Interior Design Mistakes – advice from a professional

by | Aug 4, 2023 | Inspiration, Interior Design | 0 comments

Rose Bay Project - Marylou Sobel Interior Designer Sydney

Instinctively, the interior designer in me is shouting that the number one reason people make any sort of interior design mistake is that they don’t use an interior designer from the start! BUT, my personal opinions aside, there are quite of few common interior design mistakes that people (and some designers) tend to make, so I thought I would make a fun list of the different mistakes to avoid or look out for in your home. 

Chair in Bedroom by Window

Shopping Mistakes 

Let’s start where a lot of problems begin, the love of shopping. Shopping often creates its own plethora of interior design mistakes. You may decide to buy something that you have fallen in love with, without anywhere for it to go. “I’ll find a place for it”, whether it be a bench, a beautiful chair, or a side table, it finally gets delivered to your door and not only do you not know where to put it, but it doesn’t suit the home or the decor. 

Procuring for interior design is very different to shopping. It’s not random, it’s not impulsive, it’s carefully planned and executed. It’s intentional. If you’re working with an interior designer then it is best not to shop at all, leave it to the interior designer, that’s why you have! But if you are shopping for your own home, make sure you have a plan in place before you venture out alone. 

And NEVER go shopping without being aware of measurements. Something simple like making sure something fits appropriately in a space before you buy it is a mistake people make more often than not. For some, it’s not even if it fits in the room (it does), but they forget to check  for access, making it possible for the furniture to be moved into the home. Is the front door big enough? Will it fit into the elevator of the building? 


Leading on from the size of things, another interior design mistake that I come across is incorrect proportions within a space. People often think that if a space is small, they need to have furniture and fixtures that are also small. But actually, the opposite is true; you need to go BIGGER in a small space. 

A great examples of this would be using bigger tiles on the floor can give the perception of a larger space, but really I am referring to the size of the furniture within the space. Trust me that small everything does not look good, you are always better off with bigger. 

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Marylou Sobel Sydney Interior Designer on site


When you are deciding on the proportions, you have to carefully consider the ‘space’ of a room, how it flows. A mistake I see quite often is that proportions or sizes have not been planned effectively, leaving the spaces between furniture and fittings too small, with not enough natural flow around the furniture in the space.

When designing a space it is as much about functionality as it is aesthetics. Having a beautiful island as the centre point of your kitchen won’t feel as good if you haven’t left enough space between it and the counter to move around with ease and open cupboards, and the dishwasher!

Consider the ‘Insignificant’(which is actually so significant)

One very easy interior design mistake is that there was little or no consideration given to the General Power Outlets (GPOs), light switches or intercoms. Sometimes people don’t know where to put them, or how many, so they don’t, and then when they move in then there may be a sudden realisation of where the television could go, or that they have no power for a lamp at their bedside or on the hallway table. 

When designing, these ‘insignificant’ elements make more difference than you may think. The same applies to light switches and intercoms, they are often found in the most peculiar of places. Intercoms for electric gates or front doors can be very ugly, and can be cleverly hidden by joinery, not all has to be in view and distort the overall design finish. Lightswitch placement needs careful consideration when deciding where they should be in a space, near a doorway is preferable to in the middle of a wall with consideration to what else may go on the wall.

Dressing a Room

Two common elements to design that I consider mistakes – curtains that don’t touch the floor and rugs that are too small for the space. Personally, I prefer that curtains puddle on the floor, anything from 1cm to 8cm. If a client would prefer for them not to have a puddle, then at the very least they would sit comfortably on the floor.  

In order for curtains to look wonderful, they should have a certain fullness, a considered heading for the style of curtain and space, and if possible cover a healthy amount of wall on either side giving a sense of proportion/height.  If there is not enough fullness in a curtain, they look like they ‘just fit’ the space, they can look very underwhelming, almost as if they haven’t been gifted enough consideration or value. 

Similarly with rugs for the floor. I personally prefer that all of the furniture in the room sits on the rug at some point, a small rug that sits between furniture in a space can look somewhat like a postage stamp. 

Chair in Bedroom by Window

The Focal Point of a Room

Every room needs a ‘hero’ of the space, a talking point, something that stands out as special and unique. Without it, a room can feel dull or like it is missing something. When designing, we always ensure that the room or space has a focal point, otherwise the rest of the design, however carefully considered, will fail to create that wow factor. 

Marylou Sobel Sydney Interior Designer at showroom

Lighting Mistakes

There are mistakes here too – not having enough lighting, having too much lighting and not having the correct lighting. In a space like a kitchen, you need task lighting, or in a bathroom you may want to consider lighting for applying makeup or shaving. The space should have the correct lighting appropriate for practical use, as well as complimentary ambient lighting. 

This all needs to be considered carefully within a design. If you have a concrete ceiling, you are often restricted, for example, you wouldn’t be able to have downlights. Space needs to be created between the concrete and the ceiling, lighting elements should be considered before, not after. 

And finally

While I am not actively looking for interior design mistakes, more envisaging how a space could evolve to be, there is one that certainly stands out every time, and that is hanging art at the incorrect height. Most of the time when I see art displayed incorrectly, it is because it has been hung too high and it does a disservice not only to the art itself, but to the overall finish of the space. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s blog about interior design mistakes. If you would like to avoid the common mistakes above and are interested in working with Marylou Sobel, please contact our studio. 

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