Every week there seems to be a new, essential item that you need to complete your room décor. Those who are caught up in trends march to the department stores armed with a furniture catalogue in one hand and their wallet in the other, desperate to not go a single minute without that leather-upholstered headboard. Pretty soon their entire room will be cluttered and brimming with the “essential” items they absolutely need. Does that make any sense?

Essentials are supposed to be indispensable items that make a home comfortable and functional. So then why are there so many items marked “essential” when they are quite the opposite?

Just as confused as us? Here’s our list of the 7 “essential” items that your client’s rooms DON’T need!

Fake flowers

real flowers for interior decorator and design essentials

Attempts at livening up a room are worthwhile efforts, but having an actual green space with real, live plants is the best way to do it. Why settle for fake flowers that will only gather dust? If you go too cheap on the flowers, the material might oxidize and you’ll end up with some flowers that have no place outside a scuzzy motel room.

Besides providing a burst of color, real plants will also pump more oxygen and water vapor in the air—your client’s lungs will thank you later. They also have some psychological benefits such as increasing productivity and positivity. Plus, plants like aloe vera also come with a slew of other health benefits like treating sun burns!

Floating rugs

We know that wall-to-wall carpeting is a decorating no-no, but what about its cousin, the rug? Carpets and rugs, in general, aren’t “essential” items—especially in the bathroom and the kitchen! But if you’re decorating a room that’s supposed to feel extra cozy and inviting (think living room or bedroom), it can do wonders to warm up the space.

The trick is to shy away from floating rugs that aren’t anchored by anything. It makes the room look weird and fussy, whereas a bigger rug will expand the space, help define the focal point of a room, add style and color, and make the room more cohesive. Besides, who doesn’t want a few more inches of fuzzy carpeting beneath their toes?

If you’re having trouble conceptualizing how big you want the rug to be, make some measurements and lay down some tape to help you see how much floor space it’ll take up.

Baskets and containers

design essentials with baskets and containers for interior decorating

Having too many baskets and containers will only hide the clutter that should be tossed out. When anyone needs to quickly clean up a room before guests arrive, what do they do? They shove everything into the closet and deal with it later. Only that “later” only comes around once a year during the sometimes-ineffective spring-cleaning purges.

Yes, air-tight jars of spices in the kitchen or cotton balls in the bathroom are great choices—especially for keeping humidity out! But having too many baskets everywhere under the guise of organization can actually make a place feel cluttered.

Encourage your clients to sort through the stuff in their house. Only after categorizing things as “to keep” or “to toss” should you venture out to Hobby Lobby to buy some wicker baskets.

Window treatments

Yes, window treatments are the best combatants against those nosy neighbors, and yes, they can help prevent the home from feeling like a greenhouse during the summer—but are they still really an “essential” item? It’s definitely a polarizing topic in the design community. Some interior decorators say we should ditch window treatments altogether!

Nobody is giving window treatments the boot in the bedroom (we love privacy and afternoon naps!), but you can skip them in the kitchen or dining areas. Especially in rooms that are already dark because of building orientation, ditching the curtains can brighten and open up the space. Natural light is a huge motivator, so having a lack of window treatments in the kitchen can encourage your clients to spend more time cooking up food!

Marble countertops

marble countertops

There’s no doubt that marble countertops are naturally elegant and brighten up a kitchen, but polished marble countertops are susceptible to scratches and stains and are incredibly high maintenance. Within a week, clients can expect a dozen etchings on the countertop mapping exactly where they placed down their plate and where they spilled their wine.

Marble has had its heyday in the family home, but you can hardly call it an essential item now that are many other options in the market. Quartz has risen as the best contender to marble as it is resistant to everything marble isn’t—namely scratches, stains, and chemicals. It’s also the more economical option since it’s cheaper to purchase and requires little upkeep. If your clients want something more natural than quartz, spring for a granite countertop—just remind them to gloss over the counters with sealants occasionally.

Office desks

Bear with us here. Unless your client is living in a student dorm or in a cramped space, they shouldn’t have an office desk slotted into their bedroom, kitchen, living room—basically any room that’s not a home office.

In the ‘90s, it wasn’t uncommon to see a computer desk in the kitchen—this was also the space where you would check your voicemails and open letters. After disappearing in the early 2000s, this setup has seen a brief resurgence in the past few years. But will your clients really be buying stocks in the kitchen or doing their taxes in the bedroom? Now, it’s generally seen as better to keep every room distinct, each with its own function.

Lots of pillows

pillows in design essentials for interior decorating

Pillows can make great decorative pieces for the home if used correctly. They can add splashes of color, interesting textures, and, most importantly, they are a welcome sight after a long day at work. Decorators often use pillows to liven up a space if clients want their other, more permanent furnishings to have neutral or classic colors.

Decorative pillows are an interior decorator’s best friend, but if you have to throw all the pillows to the ground to sit comfortable, there’s one too many. After all, can it really be an “accent” piece if you overload on them?

Pillows are somewhat essential for the living room sofa, but a stack of uncomfortable sequined pillows is definitely unnecessary.

Have you spotted other decorating “essentials” that should be evicted? Let us know in the comments!

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Sizzorchik says:

    Although I agree with most of the “Window Treatment” section, I live in a house that is mirror image to the neighbors. Our kitchen windows face eachother, so some privacy is essential in this case. We have a white mesh style curtain that looks great, gives a good amount of privacy, and lets in plenty of light!

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