Common living room design mistakes to avoid
Are you committing crimes against design? Let us take you through seven of the most common design errors made in living rooms across the country. And feel free to look at and evaluate your own living room as you go through the list.
Television today is dominated by a seemingly endless stream
of interior design, renovation and home
Thousands of viewers tune in regularly to watch shows like The
Block and Reno Rumble - this growing emphasis and interest in
interior design is a good indication that we are almost obsessed
with how our homes look and how we can improve our existing
If you are a regular viewer of The Block, you would no doubt
have heard the judges' feedback in 'living room week' that condemns
couples for their unknowingly committed crimes against design.
To ensure you are not a co-offender in these design faux pas,
let us run through seven of the most common design errors made in
living rooms across the country. And feel free to look at and
evaluate your own living room as you go through the list.
1. Lack of colour
A monochrome palette can be a safe option - white, black and if
you are feeling adventurous a dash of grey. While safe, it can come
across as sterile, cold and lacking in personality.
However, it's not all lost. A plain white wall interior palette
is the perfect canvas to add pops of colour with additions like
cushions, throws, lamps and hero pieces of furniture.
Like with everything, too much of a good thing can be a bad
thing, so look to abide to the 80/20 rule - 80% neutral, 20% pops
You can find out more information about how to use colour by
three of our top interior designers.
2. Too much matchy-matchy
I mean would you wear head to toe velvet? A velvet vest, handbag
and skirt? I think not. So why apply that same logic to your living
We can understand the ease gained by buying a whole lounge room
set, the problem is, it comes off looking generic and lacking in
personality of infused style.
Take the time to buy furniture that represents your style - get
the proportions, function and colour right so that the look is
cohesive and well pulled together.
3. Not lighting it up right
Lighting is key, it gives a room ambience and enhances mood and
atmosphere and the use of pendant lights, table lamps and floor
lamps, creates a balance of light throughout the room by varying
Ambient lighting in living rooms is all important and a skilled lighting design consultant will
be able to advise you on the latest trends and popular options.
Do not over look task lighting - living rooms are used for
living and that includes reading, so ensure there is ample lighting
via lamps or integrated lighting.
4. Placing all of your furniture against the wall
We Kiwis seem to love pushing our furniture out to the widest
points of the room - maybe we think it makes the room appear
larger? The problem with this logic is that it doesn't always
Placing a couch even a few inches away from the wall will create
a little breathing room and make a space seem larger. If you have
the luxury of ample space and are able to increase that space
behind the couch, thus creating extra walking and standing space
then you get better use of the overall space. By placing furniture
closer in from the walls, you create designated areas and at the
same time increase the intimacy level in your living space.
5. Lack of end tables for functionality
End tables are functional - we need places to rest a drink or a
bowl of food. As a rule of thumb, your end tables should be
approximately 40mm to 50mm below the arm height but there is no set
rule. The main point to remember here is comfort and ease of
6. Hanging art too high
Hanging art too high is a very common mistake, but thankfully
one that is easily rectified - measure to the appropriate height
Art should be looked at, discussed and appreciated so it makes
sense to hang it at eye-level. Granted, eye level can vary, hence
possibly the reason why so many of us get this one wrong. As an
average rule, the centre of the picture should be measured roughly
one and a half meters from the floor.
7. Rug size - either too big or too small
This mistake is one that is commonly pointed out on design shows
and you can understand why. A rug is the glue that gels your
living-room together, it is something of an anchor and as such it
needs to be done right.
The rule of the rug is this: be generous with your rug and scale
it according to the room, using it as a focus point.
When selecting your rug there are two methods of placement to
bear in mind when choosing a rug size:
The contemporary oversized method - where you place all of your
furniture on top of, or partially over the rug - in most cases a
2.5 metres x 3.5 metres size is best.
The traditional method - whereby you place your couch around the
rug and only your coffee table on top.
Did a few too many of these mistakes look or sound familiar to
If you are guilty of many (if not all) of these living room
design mistakes - help and assistance is available.
At New Zealand Interior Designers, we have a
directory of skilled, experienced and often award winning designers
throughout the country who can help coach you through any upcoming
interior design changes or renovations.
Whether it be a single room renovation, full home renovation or
simply choosing a wall colour, our designers can give you their
You can visit our Featured
Designers or Find a Designer
page to find an interior designer in your area.
From their profiles you can read a bit about their work, their
style, testimonial references as well as see examples.