The first rule of design is: everyone's taste is different. But interior designers know so much about trends and style that they can't help but make some judgments (good and bad!) when they enter someone's home. In case you have a design expert roaming your halls, or if you are just curious how to make your house completely designer-friendly, we put together a list of what professionals actually notice when they walk through the front door.
When first visits a client's home, he always picks out what isn't working (usually the layout and room function). Why? So he can offer solutions, of course. "If we're doing construction, I look for architectural errors that we could fix, like poorly aligned doorways and oddly placed overhead lighting," he says.
Within minutes of walking into a room, Sarah Vaile of says she's already reconfigured the furniture in her head. "Nothing drives me crazier than a sofa against the wall in a large room," she says. Often, she finds her clients have good taste, but just don't know how to lay the pieces out.
Small accents can say a lot, which is why CeCe Barfield Thompson of always takes note. "Little touches help a space feel like a home," she says, like flowers by the door, an organized-but-used entry way and a easily accessible bar, of course.
In this case, Vaile says more is always better: "It drives me crazy when there are only two sad throw pillows on a sofa." Not to mention that multiple throws will make your couch so much cozier.
The smallest items in the room catch Eche Martinez's attention: "I'm obsessive about spaces being uncluttered and personally prefer minimal styling," he says. "So many times I walk into beautiful homes only to encounter endless tiny memorabilia sitting on the mantle gathering dust!" Permission to ditch those 10-year-old crafts, granted.
Apparently, how you organize your books says a lot — at least, according to Frank Bostelmann. "Books stacked in piles generally show that no one is reading them and they are there as decorative props," he says. Personally, he likes his collection of hardbacks to be more accessible.
We're talking the trim, crowns and other millwork casings on your walls. "Investing in well-proportioned trims can establish the look and foundation of a room," says Bostelmann. But a cheap stock trim or casing can't be hidden, he warns.
It's all about the clients for Amy Berry. "Design is so personal and ultimately I hope to create spaces that reflect the people and families that inhabit them," she says. The clues she's looking for? The size of the family, if they entertain and what's on their wish list.
Listen, candles have their place, but Barfield says there's nothing worse than an overwhelming fragrance as soon as you enter a home. "Whether it's too many candles, a powerful diffuser or incense, I can't help but wonder what they are trying to hide."
Sure, it seems like a minor detail to you, but many designers said they (unfortunatly for us) notice gaps when they exist. "I am always hyper aware of things that are out of scale," says Berry. Fair enough.
To Barfield, hand soap and clean hand towels are not only subtle, elegant additions to a powder room, but also important ones. "As a new mom, hygiene is definitely on my mind so why not encourage and elevate the hand-washing experience," she says.
Before you panic, Berry wants you to know it's not personal. "There honestly isn't any judgment, if anything it helps point me in the right direction," she says.
Here's proof a designer's mind never stops working: "When I walk into a friend's home for the first time, I'm rarely (if ever) aware of their belongings," admits Wood. "In my mind, I'm always trying to decide how I would arrange my furniture in their house — not their furniture." Talk about passion for the job.