The 5 Worst Interior Design Mistakes, According To An Expert

Interior designer Thomas Hamel on where it goes wrong in so many homes.

By Thomas Hamel 06/04/2022

Specialising in residential design, Thomas Hamel and his eponymous design firm, Thomas Hamel & Associates, has built a heady reputation for blending elements of design to create timeless interiors for modern living.

We recently asked Hamel, what are the biggest design mistakes that you want to avoid when decorating or updating interiors.

Here – 5 mistakes to avoid and rules to live by:

1. Don’t ignore the interior architecture

Some houses or rooms have what we call “good bones”. Others, however, do not, and that is when it is important, rather than diving straight in to the fabrics and furnishings, for the interior architecture to be considered as a priority, to give a room a better sense of presence. Heights of door frames can be “tweaked” through window treatments and mouldings/panelling to add scale and “wow” factor to a room. Rooms can be opened up to adjoining rooms or to an outdoor area, doorways enlarged for greater flow, and mouldings and panelling incorporated to give a room more presence. These fairly easy design touches can give a room “good bones” and often without a huge cost outlay. It is a good idea to have your interior designer work in tandem with the architect, as well as the landscape designer in advance of embarking on the more decorative aspect of the project.

2. Never overlook the importance of area rugs 

At Thomas Hamel & Associates, we prioritise a room’s rugs before moving on to select the fabrics, lighting or decorative pieces. A rug truly anchors a room and informs the overall feel and aesthetic. This important starting point leads to our choices of fabrics, furnishings, and paint colours. The rug is the first port of call. It is essential to choose the correct rug sizing, as this is closely linked to the proportions of the furniture pieces and light fixtures. We often custom design rugs for our clients, with the help of specialist rug dealers like Behruz in Melbourne.

3. Don’t Match Everything

It is important to avoid the ‘everything has to match’ syndrome. No great room ever felt or looked ‘cookie cutter’! We prefer to combine a variety of different styles. Clients may live in a contemporary house, but if they fall in love with an antique piece of furniture or traditional work of art, we say “go for it”. Integrating a range of periods and styles tells the story of who lives there and adds personality to a house. No one wants to live in a design showroom, and nor should they.

4. Not considering your location 

The best homes/rooms have a true “ sense of place”, so consider your location before embarking on a design scheme. While Tuscan houses look great in the Italian countryside, they are not so appropriate in Queensland. Likewise, it’s best to leave the “ Hamptons style” in Long Island, rather than trying to recreate it in urban Melbourne, A home should be true to its setting. In Australia, that may mean making the most of our warm climate by incorporating opportunities for indoor/outdoor living. Or in Sydney, playing to the view if you are lucky enough to live on the harbour. In Melbourne, it may be a garden that forms the focus of a room’s outlook.

5. Always allow space for art and objects

Memorable rooms are often filled with an owner’s favourite objects, collected over time from travels, a gallery visit, or perhaps passed down through families over generations. Avoid the notion and temptation that everything for your interior should be bought at once, or feel that the house is “done” when the interior design scheme is completed. Collecting is fun and the stories that objects and art tell about the owner are what makes a house truly special.

thomashamel.com

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