Three Common Design Mistakes and our Workable Fix

Like any creative discipline, interior design is about experimentation and discovery - an artistic process through which ideas are explored but also rejected; a process that is developed through time and finesse. For every good idea there are many more that fall to the proverbial ‘cutting room floor’ and even the most accomplished among us are faced with moments of failure as a vision doesn’t come together or things (gasp!) just don’t work. 

Rather than fear this, we’ve learnt to embrace the instruction of failure, looking at 3 common mistakes and how to quickly pivot, when a design concept falls flat. 

1. An imbalance of elements

Be it an interior that takes form over time or a new build in which all the components  are introduced at once, interiors are a concert of the collective; of the harmony struck between elements of design. When these are out of balance, the emotional and physical experience of a space is thrown off kilter and becomes a force of disconnect that dampens rather than amplifies its intended effect. Athena Calderone, one of the most influential interior designers of our times, has written about this. In her Cobble Hill Townhouse the wrong living room light, bathroom mirror colour and all white living area (see below) were all quickly corrected. Specifically, these occurred due to an imbalance of elements and small responsive adjustments created an adaptive, easy fix. An overwhelm of white, for example, can lack dimension in the wrong setting just as a dark interior can feel too heavy - requiring contrast, texture and warmth to give it some structure and levity. 

If your project has an imbalance of elements, stand back and assess. What elements are missing and what are the small remedial adjustments? 

Before: The all-white family room of Athena Calderon. Via @eyeswoon

After: Balance restored with an intimate, enclosed  space created from using a darker paint finish, pops of warmth and lighter accents. Via @eyeswoon. 

Left: A bathroom rendered in emerald green  achieves balance through the texture and relief of its lighting. Via @flackstudio Right. A Rachel Donath interior finds harmony through the inclusive of feminine forms juxtaposed against a moody, masculine palette. 

2. Vacant negative space

While we’d never advise clutter, underused negative space can lack inspiration or worse, feel like an afterthought. Hallways, understairs, landings and entryways are some of the most common of these areas where we believe the thoughtful addition of furniture or art welcomes both curiosity and interest. 

For us, it’s all about superlative or stand-alone pieces that become architecturally engaging as they enlive small spaces that would otherwise stand vacant. 

Left: A point of intersection creates a moment of beauty via @hannaoganesyan. Right: Intrigue in detail as a layer on the white canvas of an empty hallway, interior designer Megan Morton creates magic. 

Left: A corner made superlative via @mandpartners. RIght: An understair area becomes a fun and much -loved area via @reallivingmag

3. A shop-now interior

Being inspired by other people’s interiors is energising. Not only does it bring a new sense of discovery but as we seek to emulate or introduce elements of what other people have done in their own homes, it should also come with a warning. A close copy or wholly shoppable interior lacks the dimension of personal style and story that can only be developed over time, with pieces gathered slowly or acquired with certain meaning.

The fix? Choose furniture that is timeless and carefully considered but layer with antiques, original art, coup de coeur pieces or soft furnishing. If everything in your home can be replicated or bought now, consider something unique or perhaps even engaging the help of a professional to craft a more personalised, dimensional interior. 

Unique pieces always elevate and individualise a space: Left: via @pheobenicolinteriors. Right: A Curtis Jere light and Joe Colombo ‘Elba’ chair add modern, unexpected delight to the intimacy and individuality of a personal library. Via The Design Files


From the Inventory 

The Phoenix Stacked Marble Hall Table, SHOP NOW

Italian Palladio Gilt Mirror, SHOP NOW 


Rachel Donath is a purveyor of designer and antique furniture, Australia.

Discover The Inventory here.