Decor crimes to avoid

Burgundy on the wall? Daniella Norling says you may as well put your keys in the bowl.

From shabby chic to beige-on-beige there are some decor choices that should be avoided at all costs. Here, interiors experts share their worst offenders.


Colours come and colours go but there are some that interior gurus will not tolerate. Daniella Norling from Trove Interior Design names burgundy as a key offender. “It reeks of cheap velour, nasty, shiny polyester and key parties,” she says. “Somebody needs to knock that shade off the colourwheel stat.”

Norling also doesn’t like a lack of colour, or the beige-on-beige look. “It’s like living in a bowl of porridge,” she says. “When I see a home decorated in nothing but neutral tones, I see a person with undisclosed trauma. Seek psychological assistance and unleash your inner rainbow.”

How many nineties renos featured a blue kitchen? It's time to choose another hue.

Hayley Dryland from August Design is specific: no plain, brightly coloured glass splashbacks on her watch thanks, especially in red or green. “This is not the only way to add colour or interest to a kitchen,” she says. “If you do, make sure it ties into a couple of other elements (chairs, artwork, coffee machine) and try marble-look porcelain, mosaics, or printed pattern on glass.”

And Leigh Aston from interiors blog Townhouse Living isn’t a fan of nineties-style blue kitchen cabinets. “Hopefully we’ve learned that neutral colours are a wise choice when it comes to something you might be stuck with for the next 20 years,” she says.

The owners of this beige, scandi-style home should never invite Daniella Norling over for tea.
The owners of this beige, scandi-style home should never invite Daniella Norling over for tea.


Norling names the ever-popular clean and minimalist ‘scandi’ as her most-despised style. “Kiwis really drank the Kool-Aid on this one and gave it the biggest thrashing since avocado bathrooms in the seventies,” she says. “My family come from Sweden and my embarrassment over this trend has left me with an identity crisis.”

Becky Lee from Becky Lee Interiors names ‘shabby chic’ as her look to avoid. “There really is only so much distressed furniture one room can take” she says. “I would encourage shabby chic lovers to study French provincial style – it has similar feel but is a bit more sophisticated and will stand the test of time.”

Once a suburban staple, now a criminal offence.
Once a suburban staple, now a criminal offence.


When it comes to window dressings, the experts have plenty of targets.

For Lee, it’s vertical blinds. “Were they ever trendy?” she asks. “Perhaps when they were first invented in the sixties, but I personally have never understood the attraction when there are so many other good looking choices for covering your windows.”

Dryland wants to see the end of pencil pleat curtains. “They are bunched and very DIY- looking. There’s so many other option like inverted, single or French (two or three pinch), and the ‘wave’.” But for Aston, it’s lacy nets, which once hung in every suburban window. “These days there are so many alternatives to the frumpy dust-catchers from your nana’s house.”

Don't tell our experts or anyone else to dream, eat or love - they might tell you to do something far less polite.
Don’t tell our experts or anyone else to dream, eat or love – they might tell you to do something far less polite.


Norling calls the phenomenon of hanging words on the wall “the pencil-thin eyebrow trend of the interior design world.” “It simply never should have happened,” she says. “I don’t need to be told when to EAT, DREAM or LOVE. I have a mind of my own, thanks very much. It is like putting PEE above your toilet – completely unnecessary.”

Aston would extend this to any inspirational quotes whatsoever. “Has anyone ever “danced like nobody’s watching” because a print on the wall told them to?”


Wood can be good our designers say, but it can also be very bad. Norling points the finger at badly designed rimu furniture. “The fact that rimu is a native timber doesn’t make it a thing of beauty,” she says. “As far as I am concerned, the only good rimu coffee table is one buried in the back garden.” And according to Aston if wood panelling in your home, it’s got to be the real thing. Wood-look veneer is a no-no.


Toilet mats and seat covers, free standing ashtrays, patterned carpet, fake moulded plastic Eames chairs, brown or yellow kitchen appliances and walls with two-tone paint effects all had unfavourable mentions from our experts. You have been warned.