I recently attended a stage show with a friend of mine who's a professional critic. I thought it was great, but she didn't like the show, so I asked her, 'What are you going to write?'
She said, 'I can't say anything negative, because the industry is so small that we'll never be invited to critique a show again.'
How often does this happen in our homes, too? We copy trends from magazines and Pinterest without critiquing whether it's good or not? Everyone is too scared to call out something that just doesn't work anymore (maybe it never did) and so the mistakes get repeated. So instead of smiling politely and nodding along, I'm going to tell you what not to do so you don't make these mistakes, too:
Just a Pop of Colour
If I hear one more person say, 'a pop of colour', I will scream.
That's not how it works.
You can't make your entire home 10 different shades of grey, then rely on a few red cushions to pull you over the line. It's too late. Your office-looking home is wrecked. Not even your cushions wanna be there.
Black kitchens have been all the rage for about 2 years now. Please stop. It's just a fad. In a few years time, everyone will be wondering, 'what were they thinking?' You can easily see all the grease stains on them and it's difficult to see what you're working on because your surroundings are too dark.
Also avoid all white kitchens - equally impossible to conceal dirt and muck, plus the surfaces are more susceptible to permanent stains.
It's almost become an industry standard to make the ceilings Dulux Vivid White. Do you know why? Because it's the colour that most conceals shoddy plastering. If you're confident your plasterer did a good job, then there's nothing wrong with extending your feature wall colour up the ceiling. The finish will be neater and the mood of the space will be continuous.
An aunt of mine loved baby pink. She thought it was soothing and, even though it was appropriate in a couple of the rooms in the house, I thought it was odd when this colour made its way onto the ceiling of the black marbled bathroom. I love exploring with different colours throughout the home. It's an excellent way to characterise each space - the library can be a muddy grey-brown, the kitchen can be a mustard, the dining room, a pale teal and the bedrooms can be a warm cream - or anything you like... the colour in the room motivates and inspires you for the different activity you're about to do there, so have a think about what mood you'd like to be in when you're there and pick a colour that emulates that mood.
Built-in fridges are the next big thing in kitchens. But this also means they stay put if you decide to move or sell up. When choosing your built-in fridge, make sure it's a brand that is good enough to last long (with a warranty to match) as well as size-appropriate for the home. Family homes might need a double door fridge, etc. consider the direction the door opens too - so that the open side is facing toward the kitchen. Also, note that you probably won't be able to get a water function, but may still need it to be plumbed in if there is an ice-cube function.
These convenient little fellas are on their way out - we're all now doing steam ovens because, while they take a tad longer to do the same job, they don't kill the nutrients or risk giving you cancer. You'll need to find another machine to make your pop-corn.
Built-in coffee machines
Anyone I know who's had enough money to install one of these has thrown their hands in the air in frustration the moment their swanky, 4-times-the-price coffee machine was superceded by the next fun machine. It's just not worth it. Don't do it!
We all need pantries, I'm not suggesting we do away with them, but don't choose to have a 600 millimetre-deep cupboard full of shelves for all your herbs and spices. Everything that gets put on the back of that shelf will never see the light of day again. Instead, have a pull-out pantry, a series of drawers, or a narrow cupboard (300-400 millimetres deep). In saying that, it's always a great idea to pop a light in there, and also to make room for the unsightly microwave (you don't want your friends to know you're giving them cancer). Now, Butler's pantries... do you live in the country where it takes 2 hours to get to the nearest grocery store? Are you worried WW3 will break out and we'll have no food for 6 months? If the answer to those is 'no', then you do not need a butler's pantry... unless you have a butler and need somewhere for him to sleep.
### Corner cupboards
The all-too-well-known corner cupboards - I still remember my Mum on her knees, digging out a pot from the corner cupboard. Poor thing. Well, now Mum's taken care of with her fancy lazy susan-style carousel in the corner. She does complain that there isn't a built-in light though, so maybe pop one of them in too.
I think carpenters are responsible for these gap fillers. Guys, if you are pretending to be a wine connoisseur, then you should know, wine doesn't like heat. DAAAR. So guess where the worst place to put a wine rack is... um, above the refrigerator where all the heat from the fridge motor goes to. Just stop. Get a wine fridge, or just be a rich person and get a wine cellar.
The tacky name says it all.
This is indeed one of my favourite products. The team at Maximum are great to work with, they have an exceptional range of patterns which, of course, look brilliant. I don't even need to try selling the stuff... but wait. This is a porcelain tile - a giant one yes, but a porcelain tile after all. Do not use this as a bench top. It'll crack. It was never intended for that. This is a tile. Put it on your walls or floors. That's it. There are loads of other similiar products suited to benchtops - Dekton, for one. or, better still, why don't you go with timber? It'll be warmer to the touch and much more hard wearing. You'll never have to get a guy out to fix a crack, that's for sure.
If you have sliding doors on your wardrobe (which are sometimes acceptable, but rarely) DO NOT put the drawer stack in the middle. You'll need to open the wardrobe all the way just to grab a pair of socks. You'll realise I'm commenting from experience; unfortunately, I didn't have the luxury of designing this one.
Nothing wrong with carpet, but just pick the right one. While there have been dramatic improvements to them, synthetic carpets are a nightmare for the growing population of asthma sufferers. In fact, these are so bad that if you were 'doin' the house up' to sell, the synthetic carpet could be your downfall. Also, drop a match on the floor and there'll be a melted plastic patch there forever. Wool is the best and not that much dearer, especially since we live in a country that produces so much of it. Also, if you have a cat, steer clear of woven carpets and go toward cut pile. Cats' claws will pull the weave out of the carpet. Be careful of specifying carpets to high traffic areas (especially if you're ignoring me and sticking to a synthetic carpet) because you will see wear marks quite quickly.
Please, please, please think about what window furnishings you want. These need to be cleverly integrated into the design at an early stage and cannot be treated like furniture, where your selection is influenced by what's on sale at the end of the project.
How neat, you've decided to ignore what your Nan told you and take the leap into having a Euro laundry. Awesome. Just put a slot in for the vacuum and the ironing board... seems obvious, right?
Why do you need so much room to sleep? I did a survey a couple of years ago about what room size people thought to be acceptable. I was astonished to learn that most people thought 4 x 5 metres was acceptable. Why? Did you want to have a kitchen in your bedroom too? So you can never come out again?
These look great (not really even that great) in display homes. But that's because people don't live in display homes (P.S. stop getting your great ideas from display homes - look at real estate, at photos of homes that are lived in). There's never enough room for bedside tables to fit without them being in the traffic path... unless your room is 5.5 - 6 metres wide...
I could go on forever, but I'll wrap it up with my favourite topic:
Everyone spends their time looking at how the toilet looks from the outside. But you don't see the loo when you're perched on it. Next time you're at the toilet shop, take a seat (don't do anything), but figure out if it's comfy. Look in the bowl - is the water pond big enough or is it one of those loos where everything lands on the tray, then you have to either scrub or pray the poo away (praying doesn't work).
Ok folks, I hope I've helped guide you into making the not wrong decisions!