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Part 2: Mack's Top Design "Pet Peeves"

You didn't get enough in my previous post and you are back for more? No worries, I got you! (Probably because I can go on and on about design pet peeves for days, but I'll limit this to spare you.)

Interior design is a lot harder than people think. It's more than just having "good taste" -- although that is helpful, very helpful -- and not to be underestimated. It's about function, form, and creating a space that matches the person's personality and lifestyle. It also is about color pairing, texture, scale, themes, layout, and so much more.

If you are a novice, don't get too into the weeds with all this. Just try your best to steer clear of these other basic mistakes. And chances are you will be fine. Minor tweaks can always be made, and if you have made one of these mistakes, I have some quick fixes to help you course correct.

Pet Peeve #5: Clutter and too much furniture in a space

Please channel your inner Marie Kondo. Sometimes a purge is necessary, very necessary. And even after you purge, do it again! Her favorite line is to hold an item an see if it "sparks joy" within you, meaning: do you love that item? If not, pass it on. I think the key here is not to replace it with another item, unless it's an absolute necessity or you find something else that really and truly does spark joy. Like a lot of things in life, in design, less is usually more.

Now I do realize that "maximalism" is back in style somewhat. What should be made clear though is that there is a clear difference between a maximalist style versus clutter or the overcrowding of a space. Maximalism is curated. The pieces have a common theme and support each other in a space. Here is an example of maximalism done right. Note the common colors, the collection of similar items. It is intentional. It didn't just wind up there because each item didn't have a home base. It was designed that way from the beginning and rooted in Marie Kondo's "Spark Joy" approach.

How do you fix this?

Purge, purge, purge. Pare down unwanted stuff that is just holding an unnecessary space in your life and in your space. If you tend to like the "maximalist" approach, then shift to collecting items that truly fill you with joy in a given theme. Think "curation" rather than just holding stuff because you are afraid you might need it one day.

Pet Peeve #4: Out of scale lighting

There is nothing more tragic than this in my book. Lighting can easily make or break a room. And what I love about it, good light fixtures aren't that expensive. They can really elevate a space for very little in your budget, assuming the wiring is already in place. The key here is scale. Scale is how big the light fixture is in proportion to the space it occupies.

How do I fix this?

Here's my secret little tip that I'm going to share with you:

Take the length of the room and the width of room and add those two numbers together. This will give you the number you need in inches in terms of diameter for your light fixture.

Anything smaller than this number will look odd. Sometimes you can go slightly larger, and you may be able to get away with it. But that is really the general range you want to stay within.

Pet Peeve #3: When the space doesn't meet the needs of those that live there.

Dude, this happens all the time. The worst part is, someone usually doesn't discover it until they are actually living in the space! FINISH THIS ONE OFF

Pet Peeve #2: Ceilings are an after thought.

We all grew up with white, popcorn ceilings, right? Okay, well maybe not everyone... but many, many people did. And boy, oh boy, are we all excited to scrape that off in our fixer uppers, because, frankly, it's just not doing it for us anymore.

What most people don't realize is that the ceiling is just as important as the floor. It makes up the most visual space in a room -- even more visual space than the gorgeous floors you will lay. A ceiling can elevate the space when done right. If not, it just becomes blah. Why not take that much area and turn it into a "moment" that will enhance the rest of the look of the room?

How do I fix this?

Definitely scrape off popcorn texture if you have it. No seriously, stop reading now and go do it immediately. You will thank me later.

But feel free to take it a step further. Maybe you paint the ceiling a pop of color? Darker colors tend to visually raise the feeling of a roof, especially in a low space.

Maybe you add wallpaper to your ceiling. "Whatttt Mack?!?! Are you insane?!?" You say... Yes. Wallpaper. A big, bold print that sets the color palette for the room can look incredible on the ceiling next to solid painted walls. It can be a stunning moment.

Or maybe you add in architectural interest with beams? Steel beams if you have an industrial vibe, rustic beams if your going for cozy? Or if you have ductwork, maybe you cover it with faux wood beams?

Maybe in your kitchen you add in tin tiles or faux tin tiles?

The bottom line is: there are a ton of options, and don't overlook the opportunity to make a statement or provide a nice focal moment in your space.

Pet Peeve #1: BAD TILE JOBS!

I love tile so much that it absolutely breaks my heart when it is installed poorly. The most common mistakes I see have to do with the spacing and the grouting. You need someone who is skilled at this, consistent in how they lay them, and who uses spacers. It absolutely crushes my soul when they don't and it affects how the final product appears. For example, sometimes when novices lay penny tile, you can still see the square sheets they came in because they just laid them and didn't measure them out.

How can you fix this?

First hire a tile professional who is meticulous and a perfectionist. Yes, they cost more, yes, they take more time, but you will get the most out of your product. Tiles are expensive. Give them the best chance at shining by having someone install them who knows what they are doing and won't rush the job.

The second thing is, have them go in with a plan. I prefer someone who starts in the middle and works their way out so it looks even. If you start on one side, depending upon the width, it doesn't always work out visually.

Use spacers, always. Please, please, please. That is the only way to get a consistent placement. And know the wider you go with your grouting, the more obvious mistakes will be. Sometimes you need a wide grout, but if you can avoid it, thinner grout lines are more forgiving.

I hope this helps a little bit as you think through your next design project! And if I left any of your pet peeves out, add them to the comments! I'm sure there are a ton more out there.

Forever grateful,


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Feb 27, 2023

Been waiting for the next one to drop!!

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