As professional designers we often get asked to fix structural or simple design mistakes that could have easily been avoided. After mulling it over, we decided to share – from our experience – some common design mistakes and recommend some simple solutions; so you don’t get stuck.
So, whether you are a young designer, design enthusiast or DIY practitioner, here’s to spreading knowledge! Enjoy the read and let us know if you’ve had any similar challenges.
Not Budgeting before Buying
The Mistake: Many people don’t realize how important it is to have a budget before buying, when designing a space. It is an investment and with any investment, it is important to spend wisely. The last thing you want is to get halfway into your project and realize you would go broke trying to complete it.
How to Avoid: Have a complete checklist of the actions you want to take and the products you intend to buy. Call artisans and vendors, do your research in finding the cost estimates for services and products. Finally, assign a cost for each service and product, not forgetting to include transportation, shipping costs and contingencies.
Not Working with Measurements
The Mistake: People often miss the fact that the most important part of designing is measuring your space and even creating a floor plan. Getting a visual of a potential space will help you see what you need and what furniture you can use in the existing space.
How to Avoid: Before you buy any furniture or even before you start making any plans for furnishing and decorating, you need to measure your space! Measure everything once and save the measurements for easy reference when you are shopping later on. During Shopping, measure furniture and soft furnishing, compare these measurements with previous measurements of the space and make sure it can fit into the space before buying. This comes back to another important design rule — scale. Measuring will help prevent items from being too small or too big for your space.
Styling Bulky Furniture in a Small Space
The Mistake: Styling a small sized space can be a bit of a challenge even for professional designers. Without guidance, a DIY design of a small space can go wrong in many directions. It is important to know that bulky furniture have no business being in a small space, they take up a lot of space and make the room look even smaller.
How to Avoid: In designing small spaces,simply opt for lighter furniture pieces instead of the bulky ones, to lift the space. Choose color palettes that reflect light for walls, furniture and soft furnishings. Using suspended shelves as opposed to standing shelves can also give more room for leg space which contributes to making the room look bigger.
The Mistake: Yes, there was a day when matching furniture sets were all the rage, but that is definitely not the case now. While furniture items tend to be sold as sets in retail, sometimes this dulls the charisma of a space. It can actually make your space look and feel like a catalog, more than a lived-in place.
How to Avoid: Avoid matching everything. A space needs variety in order to feel inviting and comfortable. In terms of color, this usually means two or three tones used in different amounts and in different ways. You can also play with a single accent color using various different hues.
Not Incorporating Empty Spaces
The Mistake: Design theory promotes the use of negative space (empty space) for elegance and ensuring a quality user experience. Sadly, many people consider empty space wasted space. They think it could be used to house more visual elements. When every space contains something to look at, sensory overload occurs and the eye drifts aimlessly without noticing individual objects.
How to Avoid: The concept of negative space pervades all aspects of design, whether in art, architecture or interior design. One of the main advantages of negative space is its ability to eliminate distractions from an outstanding feature and to enhance its effect. Standing back and viewing a room from where it’s most frequently seen can often reveal how an empty space could be used to highlight something you’d like to show off.
Placing Furniture Against the Wall
The Mistake: This is a common error that many homemakers end up making, perhaps because it seems like the logical thing to do to place cupboards, chairs and couches against the wall. However, although this might give the impression of opening up a room, it can actually ruin the feeling of openness because you’re left with space in the middle of the room that goes to waste.
How to Avoid: Placing chairs in the middle of the room can make the room cozier and make people feel more connected; a couch in a more central area of the room can be a focal point and look homelier than if it is shoved to the side and out of the way.
Choosing Looks Without Considering Function
The Mistake: It can be very easy to forget about functionality when buying furniture or soft furnishing that is aesthetically pleasing, unfortunately, not every beautiful product is highly functional or even functional at all. Designing functional living spaces means creating environments in which everything has its place and each function is accounted for.
How to Avoid: Before you buy something such as a sofa, a table or a lamp, don’t just look at its aspect. You must also take into consideration things like function or comfort. Take a minute to see if that sofa feels right when you sit on it or if that lamp is really what you need for your desk or reading corner.
Using Inadequate Lighting
The Mistake: Finding the right balance when it comes to lighting is difficult but also very important. You can easily use too much artificial light in a room or too little. Either way, the space won’t be comfortable. Relying on one source of lighting like a ceiling fixture, is never a good idea.
How to Avoid: Different types of lighting need to have different purposes: task lighting, ambient lighting and general lighting. Evaluating a space and deciding on what type of lighting it needs is an important design decision. In addition to a ceiling fixture, a room needs mid-level lighting for warmth and tasks like reading. Some spaces way benefit from ambient lighting that helps create a mood. Accent lights are important for highlighting special accessories or art.