I’ve Been Working With Interior Designers For 3 Years — Here Are Their Top Pet Peeves

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WORDS BY Kelsey Clark

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Published on December 8, 2023

When you work alongside interior designers for three-plus years, you learn a thing or two about their not-so-subtle opinions about decorating a home. From styling throw pillows and arranging furniture to the most controversial — lighting — professional designers are picky, to say the least.

That’s according to our Social Media Manager Carlie Rice, who has been chronicling the many specific, sometimes absurd and funny “rules” gleaned from working with interior designers for three-plus years on our TikTok. “There are certain things that they would absolutely send you to jail for,” she jokingly says.


For legal reasons, all jokes. #interiordesigners #interiordesignerfunny #interiordesignertips #homedecorfunny #fyp

♬ original sound – thehavenly – thehavenly

Ahead, find out exactly what peeves interior designers to their core, according to an industry insider, and what to do instead. Head to our TikTok to see more of Carlie’s insights.

DON’T rely on black and white for contrast

DO contrast different design styles, silhouettes, and shapes for visual interest

Tips for interior design

Contrast doesn’t mean just black and white. There are infinitely more creative and visually interesting ways to add contrast to your home that have nothing to do with color palette. Our designers are all about looking beyond bold black and white, and contrast furniture styles, shapes, and silhouettes instead for a more balanced, unique space.

DON’T rely on overhead lighting

DO have 2-3 sources of lighting per room

Tips for interior design

In Carlie’s words, “don’t even touch that light switch on your wall. Instead, [interior designers] want you to get, like, four to five lamps and use those instead.” But in all seriousness, design pros are all about the ambiance, and relying on boob lighting in your living room just isn’t it. They recommend two to three additional sources of lighting per room, from table and floor lamps to sconces and pendants.

DON’T use the pillows your sofa came with

DO style it up with non-matchy throw pillows

Tips for interior design

Interior designers love a fun throw pillow, so much so that the standard matching pillows that come with your couch are just unacceptable (with the exception of bolster pillows). Upgrade them with fresh pillow covers for a pop of color or pattern, and remember, keep it asymmetrical.

DON’T let your cords be visible.

DO hide them using a few designer tricks

Tips for interior design

Unsightly cords and Wifi routers are a hard no for our interior design team. In fact, we have an entire list of DIYs and tricks of the trade devoted to hiding cords and other tech in the most discreet, chic way possible, including a DIY pedestal-slash-wifi router cover (pictured above). See more in the TikTok below:


Cords? Don’t know her. #cords #cordsolution #cordstorage #hidecords #diy #homedecor #interiordesign #interiordecor #decor #decorinspo #interiordesignideas

♬ Sail Away – lovelytheband

DON’T decorate with dozens of small knick-knacks

DO add scale and impact with oversized mirrors, vases, artwork, and more.

Tips for interior design

This is one of the most common styling mistakes, according to our design team. Don’t be afraid to go oversized and impactful when it comes to decor — whether it’s a mirror, piece of art, vase, or table lamp. Opting for a larger size makes more of a visual statement and makes a surface feel “finished,” whether it’s a mantel or a coffee table.

DON’T use same-size pillow covers and inserts

DO use larger inserts so the pillow covers look full and fluffy

Tips for interior design

This is a top-secret trick of the trade: if you want your throw pillows to look fluffy and full, stuff a 22-inch insert inside a 2o-inch pillow cover. This small upgrade ensures that your throw pillows look plush and full, as opposed to flat and uninspired.

DON’T put books in storage

DO style coffee table books everywhere

Tips for interior design

We’d bet that any interior designer’s home is brimming with coffee table books, particularly design books. Style them in clusters on your coffee table. Create a display in a home library. Layer a stack of two underneath a lamp or vase. Stack them on a pedestal for added height. When it comes to styling design books at home, the limit does not exist.

DON’T float your rug in the middle of furniture

DO have at least the front two legs of each piece of furniture on the rug

Tips for interior design

Rule of thumb: an area rug should always be large enough to sit underneath the first two legs of each piece of furniture, minimum. You don’t want to create a floating rug situation where the only item sitting on top of it is the coffee table. The room will look unfinished, a bit bare, and very college dorm-inspired.

DON’T forget about practical surfaces

DO go beyond coffee tables with cocktail and side tables

Tips for interior design

In a designers’ opinion, a living room is not complete without at least one (if not two) floating cocktail tables or side tables. A coffee table just won’t suffice on its own. These extra small-but-mighty surfaces punch up the functionality factor and ensure that you never have to reach too far for your drink.

DON’T go the matching furniture set route

DO switch up styles, from dining table and chairs to bed frames and nightstands

Tips for interior design

Whatever you do, do not buy a matching furniture set, whether for your dining room, living room, or bedroom. This is arguably our design team’s number-one pet peeve when it comes to shopping for and styling a home. Add shape variation, style, and visual interest by opting for side tables, dining sets, and bedroom sets that don’t match.

Want expert advice on your own space, straight from an interior designer? Get started today with our style quiz.

Words by Kelsey Clark