GAFF Rescue: 16 Decor Mistakes To Avoid

Main pic – Loaf

Moving into a new pad? Finally getting the keys to your first home after years of renting? Have a flexible landlord who’s cool with having you put your own stamp on your rental? Great, but before you go hell for leather, watch out for these decor mistakes. Take it from us, we’re the ones who’ve made them.

1. Take your time.
This is probably our biggest learning around interiors so far and this covers every aspect of your home, from paint colours to furniture pieces to deciding on a particular look for a room. It’s very easy when you first move in to get overwhelmed with excitement, and what with months of Pinterest board stock-piling, you’re ready to fill every corner of your living space so that it’s instantly Instagram ready. Nope. One of the greatest things you can do for your bank balance, your home and your sanity, is live in a space before you decide on everything that goes in it. Your mind will change. This is a certainty. What you thought would work on a whim – because it was on sale – might look good for a few weeks and then as you start to feel at home you’ll wish you had given it more consideration. This is counterproductive for us to say, we know; we’re the ones filling your feeds with interior inspiration on a daily basis. However, our advice is to take each room one by one and start with one piece, or one colour that you like and build from there. You can add something new with each paycheck, but resist the urge to have it all planned out before you’ve even crossed the threshold. I (Caroline) WISH I had a little more patience when I moved in.

2. Measure everything and keep scale/proportions in mind.
I’ve resisted this one for a long time; I HATE having to whip out the measuring tape and double check whether or not something will fit. Once I’ve fallen in love with something – such as a bar stool or an armchair – I get sad thinking that a stupid measurement might tell me I can’t have it. Well, this, you will know, is just plain stupid. While those with an interiors obsession will often lead with their heart, you NEED to balance the impulse with the practical side of things, otherwise, you WILL waste your money. Every piece of furniture comes with spec info, especially if you’re buying online. So you don’t even have to go far to find out if that side table will be a goer or not. And remember, when you’re instore, things can look far smaller in a big showroom than they will in your house. Measurements won’t lie to you. Furthermore, while something might ‘fit’ you have to keep scale in mind. Yes, it fits in that corner, but is it generally too big for the room? The scale is SO important. I am currently stuck with two kitchen stools that are far too high for the height of the island which means you can’t fit your legs under it properly and have to hunchback yourself over to eat anything. Not ideal, not practical, and I was too taken with their appearance to consider measuring things in advance. Facepalm.

3. Don’t buy super high-end unless you know you can’t get it for cheaper elsewhere.
In an ideal world where we are loaded, we would just walk into West Elm and say ‘I’ll have everything, please’. Alas, we have to be more thrifty, and while we adore this brand and would squirrel away our pennies until we can afford a statement piece from West Elm, we also have to remember that there are affordable alternatives. Of course, take to the high-end brands for inspiration, but remember that more accessible brands will have very similar offerings because everyone’s working to the same dominant trends – like in fashion. You might fall in love with a designer dining table in Arnotts, but before you commit to it, check around – can you get something very similar for a lot less – and this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any less quality – from the likes of Harvey Norman? Currently, I am saving for a bedroom overhaul. I really want a West Elm style room, but if I were to get everything from here I’d have to remortgage my GAFF. What I will do instead is work a little bit of West Elm in with lower price point high street brands. Essentially, I’m following their lead in terms of style and scouring the likes of HomeSense and Sostrene Grene for similar takes on things.

Farrow & Ball

4. Don’t get too carried away with trends.
How we fit out our interiors is becoming as important and as popular as how we fill our wardrobes, but to have the same disposable attitude towards furniture is just a bad idea. Yes, we write about new trends and we keep an eye out for what’s coming down the line, but no, we do not live and die by the interior trends. We can’t afford to and we suspect you’re the same. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by decor trends and think that you have to be changing up your interior style on a seasonal basis. Nope. What this means, however, is exercising a bit of control over your trend-following habits. Yes, embrace a new trend in a wall print or a cushion cover, or the coolest plants of the moment, but as for everything else, think long-term. What furniture pieces will lend themselves to a multiple of looks? When it comes to trends, it’s all about how you style things; it’s not about the staple pieces such as your sofa or your dining table. By keeping your trends satisfied within the realm of soft furnishings, you won’t break the bank and you won’t find yourself in a perpetual cycle of having to replace things.

5. Don’t have too much stuff.
This one’s a little more subjective, but it’s a mistake I’ve made that I’m slowly learning from. Again it comes down to the excitement and the ‘oh this is a bargain, I’ll find a home for it’ mentality. If you’re new to a home you’ll be familiar with this one. But clutter in any room is not conducive with a relaxing environment, which your home should always be. It’s your nest. Do you really need 5 candles on the one table? Are all the scents not going to compete (yes they will!). Do you need seven cushions one couch (they are a bitch to plump on a daily basis)? Try living with more open space and resist the urge to cover every surface square inch with something. This means you will give more attention to what’s there and everything won’t cancel everything else out. It’s all about quality – and with decorative pieces the quality can just refer to the aesthetics rather than what it’s made of – than quantity. If you do have a certain amount of stuff that you want on display, rely on chic trays and catch-alls to keep things feeling less cluttered. A tray on a coffee table for remote controls, coasters and a candle keeps everything feeling neat and tidy.


Below are some extra things to be mindful of that you might overlook in the midst of a Pinterest binge.

– A rug that’s too small for the space will make the whole thing feel odd. Mark out the dimensions with masking tape and see how it feels.
– Make sure to maximise natural light – don’t go shoving furniture into spaces that block the natural light that is so hard to come by in city homes.
– Keep proportions in mind with wall art. A massive wall either requires one larger piece of art or a gallery wall made up of several pieces. One tiny print on a big-ass wall won’t work.
– Choose one or two really good quality statement cushions for your sofa rather than five that you think will make it look more cosy. It won’t.
– Do not forget to measure curtains properly. Curtains that hang just below the floor will draw your attention and not in a good way. It’s like trousers that are just that bit too short. Curtains that touch the floor are far more stylish than shorter curtains, so if curtains are a must, go long.
– Your living room doesn’t need to be designed entirely around the TV. And the TV shouldn’t be so big that it almost hits you in the face when you enter the room. Plan out your room design first and incorporate a TV into it, rather than the other way around.
– Don’t forget the importance of house plants. If your room is feeling a bit dead and you can’t figure out why, it might be the lack of natural greenery.
– Don’t forget to test your paint colour before commiting to it. The light will always be different on the walls at home than in the store. And don’t forget to give it two coats for a realistic indication.
– White walls can work but you should consider some sort of colour in a soft furnishing otherwise it will look and feel very clinical.
– Don’t feel compelled to buy a matching set of furniture. You can achieve consistency and an overall look without having three pieces from the same collection. Instead choose pieces that you love – that are timless – and that complement each other as opposed to matching each other.
– Do not forget the importance of soft atmospheric lighting. If you rely on overhead lighting only your home won’t feel inviting. And while you’re at it, you don’t need to go for the strongest brightest bulbs available. Think about the ambience you want to create.

  1. Good morning, are wall lights very old fashioned now? A room in our house has wall lights, I was going to buy new ones and a friend said they are history , and just go with lamps?

    1. Absolutely not! Table lamps and floor lamps are just easier and obviously no electrician required but wall lamps can be super stylish if you choose something minimal with a brass finish.

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