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The Cardinal Sinners of Decorating

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Bad taste is a sin but you CAN be saved. The confessional is open...
 
Whether evil exists is open to debate but, in a design context, it's certainly prevalent. And it's a determined force -- each time we arrange an exorcism by paintbrush, dodgy decor returns in another guise, in another room, in another house. Not that we're grumbling -- makeover manevolence keeps us busy. Both sides of the pond.
 
Yup, we're permanently at war, but victory will eventually be ours. We're more than designers, you see, we're global bad taste busters, sent earthbound to make the world a prettier place. Described once (by a British scribe) as "painting superheroes with wallpaper swords," we're like Spiderman to the Green Goblin or Superman to Lex Luthor. Praise the Lord for Colin and Justin, we hear you cry, as Scottish tongues dig further into Scottish cheeks.
 
But what if we could stop evil, in its various guises, from manifesting in the first place? Fact is, because we see the same offences week in week out, we can propose an identikit guide to the world's typical design crimes. Suitably informed, you could avoid the problems altogether or, at the very least, confess and make change. Hallelujah! It's time to 'name and shame'...
 
First Time Floppers 

Many folk move into first homes and furnish with haphazard, mismatched hand-me-downs. 'Compulsory recycling' like this is often a measure of economics -- and it of course makes sense -- but before the next step is taken (and so that evil doesn't grip hold) an element of 'tuning' is required. As you settle and acquire extra resources, weed out items you don't love, and replace slowly with things you do.

Sinning signs:
 
Glance into a problem home and you'll see a veneer of dread; an old sofa, for example, with a throw casually 'draped' across offensive, lumpy upholstery. Shelves will bulge with an assembly of mismatched (but not in a cute way) crockery, poor lighting (problem homes seldom have pairs of table lamps) and all manner of discard bequeathed by, ahem, unloading in-laws.
 
Empty Nesters 

Mid-50s, typically, rattling around in a dated, empty house, these lovely folk exist in a time warp, terrified to reclaim space lest doing so somehow confirms kids have indeed moved on. We particularly enjoy working for this contingent; they deserve 'correction'; they've put their hearts into bringing up their kids. But change can be good -- even cathartic -- and can help parents move on. Break out and reclaim life, say we. The re-feathering revolution starts here.
 
Sinning signs:
 
Baywatch and Star Wars posters tacked loosely to bedroom walls. Kitchens that were fitted around the same time Noah built his ark, often with frosted Plexiglas ceilings. These spaces are a salient reminder that cash, throughout the years, was spent on the kids. Which is of course lovely. Now, however, chicks flown, available funding should (potentially) be more liquid. What? Hold it. School fees to pay? Shoot; we forgot that aspect. OK, fair comment, but how much does it cost to peel away a bikini clad Pammy Anderson from a time warp bedroom wall? We rest our case.
 
Design Dummies
 
Design is a language; it spells out who you are and communicates this to those around you. A double D home may 'boast', for example, an over-scaled modern dining table, Victorian striped wallpaper and quirky bistro seating, a less than stylish triptych that quickly exposes an utterly errant design gene. Imagine wearing a ski hat, black rubber waders, a cocktail dress and a bed jacket. Quite the sartorial vision, huh? OK, so each garment might work individually (on the slopes, while fishing, at a party or while snoozing) but come on; at one time? A messy mash up best avoided.
 
Sinning signs:
 
Glance around and you'll observe an evil fashion faux pas at every turn; clashing patterns, heavily themed schematics, ergonomically unsound furniture and suspicious ornamentation. The look positively screams 'ill conceived' with each vignette more disturbing than the one by which it's preceded.
 
Clutter Nutters
 
We've viewed and spewed over a million and one overloaded homes, though in this category, overloaded refers not just to accessories and collections but to finishes such as patterned paper, swirly carpets and overpowering paint choices. If truth be known we relish these abodes. We enjoy releasing a more minimal aesthetic, even if that means presiding over the cull of a hundred strong flock of ceramic owls or an over zealous china frog army.

Sinning Signs:
 
Surfaces, at every turn, will be cluttered. There'll be an army of gesticulating Lladro ladies jostling for space and, in the shag carpeted bathroom, the loo roll will be wearing a knitted skirt with a perky wee Barbi doll protruding from its cardboard tummy. We never quite 'understood' the toilet roll doll and now, as the fervor for retro gathers momentum, we live in fear that her star may once again ascend. Please no. Not ever.
 
Mr. and Mrs. Anonymous

Those who inhabit these gaffs suffer from 'delusions of blandeur' thanks to their beige box cookie cutter homes. The same applies in the residential design context where soulless decorating makes space visually sag. By all means paint everything beige at sales time (to temp a swift purchase) but, if staying put, inject at least a little personality. You know it makes sense.
 
Sinning signs:
 
Excessive use of espresso timber and beige wall to wall Berber. Further examination generally reveals lightly textured wallpaper -- with no particular pattern -- 'inoffensive' (we'll be the judge of that) faux mahogany side tables (that are generally too small to hold a thimble, let alone a teacup) crossword puzzle books and beige velour everywhere. Jeez, the very thought is giving us goose bumps big enough to ladder our Gucci jeans...
 
The aforementioned problems, however, are only the tip of the style free iceberg. Hey, we've not even touched on avocado bathrooms or popcorn ceilings. Decorative malaise, you see, prevails in many quarters and even talking about it can have a debilitating Kryptonite effect on our superpowers. So, if you'll excuse us, we're off for a battery charge. Yup, it's time to drape ourselves in cashmere, sip a coupe of Bolly and do the flick through a hundred and one back issues of Architectural Digest. Ah, joy; we can almost feel our equilibrium rebalancing. Any moment now, against an aural backdrop of Kylie Minogue, our remedial powers will return. And at that precise moment two super heroes will fly into battle. Blimey! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it's...

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