When it comes to our areas of expertise, we all have pet peeves. Think about it: Chefs are known to be picky about how to cook an egg, writers are sticklers for good grammar, and professional organizers can't stand clutter. It's only natural, then, that interior designers, who spend their days analyzing rooms, have their own set of design "mistakes" that make them cringe without fail.
Of course, we had to find out what they are, so we asked four interior designers to share the worst decorating offenders that make their skin crawl every single time. Some answers were to be expected—no one likes curtains that fall short—but others genuinely surprised us. Can you guess the one thing that interior designers can't stand about your countertops?
Find out straight from the mouths of some of the most talented folks in the industry. Thankfully, they've also pointed out how to fix 10 of the worst apartment decorating mistakes.
Using Ceiling Fans
"Ceiling fans are one of my biggest pet peeves," Christine Stucker admits. "They're the result of a poorly planned space that lacks airflow or proper cooling. Whenever I remodel a room with a ceiling fan, I always take it down."
Her solution? If you do need to cool down a room, go for a split-system air conditioner or a free-standing fan. Problem solved.
Forgetting to Measure Your Rug
"I'm a firm believer that the rug is a unifying element that pulls a room together and should anchor the furniture pieces," interior designer Stefani Stein explains. "Sometimes finding the perfect rug in the perfect size can be tricky, and going custom isn't always an option." Fair enough. If the rug of your dreams isn't quite the right scale, try layering. Just be careful to avoid textural overload.
Not Lining up Countertop Seams
"I strongly dislike an ill-placed countertop seam," Stein continues. That's a fair point. After all, there's nothing worse than having the seam, where two pieces of stone are joined, be too thick, or be front and center. Not only is it kind of an eyesore that can distract from the overall kitchen design, "but it feels a little cruel to mistreat beautiful materials in that way," she adds.
Stein's preventative solution: "I always make sure I review the seam locations with the fabricator and have them chalk the template out for my approval before the stone gets cut,"
Not Layering Enough
"While one piece can certainly transform a space, we often forget how important the sum of multiple parts can be when designing a room," Katie Hodges notes. "If you have one great piece of furniture without the appropriate supporting cast, the space tends to feel like it's lacking."
Instead, look at your design as consisting of multiple layers—base furniture pieces, floor coverings, window treatments, art, and accessories. The balance of these elements yields an aesthetic that's warm and comfortable. "My favorite rooms make the eye bounce throughout the room—up, down, side to side—taking it all in without focusing on one standout item in particular," she says.
"Our design philosophy is less is more," Stucker notes. "Many of our clients want an oversize, cozy sofa in their living room paired with large, bulky chairs for extra seating when entertaining. By being smart about the pieces you buy, you can actually add more seating space without all of the bulk."
Daybeds and benches are perfect solutions for expanding seating space while still achieving a refined look.
Hanging Art at the Wrong Level
For New York-based interior designer Tali Roth, it all boils down to hanging art at the right height: "I hate it when you spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on arwork, and it's hung above eye level and looks completely odd," she says.
"The general rule of thumb is to hang art at eye level for the average adult height in the space or, more specifically, to have the center of the painting hit at 57 to 60 inches from the floor." Noted.
Choosing Matching Furniture
"My number one issue when going into a new client's home is when they have all matching furniture. It's not necessary to have a matching set to make a room come together," Stucker admits. Instead, mixing styles and genres is a much more creative way to create an attractive, well-textured room. One way to achieve this is with pops of color and interesting layers.
Add unusual and striking pieces to create a clear focal point in a space.
Most designers would agree that buying a furniture set is not the way to go, but Stein goes a step further to also include unexpected elements: "Matchy-matchy décor is not my thing," she laughs. "For me, it always feels like those spaces are trying too hard. Don't be afraid to push the boundaries a bit and incorporate something unexpected, whether it is with textiles, furniture lines, material finishes, or even new versus old."
Using Boring Accessories
Another thing that makes Roth cringe: meaningless décor. "Make sure that your styling pieces or home accents are pieces that make you smile," she instructs. "Ensure that they all vary in shape color and texture and that you have indeed collected most of it over time."
She's not wrong because, for some reason, items that you really love tend to look great together as opposed to faux art or pieces you purchased in a hurry to fill wall space.
Not Creating Contrast
"A tone-on-tone room can be stunning and timeless, but one of the common design mistakes is not considering contrast between furnishings," Hodges explains. "When you take away the element of color, you must focus on getting the necessary contrast and interest in other ways for the room to feel right. Using varying wood tones and shades of color, you can make a tonal room feel multi-dimensional and interesting without using multiple colors."
For example, if you're using a dark table in a dining room, keep the rug several shades lighter than the table to achieve contrast. Or conversely, a light table should get a darker rug underneath. Opt for chairs that are at least three shades lighter (or darker) than the table. By mixing wood and color tones, you allow each item to be distinguished and keep the space feeling light.
Getting the Scale Wrong
The ultimate culprit: "Nothing looks more odd than a long curtain that misses the floor by five inches," Roth notes. Hodges, who also agrees that hanging curtains is a fine art, has a few words of wisdom, too: "The higher the rod, the taller the window will appear, so mount your curtain rod closer to the ceiling than the top of your window. Depending on your ceiling height, I recommend going six inches below the ceiling."