Let’s cut to the chase—Kate of Kate Lester Interiors has made her return to the blog today and brought with her a topic that we think is pretty life-changing. (Or, at least life-changing when it comes to your interiors!) She’s sharing five major design faux pas and how to avoid them, so we’ll just pass the mic and let her take it away…
You know when you go in someone’s house and you think “OHMYGAWD what were they thinking?!” And then you smile, and go… yikes, I hope no one says that about MY house. Don’t stress, I’m back on the blog with the top five most common interior design mistakes I see and to (hopefully) save you from making them. Before we get down to business I think it’s important to admit that as I write this I am totally jamming to a playlist of mid-2000’s John Mayer. This means that I am a somewhat relatable normal person who is apparently still secretly obsessed with love songs from her formative years. Why is this pertinent information you ask? Because, while I think this weird quality may make me adorable, it also makes me… well, human. And since we are all human, we’re inevitably going to make mistakes. Mine will apparently be with music, and yours may be with home décor. Trust me, design issues are much easier to fix than learning to live without John Mayer, so I have a feeling that after reading this you’ll all be home décor experts, and I may still just be a thirty(ish)-year-old missing her teen idol.
Do you think this happens because in many homes across America men hang the art, drapes and light fixtures? I have a rule of thumb that if a man is hanging anything, then they should hold it where they think it should go and then move it down 6”-8”. Art (including, yes, any Gray Malin photography) should be hung where you can view the center of the piece comfortably at eye level. Drapery should hit around 1/8”-1/2” off of the floor, and lighting varies a ton, so please don’t guess. If you are unsure, pop open your laptop, head to the Interwebs and Google it. Lots of people have made these amazing cheat sheets for art and lighting heights and it’s all on Pinterest so take advantage of that knowledge and ability to channel their free time into doing something so productive.
Please, please, please don’t pair an 18” baby nightstand with a king bed. Every time you do this somewhere a designer dies a little inside, and do you really want that responsibility weighing on you? I feel like I notice this blatant design scale faux pas most in bedrooms, because people seem to be afraid of filling the entire bed wall with proper sized furnishings. Why?! If you have a 10-foot wall where you are anchoring your bed, then use it! Flank your bed with two three-drawer chests or a large nightstand and a writing desk. Yes, a desk! Utilize this space and you will be amazed that adding the proper scale furnishings will actually make the whole room feel larger. I could literally write an entire blog post on just this topic but there are four other things that I really hope people stop doing so I should move on to those.
If you work for me this is something you learn within the first five seconds of employment. Frames, books, trays, chairs (and pretty much every single thing on the planet ever) looks better straight on. Not to mention that turning furniture on the diagonal is usually not as functional and eats up a ton of space. If you have this situation going on anywhere in your home, please stop reading and go straighten it. Yes, I am talking to you. It’s ok, I will wait. Thank you, that’s much better.
Let’s start with a truth. Cool rugs are expensive, and that sucks. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to business. Stop putting a 5x7 rug in your massive living room because it was really cool but you didn’t buy the bigger one because it was too much money. If you’re wondering how to choose the right size rug for your room, let me say this: Rugs should absolutely anchor an entire seating or dining area. This means the furniture should be sitting on the rug. In my opinion, ALL on the rug, but often times if the room is gigantic, just the front half of the pieces will do. If you have your heart set on a vintage rug but not on the steep price tag, then consider layering. Buy a larger sisal/jute/seagrass rug and add the vintage find on top. This way your furnishings will be anchored, and you will get your chic pop of color and texture with the smaller sized vintage. See… insta-solution! Another way to win this one is to spend on other “wow factor” pieces and consider a more neutral inexpensive rug. I would always rather see an appropriately-sized neutral rug than one that is fabulous but the absolute wrong size for the seating area.
Unless it’s architecturally necessary (which it almost never is) please don’t do an accent wall of any kind. If you wake up one day and decide you want to do something bold and fabulous, then DO IT! Now I am not talking about shaving your head or quitting your job, but I am talking about painting your bedroom, or wallpapering the powder room! Just please, please don’t wallpaper one random wall because it physically pains me. I have been doing this a long time, and I have never had a client say “Oh wow, I am so bummed we went for it and wallpapered the whole room.” In fact, most of the time they actually say “I totally thought this was going to be too dark, busy, sad, bold, etc. but I LOVE it!” So, if you need a change, go all in and go big with the paint or wallpaper on all of the walls, because more is more!
Do you feel enlightened after reading through these? Have you made any of these mistakes and do you swear to never do it again?
If so, don’t be too hard on yourself, my very first apartment had drapes that were too short AND a tiny rug, yet here I am. You live, you learn, and you grow… except when it comes to John Mayer. You know that playlist is still on repeat.
Photos: Lauren Pressey