By now, we all know what red flags interior designers instantly see upon stepping foot into a new space — Is the rug the wrong size? Is the art hung too high? Are there too many accessories? (Like that’s even possible…) But what really separates the mediocre homes from the designer-approved ones? We polled our interior designers to help put this debate to rest. Because let’s be honest, anyone can ask Siri how high draperies should be hung, but not everyone can pull off a truly cohesive look from floor to ceiling.
How many of the below design features are currently MIA from your home? Read on to find out!
1. Proper Light
No matter how strong your selfie game is, it will almost always turn out less than Instagram-worthy when the lighting’s bad. Well, the same can be said about your decor. According to Laurel & Wolf Interior Designer Martha Hatfield, a space isn’t complete without “Plenty of light, both natural and man-made. If a space lacks sufficient lighting, it will feel cramped.” Sharon Leigh Copeland adds, “A really good space plan and lighting…If those two things aren’t right, nothing is.”
2. Clever Storage Solutions
Poorly designed homes aren’t the only ones with skeletons in their closets. Just ask the designers! And while there are so many multipurpose pieces of furniture out there, finding something that’s both fashionable AND functional isn’t always easy.
That’s where the experts come in. Céile Callahan believes that the key to designer-approved digs lies in its creative use of storage space. “There are so many interesting storage solutions out there now, I recently sourced a chaise with a seat that lifted up for storage underneath. Having hidden places to store clutter or toys or whatever makes it easy to keep any space looking brand new.”
3. A Custom Experience
“Well designed homes cater to the needs of the people that inhabit them. What works for a growing family living in Massachusetts is going to be vastly different from a couple buying their starter home in California. Hobbies, personalities, and the daily routine of everyone in the household. A well thought-out design takes all these factors into account to create a functional, cohesive space unique to that family,” says Laurel & Wolf’s Jamie Clugston.
Ensuring the comfort of everyone from the family pet to the parents is essential when designing a balanced household. According to Julie Daniel, “A well-designed home allows each occupant to feel comfortable, offers them privacy and personalization, as well as a sense of connection to nature and connection to visitors and other occupants of the house. It gives the occupant a feeling of stability. When designing a home, products should be purchased and the space should be arranged to promote these elements of privacy, comfort, the ability to personalize, a connection to the outdoors, and interaction.”
4. A Space That Tells A Story
No matter how much we love West Elm, we don’t necessarily want our spaces to look like a carbon copy of the store. This is where personalization comes in. Hannah Briscoe says that “You want your home to tell a story, and without a personal touch, it is just a room with furniture in it. Personalized items turn cookie-cutter spaces into original and authentic rooms. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to walk into someone’s home and see a piece that is completely individual, it tells me who the person is and ties the room together. Whether it is pieces of artwork created by children of the home or an antique/family heirloom, personalized items always create unique, well-designed spaces!”
5. A Highly Functional Floor Plan
Figuring out the perfect layout for a large home, let alone a small apartment can be a serious design challenge. “A well-designed house has an efficient, convenient, and safe interior traffic flow/pattern. The home should be designed around a family’s routine and how they navigate the inside of the home. Strategical space planning is also a key element in creating an efficient traffic flow,” says Gaby Martinez.
Mirrors have the ability to instantly create the illusion of scale and create a focal point, but Kate Cabiltes thinks that they can do even more. “They expand a space, brighten a space, and can concurrently add interest to a room or area! You can source so many shapes, finishes and styles nowadays that you can easily replace artwork with them for a statement wall or even a bright gallery wall.”
Whether you’re currently coveting that all-over white look, or prefer a more contrasting color palette, designers always recommend a ton of texture. “Every well designed home has layers and layers of texture. Texture provides warmth and coziness in subtle ways. If a client prefers a neutral space, the layers of texture will prevent the space from feeling flat, cold and boring,” says Kate Bode.