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Part 1: Mack's Top "Design Pet Peeves"

I admit it. I can be finicky. I think every designer should be though. Paying attention to details is key in creating the difference between a space that feels like it is "designed" versus a space that just feels like it's well "decorated."

While I'm sure there are more pet peeves that I have left off this list, these are some that I come across more often than not. Watch out for these design danger zones and you will definitely end up with an end product that will be beautiful and function better. There is nothing worse than standing in a beautiful space, but something is just "off" and you can't put your finger on it. Next time you feel that, look for one of these tale-tell design no no's...

Pet Peeve #10: Word art wall decals.

There is a time and a place for this, but I have to admit it is very hard to pull off and very rare. Generally, unless you are a commercial space, and have your logo on the wall, it ain't the time or the space in my opinion.

Decals can look cheap and they look dated. Yes there are cute words that can summarize you, your personality, or even your family's core values, but why be so obvious about it? Why not embed those vibes throughout the space rather than bludgeon someone over the head with it by slapping it on your wall? Why not live those core values so people can feel it rather than tell them?

And while I don't want to go on a rant, so I'll spare you, but the fonts of these decals tend to be typical fonts that you can find on any Microsoft Word drop down menu. They aren't creative, they aren't original and there isn't soul to it. Please, please, please just say no to chiche decals! Don't do it in a living room, don't do it in a bedroom, don't do it in a nursery! Just no!

Decal dud

How do you fix this mistake?

If you must do a word, stick to 3-D letters that ideally have some texture. Also limit your word to a name or, if located in an Airbnb, a location like the name of the city. Avoid verbs at all costs. No "Eat" and no "play" those are just played out (like what I did with the pun there?!?). Just get in and get out by keeping it simple if you must go down the word route.

Photo Credit @ Homedit

Pet Peeve #9: "Wall-itis"

What is "wall-itis" you ask? Many people suffer from it because they feel their space is to small so if they just put every piece of furniture against the wall, the space will feel bigger. No. No. No. This is actually a common misconception. The room will feel bland, and smaller.

The classic example of this is a home office. Most of the time you see the desk, facing a wall, with shelves surrounding it and perhaps a calendar above it or a cork board with messages posted to it. What is the easiest way to glam up the office and make it feel more professional? Move the desk to the center of the room and add a chair on either side so you can meet with a client. "Wall-itis" is a disease that needs to be cured.

A bad case of Wall-itis and clutter in this home office

How do you fix this mistake?

Even in small spaces it is important to create zones where you live. That requires that you have little vignettes here and there. Perhaps there is a "seating zone" or an "office zone" or a "play zone." You need furniture in the middle of the room to create flow in terms of walking. If there is only one way to walk into a room or out of a room it the energy in the room becomes flat and very one demential.

Photo Credit @ Essential Home

Pet Peeve #8: Matching all wood tones in a given space.

Let me preface with the fact that I love wood. I like rustic wood. I like glammed up wood. I like it all and I am a HUGE fan of quality wood furniture pieces that are solid and well built. It's true what they say, they don't make them like they used to anymore. So I am all about saving wood pieces from the landfill and finding a way to make them work in a room. What I am not a fan of is ensuring that you match all your furniture in one room, especially wood tones, so they are the same style. You know exactly what I'm talking about. Think any catalogue photo from Sears home furnishings circa 1990. While the pieces come as a set, probably for easy one-stop-shopping, the end result ends up being dull and looks like any showroom in America. It's not a cute look at all.

Photo Credit @ Raymor Flannagan

How do I fix this mistake?

Mix and match pieces of various wood tones, finishes, and textures. You have to shake it up. Architectural Digest came in strong to provide an example. Look at this picture there is painted wood, dark wood, light wood and a mid tone wood as well. All of the pieces have different shapes and lines. Put together it just creates interest for the eye.

Photo Credit @ Architectural Digest

Pet Peeve #7: Too many focal points in a room.

Each room needs a statement piece yes, especially in this "instagrammable" era. But two, three or even four is just too much. Details are nice, but when it comes to focal points there should only be one. It's like the main idea in a paragraph. You should be able to pick it out quickly because your eye is drawn to it and every other sentence connects and supports back to it.

I intentionally chose a beautiful example, that just needs a few tweaks to demonstrate this point. In this room below your eye is drawn to the shelves, the blue couch, the statement lighting and the gold mirror. They are all beautiful, but together they are too much. There is a weird balance of very heavy with the couch and the selves, and then an odd mix of styles between the lighting and the mirror. My suggestion? Reduce the competition between the couch and the shelves by lightening one of them. Either make the shelves a lighter shade of gray or the couch a lighter shade of blue. Whichever one you decide to keep dark will become the prominent feature of the room.

Photo Credit @Serindipty

How do I fix this mistake?

Tone down one feature so it becomes a "secondary focus" but isn't at the same level as your first focus. Don't make it so bland that it just blends in, because then you lose the depth of the room, just tone it down a slight bit.

Pet Peeve #6: Over organized

Now I love structure. I do. So sue me? I love organization and I love when things have a place and you know exactly where to put it back when you are done with it. Blame that on me being raised by a military father. Plus, let's be honest, I personally need that sort of a system in the spaces I inhabit so that I can function with everything else that I have going on in my life. With that being said though, I do believe there is a difference between every item has a home in a given space, versus, every item needs to be placed back where it belongs in this very specific manner and way and it has to be the exact same every time. In other words I like organized spaces, but I'm not overly intense about organization.

Here's what I mean. Again, I chose a beautiful space that just needs a few tweaks to make it spectacular to illustrate my point:

Photo Credit @hack the

This is organization gone too far. Because everything is folded perfectly, because belongings are all have their exact cubby or box, because the bed has to be made a very specific way, the space ends up feeling colder. It reads more like an ikea than your home.

How do you fix this?

Shake up the lines and throw in some asymmetric shapes! Perhaps you drape a throw blanket in a diagonal across the bottom of the bed. Perhaps you introduce a graphic or piece of art that has curves. Perhaps you add a round side table to one side of the bed with a plant. Do something to break up all these 90 degree angles and straight lines and that will come with having some items "place" not actually be tucked away into a cubby.

While I only got through 5 of my top 10 pet peeves (Don't worry, there will be more to come soon...) I hope this at least gives you a little something to mull over as you get creative in developing your own designs. Good luck! :)

And as always, feel free to tell me about your own design pet peeves!

Forever Grateful,


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