We’ve been in the decorating business for over thirty five years and we’ve seen a lot of beautiful rooms that positively *sing* and equally, a lot of rooms that are a little bit “off”. We made our own share of errors in the early years too! We understand - it’s frustrating to pour so much time, heart, and money into a room only for a mistake to stick out like a sore thumb.

We want to pass on some of the wisdom and tips we’ve learned and applied over the years to help you avoid some of these mistakes when decorating! This is by no means exhaustive but we trust you find them helpful!

Installation Day

1. A rug that’s too small

A beautiful living room or lounge can be quickly let down by a rug that’s too small - you may have seen it: a little island rug floating sadly in the middle of the floor. Rugs need to be big. Ideally they should sit comfortably under the front feet of all of the sofas and chairs in the room. Yes, rugs are expensive and we recommend buying the best quality you can afford. They’re an investment piece that will serve you for years to come.

2. Low Quality Paint

We’ve been using designer paint for years and yes, it is expensive but it's expensive for a reason. Higher-end paint is higher quality and this can be seen in the ease of application, depth of colour achieved using natural pigments, and the quality of finish. Also...don’t choose your paint colour first! Choose it after you’ve picked the big-ticket items like flooring, sofas, furniture, wallpaper, and soft furnishings. With the range of paint colours available today, it’s easy to find a colour to work with the other elements of your room.

3. Hanging Curtains too low

Hanging a curtain pole directly above your window recess will make your windows, and therefore your room feel more closed in. That’s not what we want - especially in Northern Ireland and the UK, our lighting can be cold and dull and we want to maximise our light! Natural light is critical for our physical and mental wellbeing and it is just simply so beautiful in our homes.

Hang your curtain pole at least 5 - 6 inches above the recess of your window, but depending on your room and windows, you may be able to go even higher. This is make your windows feel much more open, will let more light in, and longer curtains will make your room feel taller!

A final point is to make sure your curtains are long enough. Curtains that are too short are distracting. Curtains should at least graze the floor, but even a little bit of puddling is good!

4. Hanging Artwork too high

Yes, too often we’re hanging our curtains too low and our artwork too high! We often see artwork hung closer to the ceiling than it should be. The ideal height is around eye-level and it’s better to hang slightly lower than it is to hang too high! No need to get the measuring tape out - just eyeball it and hang where it feels natural.

5. The wrong lighting

Whether that’s too little lighting for the space, or whether the lighting is too harsh, lighting is critical to the comfort and functionality of a space. Don’t hang your central pendant too high - you want to light up the room, not just the ceiling! Ensure your lighting is on a dimmer setting so you can adjust the brightness according to your needs and the mood. Use a ceiling light, but also utilise floor lamps, table lamps, wall lights and lighting for tasks such as reading and studying for beautiful layers of lighting. Try to avoid bulbs that are too harsh and too cool, opting for a warmer bulb; and if you can see the bulb it should be beautiful!

6. Prioritising style over comfort

This is especially important when it comes to upholstered furniture - your sofas, chairs and footstools. There are a lot of beautiful pieces out there - and especially in this day and age when we shop so much online....it’s easily to get swept up in a beautiful sofa you spotted online. Comfort is king and we find that there’s lots of sofas and chairs that look great but aren’t that comfortable to sit on for any length of time. Sofas and chairs are a big investment - or we believe they should be - because they will serve you for years to come and they should be outrageously comfortable. They should be properly supportive and should allow for lounging, snoozing and a few hours of fireside reading. Otherwise what’s the point! It’s absolutely important that you try before you buy, and that what you buy is comfortable.

7. Buying furniture without measuring

You know the situation - homeowners spot a beautiful sofa in a showroom and fall in love with it. They purchase said sofa and 8-10 weeks later when it arrives at their house, they find it totally dominates the whole room. It can be hard to judge the scale of a sofa that’s sitting in an expansive showroom so it’s important to always take a measuring tape and record measurements of sofas you like before measuring them out in your home. This will help avoid a costly mistake!

8. Playing it safe

We get it, it’s hard to decorate a room and you don’t want the regret of a costly mistake disrupting your enjoyment of the space. It’s easy to play safe but this runs the risk of your room being a bit bland and lacking in *something*.

We firmly believe every room should have a element of the unexpected! We don’t suggest everyone go out and paint their walls a fiercely bright colour, but there are ways to bring in a little surprise. Try a bold wallpaper in a small WC, throw in an unexpected scatter cushion or two into your lounge, paint the ceiling in a tone other than white, try a statement tile, hang a large piece of artwork or paint out something as large as a sideboard or as small as a decorative vase, in a bold colour. These unexpected pops will make all the difference to your space!
As we said, we know it can be hard to bring the 'look' you want together - but we're here to help you every step of the way. At McMillan Interiors, we offer a service that includes design, supply and manufacture, and fit-out. We’d love to listen to your ideas, offer professional advice and make your home fit your needs and aesthetic.

Call: 028 2588 0012
Email: catherine@mcmillaninteriors.co.uk

McMillan Interiors, NI
Bespoke Interior Design, Northern Ireland


February 12, 2024 — Catherine McMillan

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