home­own­ers have an idea of what they want their home to look like with­out tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the cost and space needed to recre­ate that said look.

It is good to know what you want a par­tic­u­lar room to look like, but es­tab­lish a bud­get and mea­sure the di­men­sions of the room first. With the nec­es­sary in­for­ma­tion at hand, it will be eas­ier to take your dream de­sign and re­work it into the “tem­plate” that you have.

Look for on­line room ar­range­ment tools to help with vi­su­al­is­ing your dream de­sign and plan the room layout be­fore start­ing work on it. It takes a lot of plan­ning to get that dream home you saw on Pin­ter­est. More­over, ev­ery item that goes into the room should com­ple­ment each other. It is com­mon to for­get that prin­ci­ple, which has seen many home­own­ers pur­chas­ing items in iso­la­tion and do not think how it could or can’t work with the other pieces.


Hav­ing a good layout will also help you avoid un­nec­es­sary spend­ing on fur­ni­ture that ends up clut­ter­ing a space.

Home­pol­ish in­te­rior de­signer Ash­lie Mastony re­marked that it is more fi­nan­cially savvy to in­vest in one slightly ex­pen­sive state­ment piece than buy­ing lots of in­ex­pen­sive small ac­ces­sories to func­tion as ac­cents.

“The most com­mon in­te­rior de­sign mis­take I see is when peo­ple buy lots of small fur­ni­ture pieces, or piles of ac­ces­sories, to avoid in­vest­ing in a big high-im­pact item like a great sofa, an awe­some head­board, or an amaz­ing piece of art. In the end, the lit­tle things cost just as much and space feels clut­tered rather than co­he­sive,” Mastony said.

Hut­sly founder An­thony Gros­bois chimes in say­ing, “A small sofa plus a small ta­ble and a small lamp equates to a small idea. Con­sis­tency is not al­ways a good thing! Play­ing on the scale of your fur­nish­ing is a great way to add some in­ter­est to your room.”

Lon­don-based in­te­rior de­signer Abi­gail Ahearn agrees too, adding that one sim­ple styling mis­take could pre­vent a room from reach­ing its full po­ten­tial. “If ev­ery­thing is the same size or if ev­ery­thing is ei­ther too big or too small, your room will read like a hot mess,” Ahearn ex­plained. “The eas­i­est trick is to think of your space as a city and fill it with a com­bi­na­tion of heights and pro­por­tions. Look at any cityscape and you’ll find this in­trigu­ing mix of scale and a unique blend of fas­ci­nat­ing shapes ... that’s what you want to nail!”


Just one ray of light, that is. Most Malaysian homes have the typ­i­cal flu­o­res­cent tube lamps in their home. What’s im­por­tant is hav­ing lay­ered light­ing op­tions and dim­mers in the home.

“Light­ing is in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant in any space. When light­ing is washed over you from above, it can be un­flat­ter­ing and harsh,” said EyeS­woon founder Athena Calderone.

Calderone notes that over­head light­ing of­ten seems like the most ob­vi­ous choice, but var­i­ous light sources are needed to cre­ate an am­bi­ence, es­pe­cially a cosy and cap­ti­vat­ing one. “Al­ways choose soft white bulbs. Harsh flu­o­res­cent or white lights can make a space feel stark and un­invit­ing,” she added.

In­te­rior de­signer Mary Cook shared her tips on choos­ing the right light­ing. “You have to think about the colour of light, the quan­tity of light and where to place it. You have to think about light at var­i­ous times of the day and var­i­ous times of the year,” Cook said.

“The best way to de­sign your light­ing for suc­cess is in lay­ers with as many of those lay­ers as pos­si­ble to be switched sep­a­rately and on dim­mers. So now you can ad­just your light­ing for what­ever kind of mood you want,” Cook added.

Cit­ing a re­cent project with her part­ner, Michael Smith, the duo shed some light on ways to layer light­ing in a home. “In two-storey foy­ers or stair­cases, we will of­ten use clus­ters or group­ings of fix­tures to­gether to add im­pact at the right scale. In the din­ing room, we in­te­grate chan­de­liers or pairs of chan­de­liers to light the space and add dec­o­ra­tive in­ter­est. Ta­ble lamps are next to the liv­ing room sofa or on a night­stand in the bed­rooms.”


Rugs are largely un­der ap­pre­ci­ated ac­ces­sories. In the day of open con­cept homes, rugs serve to de­fine spa­ces and draw bound­aries be­tween the var­ied func­tions of a home.

The liv­ing room is a prime ex­am­ple of when a rug comes in handy. Sadly, not only is there a strong dis­like for rugs in Malaysian homes – pri­mar­ily due to “high main­te­nance”; the wrong size is usu­ally picked out for its in­tended func­tion.

“Liv­ing room rugs should be big enough for at least two legs of each fur­ni­ture piece to be on it, if not all four,” said home style ex­pert Emily Hen­der­son, who lists small rugs as one of her de­sign pet peeves. “A liv­ing room rug should re­ally ground the whole seat­ing around it. It tells every­one that this is where the con­ver­sa­tion is. A small rug makes it feel dis­jointed and re­ally cheap­ens ev­ery­thing.”

Hen­der­son in­sists that liv­ing room rugs should be at least 8ft x 10ft. “Con­sid­er­ing a 4ft x 6ft? Don’t. That’s fine next to a bed, in a kitchen, or in an en­trance way, but a 4ft x 6ft rug will as­suredly not work in your liv­ing room.”


Lastly, never give in to the pres­sures of hav­ing the lat­est home de­sign trends. Even lead­ing in­te­rior de­signer and TV per­son­al­ity Nate Berkus be­lieves the same. “The mis­take peo­ple make is that they’re of­ten in­se­cure. They look over their shoul­der and lis­ten to what every­one else is talk­ing about in­stead of sit­ting down and ask­ing, ‘What do I re­ally love?’”

So, take time to sit and jot down what you like within your home. Do re­search and skim through the com­mon blun­ders men­tioned above to en­sure you haven’t made the same mis­take. Then slowly but surely dec­o­rate in­te­ri­ors in the way you would feel most com­fort­able liv­ing in.

Trends merely serve as in­spi­ra­tion for fu­ture re­dec­o­ra­tions and as a point of dis­cov­ery of one’s pre­ferred home de­sign. The rule of thumb – cre­ate a home that you would love to live in rather than one that is just nice to look at.

Too large and bulky. Bal­anced fur­ni­ture.

De­pict­ing a home that is ‘lived-in’.

Func­tional light­ing.

Decor or clut­ter?

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