It turns out that the most common interior design mistakes are also the easiest to fix! And that’s good news, since many of us live with a lingering sensation that something in our interior design is a bit “off.” Take a look around and see if you are committing one of these common interior design errors.
1) Hanging art too high.
Take a good look at the photo above and below. Notice how the painting and artwork is hung so that the average person, when standing, will be able to look in the center of a painting. (In galleries, that means that the center of most paintings hovers about 60 inches from the floor.) You should aim for the same in your home. It’s important that any painting work within the context of a furniture grouping. It needs to relate. For that reason, even if you are hanging a piece in a great room with very high ceilings, you should aim to hang artwork at a level that still connects with furniture. Notice how nicely these pieces relate to the furniture groupings around them.
And here in this hallway, the piece is hung at a level in which you feel like you could become a part of the sculpture:
Note that it’s okay to go higher on a wall when you are creating a “salon” effect by hanging several paintings:
2) Going overboard with houseplants.
Plants can be a beautiful thing in a home, bringing in a bit of nature indoors and acting as a natural air purifier. But people often get carried away with lots of little cuttings in jars scattered about on every free surface. The effect is one of clutter and chaos. In fact, houseplants are best used as a sculptural element. That means going larger, paring down and thinking carefully about placement.
In the room below, three carefully-placed large tree branches add a natural, balanced note that manages to bring in lots of greenery while totally working within the clean, minimalist confines of the room:
In this room, one well-placed houseplant looks just like another sculptural element, picking up perfectly where African masks have left off:
In this ultra tiny East Village studio, one plant manages to bring the outdoors in, dispelling any feelings of claustrophobia without taking up a lot of space.
3) Retreating to Neutrals.
People are so terrified of making design mistakes that they often opt for the easiest choice when shopping for furniture or choosing wall colors. They go beige. Or gray. The effect is one endless expanse of greige on walls, rugs, couches, etc. It’s bland, boring, and totally lacks personality. And sure, it can be tasteful at times, but it’s also so safe that it lacks dynanism. The room below is a perfect example.
If you’ve got a case of the “greiges” know that it can easily be remedied by injecting a bit of color into your home in places where you feel safe doing so and at a relatively low cost.
You can paint the walls a dramatic color, or invest in an interesting patterned rug:
You can throw some patterned textiles into a room, via sheets, blankets and pillows:
You can opt for one colorful piece of furniture, such as this yellow couch:
Or this one, complete with colorful pillows and artwork to boot.
Sometimes, all you have to do is add a fluorescent pink stool!
So if you’re guilty of committing one of these design errors, take heart. It takes just a moment to fix these problems and you’ll find your home’s interior much improved.
Although this is a thoroughly 21st century living room, isn’t there a hint of the suburban American ranch house of the 1960s here too?
The home in Menlo Park, California by Spiegel Aihara Workshop synthesizes the best of both eras.
A thick hallway ceiling of solid wood is balanced over a glazed walkway.
Its 21st century stone tiles gives way to a 20th century cliche; the suburban “carpet” of mowed grass.
The weighty wood ceiling is a far cry from the acoustical fibreboard ceilings of the 1960s, but is designed to achieve the same end, softening sound.
The low-slung building with its flat transitions between materials is very 60s, yet the minimalism of the wood treatment utterly updates it.
The design is not attempting to be archly retro, but simply accepting and modernizing the tradition.
But a surprise: above the kitchen a raised skylight (21st C) gives a breather from the relentless horizontality (20th C) of the ranch home, bringing cool light in to its center.
From the cool dark shaded kitchen, a view out to the garden – you can almost see the Letraset children playing in the sun.
At the far end of the wing, the bedroom has all the openness and spare grace of 21st century minimalism.
The low-slung house is oriented to offer a cool respite from the heat of Menlo Park.
On the other side of the entry wall, an archetypal walled-off slice of the new suburbs that were still a miracle in the 60s.
The car is accepted right into the home in typical ranch style.
Its cross shaped plan gives garden views out both sides of every room.
The architects have successfully re-appropriated the traditional forms of the California ranch house, but with genuine sincerity, taking the good, and honestly trying to improve on the original.
Suspended above ground like a Japanese lantern is this charming Oriental garden folly by David Jameson Architect.
The bronze, red cedar and glass tea house/meditation space appears as if by magic in the garden of an otherwise pedestrian suburban home in Betheseda, Maryland.
The family will use the space not only to delight in its beauty, meditate and enjoy a tea ceremony, but to showcase performances of music recitals.
A giant steel moment frame above the edifice suspends it in space, so that someone practicing meditation is actually floating above the world.
The smooth refinement of its red cedarwood ceiling adds to the pure focused intensity of the simple structure.
Not only does this send a reddish glow at night from the suspended “lantern” but it also clarifies the musical notes during recitals.
By day the space blends unobtrusively into the suburban garden.
But by night, the exquisite, almost magical space calls to you, compelling the resumption of meditation.
“One is funneled into a curated procession space between strands of bamboo,” says the architect; “conceived to cleanse the mind and prepare one to enter the object.”
“The visitor occupies the structure as a performer with a sense of otherworldliness.”
The exquisite refinement of the structure and the mass-produced industrial steel truss that holds it up don’t seem at odds with each other.
Both worlds, the modern industrial steel, and the beautifully finished lantern room it suspends in space are best fit for their purpose.
There is a wonderful, serene, perfect peace to this setting: a glassed in great room that opens at its center out into a precious view of the few trees beyond.
The great room is the heart of a rustic retreat in drought-stricken Texas for a young military family.
Bare bones materials like polished concrete flooring throughout and just plywood on the walls and ceiling are paired with beautiful construction design for a distinctive retreat on a budget.
Their desire was for a getaway for family and friends to escape city life – without sacrificing a hip urban edge.
In addition to a fan, outside, a tall screen overhang keeps the great room cool and breezy.
The setting houses several rainwater harvesters to wring every last drop from the parched skies.
Originally the clients were going to position the house at the top of the hill, but instead chose to set it between the only trees on the property to give it context and community.
Like these vets, the surrounding trees are survivors in this arid landscape.
A deep earthy burgundy together with the stainless steel appliances in the kitchen complement the simple plywood walls and ceiling.
A city ordinance requiring housing for 2.5 cars resulted in this shaded pavilion that the couple wanted to be designed so it could actually be used for outdoor dining.
Brushytop House was designed for this young family of four by San Antonio-based studio John Grable Architects.
A dramatic U-shaped patio encloses a pool under a square box of the moody Columbian sky.
A series of pool patios and open-air living spaces culminate in a central pool on a very grand scale in this Columbian vacation home from Arquitectura en Estudio and Natalia Heredia.
Huge garage-door style wooden shutters can open as an awning — or close the house when not in use.
All around the pavilion-style residence, these wooden exterior shutters are designed to close by bi-folding, as in the bedrooms — or they can slide closed as giant movable walls.
This means that the vacation retreat can be fully closed up when the clients are away.
By contrast, when used as a vacation retreat, the house is barely enclosed; just a series of dramatic open pavilion spaces.
This openness suits the tropical hot and dry climate high above sea level in the Columbian mountains.
The dining is al fresco, as is all life in this secluded mountain idyll.
But even here, daylight floods down into the shower.
From inside this fully open pavilion-style bedroom, there are sweeping views out across the mountains.
Full height sliding walls open to a sudden framed view to the mountains when receiving guests –
– but render the house a mysterious fortress when closed.
The stately modular plan opens the house completely open on the front to the mountain view, while completely closing it off where it faces the approaching road to the back.
It is not just a beautiful layout though.
The striking textural palette comprises whitened concrete, semi-pervious cobblestone parking and a rich red cedar wood.