Design Mistakes to Avoid


Modern transitional kitchen by Houston interior design firm Nancy Lane Interiors.
Design: Nancy Lane Interiors | Photo: French Blue Photography

We all know some mistakes in life can be very costly, and the same goes for design mistakes in your own home. Today we're diving into the most common mistakes we see from clients that come to us after a disaster has happened - and hopefully we can catch you before you venture into a new home project! Always start a project with as much information as possible, and you'll save yourself plenty of headaches (and probably a good bit of cash too)!


Scroll through to read through the most common mistakes below!



NOT MEASURING YOUR SPACE OR FURNITURE


Last week, I was working with a Chit Chat Design client who wanted advice in choosing new furniture for her living room. She had found a chair online that she liked from an aesthetic point of view, and asked what my opinion was. I immediately pulled out a measuring tape and asked her what the dimensions were. As soon as she read the numbers for width, depth, and height, I knew what my answer would be.


To drive the point home, I asked her husband to bring in another chair from their living room to compare, and we found out that the chair she found and liked online was almost half the size of their current existing chair that they both loved for it's comfort!


I'm not joking when I tell you that we measure three times throughout a design project - once to work out the initial programming and floor planning and measuring the space again with the dimensions of our selections right before we place orders. We also are careful to measure stairwells, doorways, and any other potential pathway obstacles in our planning strategy session for getting furniture from delivery truck to its final destination.


I guarantee it would only take one time for one thing not fitting through a doorway or buying a sofa that is way too small (or big) for a room to get you to measure, but hopefully I'm catching you before that even happens!


Modern traditional powder room by Houston interior design firm Nancy Lane Interiors.

CROWDSOURCING YOUR PAINT COLOR


I can't tell you how many times I've seen inquiries in our neighborhood's online chat group soliciting paint color advice like "what's the best white paint color for an exterior or trim color?" or "what's a great white to paint my entire house?" Trust me, the house you saw driving home, on Pinterest or in a magazine recently was probably built in 2021 and chances are whatever crowdsourced color is NOT going to look right on your 1983 Tuscan Brown styled home. Honestly, it's going to look like you just primed the walls and you're waiting on the painter to show up to finish the job.


I go into much, much more detail in this post, but in summary I will say it again in big letters:


DO. NOT. CROWDSOURCE. YOUR. PAINT. COLORS!


Studio office space by Houston interior design firm Nancy Lane Interiors.

USING BAD LIGHTING


95% of the time, bad lighting comes down to the type of lightbulbs being used in a space. We recently retrofitted a client's home with this integrated gadget that lets you change the temperature and brightness of the bulb based on your space, and I was so impressed with how much it changed the ambience of her space that I booked my electrician for this Friday to do this in our house. I'm so excited - I haven't been a fan of the all-LED bulb switch we made when incandescent bulbs were on their way out. They don't last like proclaimed and the output is wonky at best. After this Friday, I'll be able to actually see in my house, and I'm over the moon!!


Don't forget - you can change your table and floor lamp lightbulbs as well - 2700-3000 Kelvin would be a good starting point temperature depending on your specific space.


Modern traditional kitchen by Houston interior design firm Nancy Lane Interiors.

BRINGING IN A DESIGNER TOO LATE


I can't tell you how many inquiries we get where potential clients call in a panic saying their contractor is lined up, starting next week and they need design help TODAY...when in reality they needed it six months ago to really get ready for said project. Bottom line: don't do it to yourself or your home project, don't wait. Plan accordingly. Start here with first steps, and then read this post about finding a contractor you trust, in that order!


Modern transitional living room by Houston interior design firm Nancy Lane Interiors.

GETTING SCALE WRONG


Scale and proportion are close relatives to measuring a space or furniture before purchasing.

If you're working with a large room, you can do bigger furniture pieces, and if it's a small room, you'll be better off looking for small more apartment sized pieces.


Remember to leave room to walk around floating furniture (30"- 36" is a good base of reference), and pay attention to heights just as much as lengths and widths. A high seat sofa won't work with a low 14" coffee table, or a tall side table next to a low arm sectional. Not only will it look funny, ergonomically you won't be happy or comfortable.


The big rule here is knowing that once you make one choice for a room, that choice can and will affect a hundred other decisions moving forward. Remember I call those "domino decisions" after all. Measure twice or three times, and compare pieces to each other to know the scale and proportion make sense.


Have you made any of these mistakes before? No judgement I promise. Let us know in the comments, now that hopefully we can have a good laugh about it!

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