Let’s be real honest here: Not everything that looks good is actually good. Unfortunately for us, this also applies to interior designs. The interior design features listed below are some of the more popular ones we’ve seen surfaced in people’s homes. As an inspirational platform, we’ve even championed some of them!
But in today’s guide, we want to show you some of the more problematic aspects that go with these popular interior design features. Rather than burst anyone’s bubble, we are hoping to manage your expectations. And if you’re still up for it after reading this, we say go for it because you should always do you.
1. Cement screed surfaces
Image: Peny Hsieh Interiors | Hey! Cheese
Popular in industrial styles or in homes that want a more masculine, edgy look, cement screed surfaces are a great option for adding a layer of texture, visually or otherwise. But it has a number of cons, the primary one being the likelihood of chipping and cracking over time depending on the quality of the material in the first place, your usage of the surface or factors you cannot control e.g. humidity. Also, because cement screed is usually applied by hand, you may not get your desired results 100% because of the variance in tones and grains.
Tip: To avoid all the fuss and to be more assured of your final look, you may wish to go with other materials that look just like cement screed. Tiles, laminates and quartz now carry a wide range of cement screed-like choices that look similar to the real thing—minus the maintenance. Go with fewer joints or grout lines as much as you can for a more realistic look.
If you prefer the real deal, make sure you opt for a reputable contractor and interior designer that have done cement screed surfaces before. Look through their previous works to make sure you like what you see before committing.
2. Glass dividers
Image: NestSpace Design | Hey! Cheese
Besides being a big décor statement, glass dividers have also become a staple in smaller homes looking to zone their spaces. They are visually unobtrusive compared to concrete walls, and they still allow light to come through while offering privacy when needed. Bi-fold ones are particularly savvy—they present an added versatility since they can be opened when needed and closed when there’s a need to keep things private.
Unfortunately, glass dividers aren’t the easiest to clean. They show up fingerprints, smudges and dust clearly. And if you’ve used them for your kitchen, you have the added inconvenience of greasy and sticky stains that you’ll need to wipe off every once in a while. Glass dividers may also be accidentally run into by young children and pets in the home, making them not so kid- or pet-friendly.
Tip: Rather than go for full-height glass dividers, consider half-height glass walls or window cut-outs that offer a similar sense of airiness but with a much smaller surface area to clean and can be much safer for young children and pets.
3. Farmhouse sinks
Image: Sweeten Stories
A common feature in cottage or country style interiors, farmhouse sinks have also moved their way into more modern style homes. Their exposed apron front makes it a centrepiece in any kitchen. It’s a large sink, so it does mean you’ll get to wash anything from your huge wok to your 13×9” baking sheets with ease.
The problem with farmhouse sinks though is that they can be relatively deep. So if you’re on the shorter side, you may want to rethink this since it will make it harder for you to hand-wash your dishes or to clean your sink.
Farmhouse sinks are also incredibly heavy, especially if they are made from fireclay, so they will need a good cabinet support underneath. Any alterations to your cabinet design will likely incur extra renovation costs on top of the pricey sink. Their unique installation also means you cannot swap them out for another sink type just as easily down the road.
Tip: Farmhouse sinks made from fireclay may be heavy, but they are also the most durable and most susceptible to stains, scratches and chips. Porcelain/ceramic ones may look similar, but they are less heavy and not as durable. Make sure you budget in the extra costs for installing a farmhouse sink and also account for the lesser under-sink storage space if your heart is set on having one.
4. Lots of plants
Image: Hao Design
With the jungalow trend sprouting faster than ever and with everyone stuck at home because of the pandemic, we are seeing more homes decked out in a variety of indoor plants, green walls and herb gardens. Besides being good for our mental health, plants can also help to purify the air by absorbing toxins in the environment.
Alas, not everyone has the right environment, the green fingers or the patience and time to care for them properly. And then what happens when borders open and we start to travel? Who’s going to water them? So filling up your home with greenery and then killing them slowly isn’t going to do anyone any good, least of all your plants.
Tip: For beginners, you’ll want to start with beginner plants like the pothos or the snake plant, both of which are easy to care for and require little maintenance. The latter is also great for those who don’t get a lot of sunlight into your home. You can consider investing in faux but realistic looking plants to deck out your spaces or make use of other natural materials (pebbles, cork and rattan) to invite a sense of outdoors in.
5. Open shelves
Image: A Little Design
Open shelves are a common feature in interior design magazines and websites. Styled and curated to perfection, they are the epitome of a chic home and everyone wants a piece of them. Unfortunately, there are downsides to open shelving that we don’t often think about.
When left on their own, open shelves invite dust and grease stains—meaning you’ll have to clean them all the time. Also, curating those shelves isn’t going to be as easy as it looks. And if are planning to use them as storage, they will definitely be more difficult to style in a way that looks polished rather than messy.
Tip: Instead of using open shelves as your main storage piece, keep them for display so you will avoid clutter. Minimise the things that you are putting out, which also helps to make wiping down the shelves a lot easier.
6. Dining banquettes
Image: Marcela Madureira and Lorenzza Lamoglie
Dining banquettes are big space savers since they tend to seat more and take up lesser footprint (they are designed to hug the wall) than conventional dining setups. Plus, they can feel incredibly cosy with those charming corner benches. These advantages mean we are seeing them a lot more in homes here.
However, they do have downsides to think about. One of which is that they are fixed in place, so it does mean you can’t move the seats around. Also, things can get awkward and inconvenient when the people sitting inside want to get out first. And unless your seats are upholstered and have cushioned backs, it can feel quite uncomfortable if you’re sitting for long periods of time.
Tip: Make sure you get your dining banquette upholstered for extra comfort. If you don’t want to splurge on that, invest in plenty of cushions. Opt for an easy-to-move table if you can so that you can shift the table away quickly for people to get out from within. Castors will be particularly handy.
7. Open wardrobes
Image: KC Design Studio | Hey! Cheese
One of the best things about open wardrobes? They can save you a ton of money. And in the absence of doors, you get to store more in the same amount of space since there’s lesser restriction. Open wardrobes work especially well in dedicated walk-in wardrobes, offering a luxurious vibe. They also allow you to pick up your clothes at a glance, without having to open up doors.
On the flip side, open wardrobes can look messy, especially if you have the habit of stuffing your clothes in your wardrobe. Clothes that don’t get regularly worn can accumulate quite a bit of dust in an open concept wardrobe as well.
Tip: If you are going for an open wardrobe, it’s best to use them in a separate closet area rather than in a section of a bedroom to minimise the visual clutter and dust accumulation. Get matching hangers to keep things looking neat and consistent. Consider adding a couple of drawer modules to hide unmentionables or pieces of clothing that don’t hold up well hung or stacked.