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Common living room design mistakes to avoid

Wednesday 02 September 2015  |  Posted by: Rod Hanna

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 building shows.

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 theme.

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.

modern wall art

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 of colour.

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 room.

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.

modern furniture

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 the levels.

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.

modern lounge lighting

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 work.

furniture in lounge

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 use.

end tables in lounge

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 and re-hang.

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.

hanging art

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.

modern rugs

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 you?

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 expert advice.

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.

Featured Designers

Bridget Foley Design

Bridget Foley, Wellington