8 Things Interior Designers Notice the Instant They Walk Through Your Door

 | Aug 14, 2017

If an interior designer were to walk through your front door, like, right now, what would this professional think of the place you call home?

We’ll tell you right now: plenty. And that’s even before you’ve given the pro the grand tour. Interior designers, with their sharply honed sensibilities, can take in a space in seconds. In fact, these pros can’t help but make a ton of snap judgments—and typically these first impressions aren’t all that good.

In case you’re curious about what jumps out at interior designers when they first enter a home, here’s an unsettling glimpse, courtesy of some experts who aren’t afraid to spill the beans. But don’t beat yourself up if you recognize your home in some of these criticisms; these flaws are entirely fixable. Read on for an inspiring home decor wake-up call.

1. A wonky flow

Photo by Intrabuild

“The first think I notice is whether or not the furniture placement promotes good flow of traffic,” notes Lorelie Brown, a Showhomes franchisee in Charleston, SC. Most living and family rooms have a focal wall that’s anchored by a fireplace or television, which means the chairs and couch should be arranged to face this point without causing you to walk awkwardly around them.

“I find this problem happens a lot in an open floor plan, with pieces defeating the whole ‘open’ idea,” she adds.

The solution: Less is more. Remove extraneous chairs and side tables to create a natural path in and out of the space.

2. Poor lighting

Photo by Rebekkah Davies Interiors + Design

The wrong lighting can ruin even the best interior design.

“Usually when I walk into a home, the overall look is dark and drab because there’s not enough of the right kinds of light,” says Anna Shiwlall, a designer with 27 Diamonds in Los Angeles.

Of course, we can’t all be blessed with a flood of natural light, but you can install what you need rather easily. Sit in each chair or section of the room, and determine whether you can read easily. If not, add in the missing table or floor lamps; don’t rely on one big overhead light.

3. The insane amount of clutter

Photo by CKS Design Studio

Interior designers dream of a streamlined, junk-free look, which means their eyes will immediately come to rest on the hot mess that is your bookshelf.

“Just because you have it doesn’t mean it needs to be on display,” points out Jeanne Hessen, senior designer at Closet Factory in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Her advice? Pick and choose a few sentimental or interesting pieces to show off, and put the rest away.

4. A lack of theme

Photo by Dresser Homes

Style continuity is a big one for design pros. If your pieces don’t work well together or there’s no unifying color or theme to the rooms, the whole look can feel off.

“This seems to come from a lack of understanding of the style elements and characteristics of the pieces in the room,” explains Mark Sidell, a Closet Factory designer. Too many colors, in particular, can create a sense of disorder. Make it better by choosing a neutral palette and then introducing just a couple of coordinating hues.

5. That (ahem) smell

Photo by Renewal Design-Build

Truth: Interior designers make snap judgments not just on what they see, but also on what they smell. As a homeowner, you’ve become inured to your own odors, but an outsider can nail a scent right away.

Pets are the most obvious offenders, followed by cooking smells and odious candles. Fortunately, the remedy is an easy one: Open the windows as often as you can to air out stale spaces (especially in bedrooms and the kitchen).

6. The state of your loo


We can’t be more emphatic here: Your bathroom must be pristine!

Interior professionals (and potential buyers) will look with a critical eye at every bathroom in your home, and a dirty one will convince them that the entire home isn’t clean, even if it is. Towels must be fresh, grout should be clean, and definitely clear your counters of personal items (makeup, hair dryer, toothbrush).

7. No sense of scale

Photo by Rugo/ Raff Ltd. Architects

We’re talking tiny lamps on huge tables, or king-size beds squeezed into too-small rooms.

“I always notice the layout and scale of the pieces in a bedroom,” says Hessen. Frankly, most people buy whole packages at the furniture store instead of choosing complementary items in the correct sizes for their home.

“To fix this, try to mix and match your styles and the stores where you shop,” she adds. “You’ll end up with a more interesting, inviting space.”

8. A lack of personal style

Photo by Rikki Snyder

Let it shine! A lack of personality in a home means your space will appear boring or sterile. Even worse is a look that’s been copied directly from a catalog. A designer can certainly help you develop a style, but you can also jazz up your abode with art you love, mementos from a faraway trip, or a collection that has special meaning.


7 Secret Thoughts Interior Designers Have About Your Home—Revealed

 | Aug 7, 2017

Interior designers have taste and style to spare, but here’s another trait they typically have in spades: tact. And for good reason—they know that not everyone is dying to hear their uncensored, unsolicited “helpful” opinions about their homes. Friends and family members might not want to know that those quartz countertops they just installed are so last year. Even clients who’ve hired these pros for their expertise don’t necessarily want the whole truth about just how bad their pad looks premakeover, right?

But make no mistake, interior designers have a running monologue in their heads packed with judgments and pet peeves—and truth be told, these are often the very best jewels of advice they could share with anyone who’s willing to listen.

You want the truth? You can handle the truth! So if you are curious and want to take a peek inside the dark corners of an interior designer’s mind, read on—then check if your home is guilty as charged.

1. ‘Why is the bed over there?’

Cabbages & Roses Ltd

While homeowners often obsess over their kitchens and living rooms, their bedrooms can leave a whole lot to be desired, according to Lorelie Brown, a Showhomes franchisee in Charleston, SC.

“The bedroom is supposed to be a restful retreat, but the way many people arrange the furniture can be awkward,” Brown says.

Amy Bell of Red Chair Home Interiors in Cary, NC, agrees. “I’m a stickler for bed placement,” she says. The head of the bed is the focal point and should be visible from the doorway. “It’s so disorienting to walk into a bedroom and then have to turn back around to see the bed because it’s on the same wall as the door.”

2. ‘The artwork’s too damn high’

Photo by Level Look

Artwork that’s placed too high is another secret annoyance for Bell as well.

“As a general rule, I like to hang pictures so that the midpoint of the piece is 60 inches from the floor,” she explains.

Exceptions to this include placing art over a low piece of furniture or in the dining room. “In this case, you’ll want to hang it where it can be viewed from a seated position,” she adds. You never want visitors to crane their necks in order to get a look at your paintings.

3. ‘You’re storing your stuff all wrong’

Photo by Lazzari USA

Every home has storage woes—and interior designers are quite obsessed with solving it.

“Clients usually ask for more storage, not realizing that the way they’re using their current closets and bins is inefficient,” says Anna Shiwlall, a designer at 27 Diamonds, in Los Angeles. Simply decluttering and adding smart units in cool colors can immediately brighten your look.

“A lack of good cabinetry really stands out and can distract from the other great features in a house, but it’s often one of the last things considered,” adds Pamela Amerson, a designer at Closet Factory, in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

4. ‘Dear God, not another brown couch’

Brown and dark colors can make a room uninviting.
Brown and dark colors can make a room uninviting.praethi/iStock

“So many sellers have dark brown furniture or mahogany bedroom sets,” laments Brown. “But there’s nothing necessarily about this look that would entice a potential buyer—it’s just not inherently inviting.”

Dark pieces make a dim room feel even drearier, a small room tinier, and a dated home even more so. Think blond wood when considering flooring and new furniture.

“Lighter pieces also help increase the visual sense of space, which is critical for buyers trying to connect with a home,” she adds.

5. ‘Too much color!’

The color is a bit much.
The color is a bit much.hanohiki/iStock

A fuchsia bathroom and lime-green kitchen might seem funky, but sometimes too much color can be, well, too much.

“A home is more interesting if color is used as an accent, whether with pillows or tabletop accessories,” notes Jeanne Hessen, a senior designer at Closet Factory.

A profusion of color can be chaotic, so use it sparingly. And if you’re gearing up for a sale, most interiors designers and stagers urge their clients to go neutral. Quiet tones are more universally appealing and will allow potential buyers to imagine their own furniture in the space without having to (mentally) repaint it.

6. ‘That wall has gotta go’

Photo by Erin Hoopes

Interior designers live and breathe light and layout. And to achieve an optimal look, sometimes a wall or two needs to come down.

Lorraine Holmberg, a decorating pro with HR Design Group in New York City, is always praying a homeowner will agree to a little demolition.

“In my mind, I start to work out which walls I’d remove to open up the kitchen and living areas,” she says. “And I almost always plan to take out the back of the exterior wall in order to add glass doors.”

7. ‘This open floor plan doesn’t feel like home’

Photo by pulltab Browse modern living room ideas

Lorena Canals, founder of the brand of furniture of the same name, loves open floor plans, but hates how people have no idea how to carve up this cavernous space into areas that feel cozy and intimate.

“Furniture is usually placed too far apart,” says Canals.

The solution, she says, is to use rugs to tie a space together. “Rugs give you the opportunity to create multiple intimate spaces when they’re placed correctly,” she notes. As a general rule, people choose rugs that are too small. Instead, they should be large enough that your furniture should sit at least half on, half off the rug.

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The Secret to Making Money in Real Estate May Be Buying a Home Near This Grocery Store Chain

 | Aug 3, 2017

Here’s some food for thought.

Americans who own homes that are closer to a Trader Joe’s grocery store—as opposed to a Whole Foods or ALDI grocery store—saw higher home price appreciation, according to data from released this week from real estate analytics firm ATTOM Data Solutions. The study looked at 1,275 ZIP codes nationwide with a least one Whole Foods store, one Trader Joe’s store and one ALDI store.

Indeed, homeowners nearest to a Trader Joe’s have seen an average 5-year home price appreciation of 67%, compared to 52% appreciation for homeowners near a Whole Foods and 51% near an ALDI. Average appreciation for all ZIP codes with these grocery stores nationwide is 54%.

Plus, homeowners near a Trader Joe’s also have added equity, owning an average 36% equity in their homes ($232,439), compared to homeowners near Whole Foods, who had an average of 31% equity ($187,925) and homeowners near ALDI, who had an average 18% equity ($46,352). The average equity for all ZIP codes with these grocery stores nationwide is 24%.

While it’s not clear why exactly homeowners near a Trader Joe’s are coming out ahead here, it could be that, while Whole Foods tends to put its stores in more established, affluent neighborhoods, Trader Joes might pick trendier, a little-less-established ones, says Eric Zollinger, the director of sales for Manhattan development 196 Orchard, which is being sold by real estate firm Douglas Elliman and has an Equinox in the building. He notes that while established affluent neighborhoods have seen plenty of home price growth, those that are up-and-coming and super trendy sometimes see even faster home price appreciation.

If you’re an investor hoping to flip your home—meaning that you will buy and sell it within a year—however, the calculations may be different. “Properties near an ALDI are an investor’s golden goose with an average gross flipping ROI of 69%, compared to properties near a Whole Foods which had an average gross flipping ROI of 41% and Trader Joe’s at 36%,” the report revealed. “The average gross flipping ROI for all ZIP codes with these grocery stores nationwide is 57 percent.”

Plus, properties near an ALDI had an average gross rental yield of 10%, compared to properties near a Whole Foods with an average gross rental yield of 6% and Trader Joe’s at 5%. The average flipping ROI for all ZIP codes with these grocery stores nationwide is 8 percent.

This story originally appeared on Moneyish.com.

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