Common interiors mistakes and how to avoid them

Making interiors mistakes in your home can be costly. You have a plan, you stick to it but things just don’t seem to look like how you envisaged.

If you look at why that’s happening it’s most likely because you’re cutting corners somewhere along the line. You’re picking the cheaper lamp and forgoing the one you really want. You’re in a rush so you don’t sand the door properly – you know the drill.

I’m no expert, but in my experience these mistakes are entirely avoidable and have helped me in making interiors decisions. I’ve picked them up from books, online and just by trial and error. I hope they help you, too.

Common interiors mistakes and how to avoid them - Caroline Allen

White is a fashion statement

Do you remember on The Devil Wears Prada when Miranda Priestly lays into Andy for describing fashion as “this stuff”. The monologue is nothing short of amazing.

Andy behaved like she was somehow exempt from the fashion world because she didn’t care what she wore but in wearing what she was wearing she was still making a fashion statement.

White walls are the Andy of the interiors world.

People think by painting everywhere white that they are going to outlive trends. Hey, maybe you think you won’t ever have to paint your white walls again because white will be fashionable forever.

Sorry to break it to you but you’re wrong. White, just like every other trend, will go away. Bold, thick, floral wallpaper was all the rage in the 70s. People woudn’t have dreamed of painting their walls plain white.

You’re not excluding yourself from interiors trends by being neutral. Neutral, too, is a trend. So, if you want to paint your walls black or your ceiling green, then do it. It’s just paint.

Testing the colour

When you really want to just get going on a project, it’s hard to spend days testing out different paints. It’s so worth it.

Listen to me, somebody who painted their hallway the entirely wrong colour and is now going through the painstaking process of repainting it. This is one of the easiest interiors mistakes to avoid.

The best tip for this is to get an A3 piece of paper and paint it in your desired colour. Move it around the area you’re thinking of painting throughout the day. Look how it’ll look in different lights and decide whether it works, whatever the lighting situation is.

Common interiors mistakes and how to avoid them - Caroline Allen

Buying something cheaper instead of what you really like

It’s hard because things are expensive. If your taste is really expensive and you can’t afford it, then you are going to have to make sacrifices.

But, for this point I’m talking about small decisions we make everyday. Perhaps you’re heading to a shop to buy your perfect lamp. You’ve hunted it down and you love it more than you love your family.

It’s £150. But, on arrival you see a similar one – not so nice, but cheaper – for £75.

This happens to me all the time. Get the £150 lamp. Don’t compromise because that lamp will never be good enough and you’ll end up replacing it further down the line.

Furniture that’s too big or too small

This commonly happens when you move house and your old furniture has to fit into different dimensions.

We’ve still got a TV unit that’s far too small for the space. I would agrue that small is better than big, though. Once, my parents bought the largest sofas I’ve ever seen and tried to cram them into our lounge. It’s so funny looking back on them.

Take your time before buying furniture. Take a tape measure and measure the space. I mean, come on, it takes two minutes and could save you years of regret.

Figure out what your style is

Not everybody will come into our house and love the decisions we’ve made.

Your house isn’t about other people. You’re the one who has to live in it, so if there’s a massive ceramic duck you fancy putting on the coffee table then do it.

Keeping that in mind, it’s important not to mindlessly copy Pinterest, unless you’ve really drilled down on what your style is.

Mine – for example – is mid-century modern with a hint of boho. It’s pretty evident in every room of my house. For consistency, I only save Pinterest photos that fit into that aesthetic. That doesn’t mean I don’t like other styles. I love minimalistic, monochrome, farmhouse, modern, but I can apprecaite them from afar without thinking they will work in my house.

Caroline Allen - Wall Hooks

Small space tips

I’ve learnt this one the hard way, too.

This is in every interior designer’s handbook and I’ve come to realise just how important it is. If you’ve got a small room, you can’t fill it with dark furniture. It makes the space look so much smaller.

The idea here is that you want to reflect the light. So, go for light fabrics (curtains, carpets and sofas for example) and if you’re dark at heart – like me – then accessorise the room with darker accents.

Oh, and while we’re on this – don’t add loads of heavy furniture to small rooms. You want as much floor space as possible so think about things like floating shelves and beds on legs. This is one of those interiors mistakes you probably don’t know about until someone tells you and then you’re like OH YEAH.

Putting all of your furniture against the wall

But there’s so much more room for activities.

You’d think that putting all your furniture up against the wall would give the illusion of more space but it doesn’t. The best case scenario is that it makes your house look empty. The worst is that it makes you look like you’ve just had a party and so you’ve shoved all your possessions against the wall to make room.

Don’t be afraid to pull a sofa away from the wall. A tip I read – and which I think is quite handy – is to look at things like sofas from a conversational standpoint. Face them towards eachother to warm a room up.


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