Welcome to round two of my tough love list of the most played-out design habits of my people. We didn’t invent them. We just refuse to let em die.
#1 Honey Oak Everything
Respectfully, if you find yourself making a choice in wood finish, don’t pick the top trend of 1983. Not everything ages like the Thriller album. And if you are updating a space, there are few more impactful upgrades to make than staining or (gasp) painting the orange away. Don’t be so precious about your wood. It literally grows on trees. Unless you have some intricate carvings or hundred year old trim or something, let that shit go. There’s a whole camp of people who want to update but have been indoctrinated with the “never paint wood” rule. It’s propaganda, a conspiracy by “Big Wood” or something. Fight the powers that be!
Here’ s some great transformation inspiration:
And there are plenty of beautiful wood options out there if you’re a purist and have the cash to spend.
#2 “Up North”
Even in urban areas like where I live many of my people are obsessed with repping that rural life. Carved wooden bears, carcasses, elk-adorned textiles and knotty pine are among the pitfalls. Sigh…it’s a lot.
This is where the important distinction should be respected between design scheme and design theme. It can get a little Rainforest Café. Instead of masculine or rustic, it can read as cheesy (Insert Wisconsin joke). Just don’t do all the things. Subtlety is key. To avoid this pitfall, try a more classic space with simple and beautiful selections and then accessorize in your woodsy truth. A little “Up North” goes a long way.
#3 Carpet Obsessed
I’m just gonna leave this here: 3-4 billion pounds of broad-loom carpet ends up in landfills each year and smaller amounts are incinerated (not great for the air). It produces crazy polluting chemicals in its manufacturing, is difficult to recycle (there is little to no infrastructure in place yet) and installation often introduces volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air in your home, some of which are carcinogens. You might know it as “that new carpet smell”. You can smell it for a few weeks but did you know it continues to “off-gas” at low levels for YEARS? But older carpets can be even worse for indoor air quality. Because it is harder to clean than rugs, especially corners, bacteria can live on in carpet for up to 4 weeks. Dust mites eat dead skin and then poop in your carpet causing asthma and other breathing issues, especially in children.
Rugs can be beautiful and more unique, with an infinite amount of aesthetic options. They can be removed from your home for cleaning and can be vibrated rather than using harmful chemicals. They can be replaced more frequently without professional installers, passed along to a new owner (vintage rugs can add priceless charm without putting anything new into the waste stream!) and they can be found in a host of eco-friendly and recyclable fibers at a lower cost than wall to wall carpets of the same material. Team area rugs. That is all.
Another great option is carpet tiles. They are even more customizable, cleanable and easy to configure for weird sized spaces or coordinating transitions through hallways:
#4 Overstuffed Sofas
So this one is kind of easy because the problem is right in the name. It’s your classic less is more scenario. In this case, less stuffed. This sofa looks like if Jabba The Hutt was a seating option. There is a fine line between casual and sloppy. I’m not sure why this one is so popular round these parts but we could afford to be more adventurous, as a people. Come to the light side.
#5 Boob Lights
Everyone loves boobs but these common flush mount lights fall flat. This highlights a larger issue of settling for builder-grade selections even though there’s a whole wide world of options out there. Standard ceiling fans, plate covers on outlets and light switches, cabinet hardware, etc. There’s endless small ways to personalize a home. Everyone with a personality should have some in their home and you do not necessarily have to sell a kidney to upgrade slightly from the cheapest option that some random builder bought in bulk somewhere. Do some googling. Have fun with it.
I’ve said my piece. Depending on how you received these opinions I’m sorry and you’re welcome.
Contributing blogger and KDI team member: Angela Malone