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Publication Date: 2015-09-08

Design Insights

Pro Designers' 11 Biggest Decor Dislikes

After years of projects, these experts know how to size up a room at first sight. And these common mistakes are the little things that they notice immediately.

Image: Sollina Images

1. Poorly Positioned Art. "I can't stand seeing art hung too high!" says Katie Martinez of Katie Martinez Design in San Francisco, California. "It should be at eye level, not way up on the wall." To be safe, the best height is often considered to be 57" from the floor.

Image: Gerenme

2. The "Floating" Rug. It's all about missed opportunities on the floor, says Amie Weitzman of Weitzman Halpern Interior Design in New York, who hates seeing rugs that are too small for the proportions of a room. The better route: Make sure you get an area rug that (at the very least) extends to under each piece of furniture in a seating arrangement.

Image: Spaces Interiors

3. Too Many Open Shelves. "There's too much opportunity for messy shelves — instead, keep a good proportion of closed doors so you can hide the chaos," Weitzman says. If you're stuck with open shelves, cull your collection (do you really need all those souvenir mugs?) and hide clutter in prettier storage bins.

Image: Fotosearch

4. Defaulting to Stainless Steel. "Don't build a diner in your kitchen," urges architect and designer Michael Davis of Michael Davis Architecture and Interiors. "I frequently differ with clients about the trend to overwhelm their kitchens with stainless steel appliances. While a functional material when used properly, stainless steel is also vulnerable to dents and scratches and tends to age badly." The other big thing: Stainless steel appliances break up the flow of traditional cabinetry create what Davis calls a "gap-toothed" effect.

Image: Robert Daly

5. Personality-Free Living Space.

Putting perfection over personality often ends in a room that feels anonymous, almost like a hotel lobby. "One of the most important aspects of home design, is no matter how simple or elaborate the interiors are, the idea of the human presence is most important," says Toronto-based designer and artist Vivian Reiss. "If the design does not succeed in making people feel welcome in the space, they have failed in the idea of what a home should be."

Image: Roy Mehta

6. Matching Everything. "Matching furniture sets, be it for the bedroom, dining room or beyond, drive me batty," says Jacquelyn Clark of Lark and Linen Interiors. "Rooms that have been purchased from a single source always feel like they're lacking in both soul and character." Instead, Clark encourages you to take your time to pick pieces that coordinate and complement one another, much like you would with your wardrobe.

Image: Bloom Image

7. Naked Windows. Even if you don't have much wall space or decent window casings to work with, don't leave your windows bare, says Michael Foley of Foley & Cox in New York. "The trick is to approach the obstacle with creative thinking — that can sometimes lead to the most inventive and unusual solutions!" he says. While you might have to go custom, a well-dressed window makes a big impact in any space.

Image: Getty / John Kim / Eyeem

9. Basic Wall Switch Covers. These are the decor equivalent of wearing plastic jewelry with a formal gown. "I don't like seeing the 50 cent light plates or outlets, [especially] in a high end room," says Kraiem. "If you spend so much effort and money in making your house stylish, buy screwless plates such as the Lutron ones. They come in every color and you could match them to the wallpaper or paint to make them disappear."

Image: Getty / Ryan McVay

10. Beds Made with Comforters. Amie Weitzman has another big pet peeve: "Beds that are made with comforters instead of a bedspread or blanket." Though often necessary for a good night's sleep, they can make beds look bulky. "Comforters should be folded at the end of a bed," she says.

11. Too Much Clutter. "Less is more," Kraiem says. "A room looks more put together when it's styled with fewer accessories. I prefer to use larger or the right accessories, instead of many small ones."


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