For most of us who haven’t been to interior design school, styling our own homes is a process of trial and error, but a labour of love! Experimenting with interior design in our houses is fantastic fun for some people, but can be a bit daunting for others. Some of us may have more of a knack for it than others, yet what we have in common is that all of us have made mistakes – and learnt from them, hopefully. If you are feeling more frequently frustrated rather than fabulous when it comes to decorating your domain - read on - as we reveal the 8 styling slip-ups we most often make. This will help to identify where you might be going wrong, and help improve your interior design mojo!


Although there are plenty of trends and styling obsessions which come and go, there are a core group of interior design conventions which are pretty much timeless, and have nothing to do with fashion. And that’s what we are talking about here. The things which interior designers with years of experience might refer to as golden rules perhaps. These experts are particularly adept at understanding principles of space and scale, which much of it comes down to. We regularly chat with a range of stylists, and these are the errors they report they commonly catch people making in their homes. Recognising these typical styling blunders will assist anyone about to re-do a space or shopping for homewares.




One of the big boo-boos many folks tend to make is failing to take into account the actual scale of a space. Especially when it comes to placing furniture. For instance, in large living areas where the arrangement of furniture is congregated around one part of the room and leaves too much vacant area around the rest of the space. This makes the setting look lost and forlorn. When you are purchasing furniture, you need to really carefully consider the space in the area. For large areas, you need large furniture! Spaces need to be filled. It’s not difficult to ensure functionality and flow, but make your priority furnishing the area in generous proportions. The principle is also the same with regard to height. If your house has high ceilings, you need to be conscious of bringing that height down to a human level, when you are styling. You can do this with artworks, and with lighting. Suspended pendant lights are perfect for this. 




This is a really common mistake people make. Usually involving installing a rug which is too small for the space. The right size rug should really tie a room together. To do that it needs to properly sit under the majority of the furniture footprint in the set-up. If there’s a couple of sofas and a coffee table, the rug should at least go under the front feet of both the sofas, or ideally entirely under both sofas. It’s pretty rare to have a rug which is too large, to be honest, provided it fits in the room. Interior designers often specify ‘area rugs’ which are often custom made, to go across the floor of an entire room or space, maybe leaving about 30cm border between the edges and the wall. A rug which is too small looks awkward and makes the room look and feel small. 



It’s great to have lots of objects and decorative items and other pieces which express your personality and add character and charm and colour to your rooms. But. You don’t want it to start looking messy. When it comes to proper styling, and you want these sorts of things to look good and have their own individual presence, you need to give them some space to breathe. Often, less is more, as far as placing small items around your home. You actually need to be a curator with this. Do they all need to be out and about? Can some be spread around elsewhere, or thoughtfully arranged in groups? Would some things go better sitting on shelves rather than on furniture and surfaces? Finishing touches should be mindfully, not randomly placed around the house.




Also a very popular error! The number one bungle stylists see is art hung too high. This can really throw the scale in a room and wreck the vibe. A rule of thumb is that paintings & pictures should be at eye level, and comfortably viewed when sitting, also. If in doubt, hang low! Obviously art should be straight, and it doesn’t need to be positioned dead centre on a wall. And, just like furniture on the floor, it’s better if art can fill a wall space. You don’t want an artwork looking too small on a large wall, it’s just sad! Art should be placed really carefully. Hanging paintings can be tricky, not just from a styling perspective, but physically too. It can be a good idea to pay a professional picture hanger to come over and do it, if you’re concerned.




No matter what the style of your house, and the type of interior design you prefer, eclectic is always going to look far more sophisticated than all brand new, out of a cardboard box stuff. Mix it up – the old and the new. If you don’t have any old (this is rare), we say go get some! Invest in some vintage or antique pieces. Eclectic styling looks great, and is much more interesting and expressive. 




You don’t want your house to be lit like a hospital. If you’ve got loads of downlights in the ceiling - that’s fine, but you don’t need to show us them all - on full bore! Side lighting using various lamps is much classier. If you like having some overhead lighting then control it; just turn on a few, or use a dimmer. Create an alluring ambience with your lighting. A mix of lamps, pendant lighting and some candles is savvy styling; bold bright lights is not.




We are talking about height again here. In the same way that a play of levels is super cool, if you’re lucky enough to have a house with them – you want some levels with your styling. It’s about scale (again!). So, different heights amongst chairs and furniture and decorative pieces. Variety is the spice of styling!





Remember when our grandmothers used to polish everything with Mr. Sheen? Some of us quite liked the smell, but the days of as many surfaces as possible gleaming are long gone. You don’t want to see everything reflecting and scintillating. Your house is not a solitaire diamond, even if it is your precious jewell. Go for a variety of surfaces; you want different textures, mostly matte – keep gloss to a minimum. 



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