Room Junkie Anne Tuohy has a no-nonsense guide to conquering common mistakes we all make with home decor.
One – Underestimating the budget
This is the most boring aspect of interior design, but sadly, also one of the most important.
The good news is that you can work within any budget, as long as it is realistic, and proper planning is key to a successful outcome.
Before you begin your design process, you must sit down and calculate all that you will need to purchase and obtain costs for all trades and services.
Leaving a contingency fund of 10% of the overall budget is a wise thing to do, as inevitably there will be an overspend in some area.
There are many ways that you can stretch your funds, I call this my More Dash than Cash philosophy, and I have spoken about this subject frequently. With careful research, you will find many ways to reduce your costs without compromising in any way on quality.
Two – Buying the wrong sized furniture
It is so easy to buy furniture that is too big for your room, and I honestly suspect that this is THE most common design mistake made by many.
Most furniture showrooms are vast and have high ceilings, so a sofa which looked cosy and compact on the showroom floor will actually dwarf your average sized living room.
The easiest way to calculate the correct furniture size is to take the dimensions of it, and then place newspapers on your floor to the exact size. This may sound over simplified, but it is a foolproof way of figuring out very accurately if the piece is the perfect size for your room. Don’t forget to measure the width too. Many a sofa was too wide to fit through a single door!
Also if you live in an apartment, check out the width of the lift opening, and also make sure that the ceiling height is high enough to accommodate a very long piece of furniture.
In this average sized room, these sofa were quite narrow in width so as not to take up to much space, and also, are on raised legs to create further illusion of space. The console tables were chosen to perfectly complement the alcoves either side of the fireplace.
Three – not taking function into consideration
As Steve Jobs famously said ” Design is not just what it looks like, design is how it works!
No matter how beautiful all the individual components of your room are, if the space fails to function from a practical perspective, you have failed as a designer. So consider this carefully, as you plan your design.
In my busy family kitchen, the units are painted in a hard wearing, scrubbable finish, the granite worktop will withstand all the super hot cookware coming from the Aga, and there is lots of carefully planned storage and worktop space.
It still passes the style test though. You can indeed have it all! This kitchen is now eighteen years old, and I still love it!
Four – thinking about lighting as an afterthought
One of the first things you must consider as you begin your design process is your lighting. It is so vital to the success of your scheme, and I cannot overstate this.
Consider whether you need task lighting, a single pendant or multiple spotlights. Do you want to be able to dim your lights, or have all your lamps come on at the flick of one light switch? Do you want wall lights, lights under your bath or kitchen units?
In this averaged sized kitchen, there are three lights suspended over the dining table, recessed ceiling lighting in the functional part of the kitchen, complemented by additional recessed lighting over the sink and worktop. These are all dimmer controlled. There is further task lighting under the top cupboards and at the hob
If you plan your lighting carefully at the outset, you builder will be happy, as there will be no unnecessary chasing of walls, and you will be happy, as you will not incur the extra costs of unplanned labour.
I actually think that the carefully planned lighting scheme here, contributes to the sense of lightness and brightness in this space.
Five – cluttering your room with too much furniture
I am actually having a pop at myself here.
This is the sitting room in the Showhouse that I designed for RTE television’s Showhouse programme. This was my very first design project, and I was probably slightly crazy to have taken it on, but the risk paid off!
However, I made a mistake in this room by using too much furniture.
So learn from this, and don’t think that you must include every single item that you own. Remember my previous rules about form and function, and keep the room well balanced.
I have new rules now. ” If in doubt, keep in out” & ” Less is always more”.
What I wouldn’t give to have a go at the Showhouse challenge now!
Six – using too much colour
Don’t be one bit afraid of colour, however what you should do is pick a few key colours that reflect your individual style, and carry them around the room to create a controlled space. Throwing colour haphazardly around a room is a skill that is very difficult to master.
Good colour coordination is the one thing that will really make a room stand out successfully.
Seven – hanging your artwork too high
Everyone who knows me was probably expecting this one!
I have to confess to having an absolute obsession with art!
For me this is what really dresses your walls and shows off your unique personality. I hang lots and lots of art and do so very confidently. I will mix valuable original art with inexpensive prints and family photographs, knowing that it will always look right. Today, I will share my secret with you and it is a very simple one.
Fact of the matter is, most people hang their art WAY too high! If you remember this art gallery rule and hang your picture 60 inches from the floor to the centre of the art, you will always arrive at the correct height.
60 inches represents the average human eye height, and is used as a standard measurement in museums and art galleries. I don’t even measure anymore, I can do it by eye, but if you adopt this simple trick, you can be confident that you will always hang your pictures at the correct height.
Now that is all very well if there is only one picture. What if you want to arrange two pieces, stacked on top of each other, or four arranged in a square format? The method is the same. Treat the finished arrangement as one picture, and find the centre point, which is 60 inches off the floor.
A useful tip is to position the artwork on the floor first, to work out your spacing between the pictures.Two inches is a good rule of thumb to remember when stacking art and you want to calculate the distance between the pictures.
Now I want you to take a measuring tape and check the hanging height of your own pictures! I strongly suspect that most of you will find that the art was way too high.
This tip that I have given you today is probably the most valuable piece of interior design advice that you will ever receive, and one that most people get very wrong.
Change the height and something amazing happens – all your art now shares a mid line creating immediate symmetry and balance. This is a very pleasing and positive thing to achieve in your home and you will thank me for it.
Have an amazing weekend, and whatever your passion is, feel the fear and do it anyway!
I have my special fundraising Masterclass for Conall Shiels in the Mount Errigal Hotel this Sunday. Tickets are available by calling the hotel, and they have been selling well. I am just thrilled that I could help in this way.
Then on Wednesday, I’m speaking about overcoming challenges and building a successful design business at the Women’s Inspire Conference in Harvey’s Point. It’s going to be an amazing day, and I’m so looking forward to it.
PS. If you would like to contact me for a no obligation chat, you can message me here