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Is your décor stopping your home from selling? Expert reveals the nine interior design mistakes putting off buyers – from open shelves to matching furniture

  • Deirdre Mc Gettrick, CEO of retailer, names nine mistakes to avoid 
  • Says open shelves and wardrobes are not practical and look untidy and cluttered
  • Advises to avoid matching furniture, which will make a room look flat and dated
  • Adds not to hang decorative items too high on the walls  and keep at eye level

From the stamp duty holiday to people looking to change their lives amid the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s a lot of competition in the housing market at the moment,  meaning sellers must ensure to present their homes in the best possible light.

Now Deirdre Mc Gettrick, CEO furniture and furnishing website, revealed nine common interior faux-pas that could well put off prospective buyers by making your property look cluttered, outdated or smaller than it really is.

Among her top tips are to avoid open shelves that make a room look messy, as well as hanging curtains too low, which creates the illustion of a more cramped space.

Following trends too closely, such as an explosion of florals if you’re into the ‘cottagecore’ look could also deter buyers, so you might want to consider a lick of neutral paint to attract more interest.

Open-shelves and wardrobes

Deirdre said that although open-shelves and wardrobes look nice in pictures, they are often unpractical and untidy.

‘The number one question to ask is how are you going to use the space? Design is beauty, but no amount of design will overcome frustrations if you can’t use a room practically,’ she said.

‘Although open shelving looks great on Pinterest and Instagram, in reality it’s just not practical,’ she added.

‘You need to remember that images on social media and in magazines have often been curated by experts and will display only the most beautiful, decorative items.

In order to be able to do this in your own home, you’ll need ample storage for everything else!

This is particularly important if you’re looking to sell your home – ensure any mess is hidden from sight as clutter may deter potential buyers and ultimately devalue it. 

Matching furniture

If you’re buying furniture, don’t be afraid to mix various styles and periods. Selecting furniture that is all from the same range can make a room look flat and dated.

It will also give the impression of a showroom, rather than a home that has character and is reflective of the owner’s individual style. You want a space that has a mix of materials and colours rather than an overly curated look.

Bring your designs together using colours and attributes that speak to each other rather than being all matchy-matchy.


Florals have become hugely popular following the rise of the cottagecore trend, but careful consideration needs to be given to how the pattern is used.

The 80s was all about frills and femininity and saw us cover every wall, window and bedspread in it. Now, for a more contemporary look, it needs to be much more controlled.

For the perfect cottagecore design, visualise idyllic country life with cosy interiors such as traditional-style fabrics and floral covered prints.

However, my advice would be to not let a current trend take over; you can make a big impact by just including accents of a trend, which will add longevity to your design.

Hanging items too high

Whether it’s a piece of art, a clock or the TV, don’t be tempted to hang the item too high on your wall. The piece should be as close to eye level as possible.

If you have very high ceilings, you can bump it up a little, but in general try to maintain the centre of art pieces at your eye level.

You can also use the height of a doorframe or window as a top-level gauge for a large piece of art or mirror.

Misplaced curtains

As the cold weather sets in, curtains are a great addition to windows to block out the dark evening and importantly keep the heat in but the position of them can really impact the look and feel of a room.

You should hang your curtain as high to the ceiling as possible to help with the illusion of having more height in the room. Avoid hanging them just above the window which will make the room feel smaller.

As a gauge, the curtain rail should be 2 inches away from the ceiling and don’t end the curtain until you hit the floor, ideally they should puddle at the bottom.

Ignoring your lighting

Quite often when people redecorate a room, they don’t change their lighting, but you’d be surprised at how something as simple as this will immediately update the look and feel.

Research from found that Brits spend 81 hours looking for the perfect lighting and I can understand why, because it makes such a difference to your interiors. Make sure you invest in multiple different sources so you can create various ambiances.

Don’t be afraid to consider task lighting, such as a desk lamp, so your space works both from a functional and fashionable point of view. This also works well as part of a wider room.

Pushing furniture up against the walls

We conventionally push all furniture up against a wall, however bringing the furniture away from them allows a starkly open space to feel cosier and helps create a nice flow of walkways.

Having everything adjacent to a wall can make the room feel a bit bland and out of proportion. Don’t be afraid to use angles to define an area of use. Bonus points if you can use a rug to define the walkway.

The incorrect size

When you know what you want to do with a room, get your measuring tape and know the exact space you have available to ensure your furniture is proportional.

The pandemic has meant we’ve embraced online shopping like never before, and we’re more confident at buying big-ticket items online without having seen them in the flesh.

But it’s important to make a rough floor plan first as it always throws up some insights you might have overlooked. Ideally use masking tape to measure out desired items of furniture, using the measurements available online. This way you won’t waste time considering items that won’t fit.

And if you decide to visit a shop, don’t be afraid to bring your measuring tape to double check the size of pieces. A contemporary home will be one that has been carefully thought out.

Don’t feel the need to purchase everything at once – the average Brit spends 38 days searching for the perfect items of furniture and having spent so much time indoors this year, it’s important that every piece feels just right in the room.