We all have that one thing that peeves us beyond belief. For some, it is use of the word moist. For others, it is loud chewers. For the designer with a well-trained eye, it is improper lighting, cheap brick and discontinued items. Find out what exactly irks 14 local designers in architecture and building and interiors. The list ranges from design elements to behind-the-scenes challenges that designers face. Are these things cringeworthy for you? Read on to find out.

Pet Peeve: Designing without clear understanding of cost

Designer: Ridley Wills, The Wills Company and Wills Handyman

“Creative design and a clear budget go hand in hand.”

Pet Peeve: Improper lighting

Designer: Ashley Meier, Ashley Meier Linens | Interiors

“I love natural light but even in homes with wonderful natural lighting, adequate lighting and layered lighting are a must.”

Designer: Beth Haley, Beth Haley Design

“The design pet peeve that stands out to me is improper lighting, specifically vanity sconces. The best bathroom vanity lighting is at either side of the face, giving a soft, even look with no shadows.”

This is how vanity sconces should be placed! Image: Jerry Atnip

Pet Peeve: Not being involved in a project before plans are finalized

Designer: Mark Simmons, Mark Simmons Interiors

“Most ‘issues’ with flow and furniture placement are minor changes in planning stages but major after construction.”

Pet Peeve: Copycats

Designer: Rachel Haag, Castle Homes

“A client wanting to apply a design just because someone else they know has the same thing.”

Your space should reflect you! Image: Reed Brown Photography

Pet Peeve: Not getting the lighting right

Designer: Roger Higgins, R. Higgins Interiors

“A beautiful design can be completely ruined by bad lighting. Get the right bulbs for each fixture — whether it’s a lamp, chandelier, recessed can, accent lighting on artwork or lighting on architectural features. Everything should be on a dimmer.”

Pet Peeve: Design that isn’t functional

Designer: Mari-Kate Hopper, Van Mol Restoration

“Inadequate lighting and no place to put your drink are pet peeves. Design must be functional!”

Pet Peeve: Lack of confidence

Designer: Heather Looney, Castle Homes

“Do not ask your friends what they think. They are not designers and even if they are, they did not just spend two months, or two years, finding the perfect hinge finish for your second child’s bathroom vanity and do not know the budgets you have set. The culprit may have remodeled a kitchen in 2002 or even last year, but that is not apples-to-apples comparison. Have faith and don’t second guess what we have designed together as a team. We are on your side building the home of your dreams, controlling costs and delivering your beautiful new home on time and in budget. Stop asking outside opinions that create changes and drive up costs! Communication is the key.”

Pet Peeve: Discontinued items (and paint colors)

Designer: Sara Ray, Sara Ray Interior Design

“One of our biggest pet peeves is going through the selections process with a client, finally finding the perfect piece of furniture or fabric or hardware, placing the order, and finding out it’s been discontinued or is on eternal backorder. It’s hard to start that process up again once you’ve fallen in love with something!

“A minor pet peeve, but a real one, is when the paint companies change out their offerings or change color names/numbers. The struggle is real! All of the designers here carry paint decks around in their cars and bags — we’re always ready to select! When a favorite color is discontinued, there’s definitely a mourning period.”

When you find that perfect piece, you just gotta have it! Image: Alyssa Rosenheck

Pet Peeve: Cheap brick

Designer: Michael Ward, Allard Ward Architects, LLC

“Real brick is making a comeback. Everyone seems to be growing tired of siding and painted brick. I am not a fan of oddly sized Queen brick, or ‘fake’ tumbled or flashed brick. They can take on a very cartoonish appearance and they are difficult to detail properly.

“We love to use old fashion modular size bricks as much as possible. I prefer brick that expresses the natural clay used to make that particular brick. Different techniques in molding and firing create very different and interesting looks. Brick is basically a ceramic skin for your building. It will last a lifetime, so choose wisely and appreciate it for all of its amazing natural qualities.”

Pet Peeve: Change orders

Designer: Mark Holliday, Trace Ventures

“From a construction design/build perspective, a pet peeve here at Trace is change orders. We know sometimes they are unavoidable but trust us, we hate surprises as much as our clients do. Typically, our discovery of on-site change orders will only disrupt our schedule and require us to rearrange our resources. Our goal is to make sure we know as much upfront as possible so we can provide our clients with a firm understanding of cost and outcome before we even start digging.

“Change orders wouldn’t necessarily be a factor in an interior designers world, but in ours, they occur pretty frequently — older homes with issues hidden in the walls we can’t see initially, and sometimes just a client’s idea changes (which we understand). We just have to set the understanding and expectation that small changes can factor into a project more than the client may realize.”

Pet Peeve: Trusting trends

Designers: Kayley McIntosh and Joy Laughlin Huber, Castle Homes

“Collectively, our designer’s pet peeves have to do with the indecisiveness of homeowners because of the overflow of information on the newest trendy products available to them. As designers, we have used many of these products and are aware of the pro and cons they offer. We have formed opinions through trial and error that we relay to our homeowners in order to hopefully eliminate some of the confusion and indecisiveness.”

Pet Peeve: Thinking more is more

Designer: Ridley Wills, The Wills Company and Wills Handyman

“More is not always the solution. Great design is as much about editing as it is about adding.”

Image: The Wills Co.

Pet Peeve: Imitative design

Designer: Derek Van Mol, Van Mol Restoration

“Design just can’t be plucked from social media or a magazine and inserted into your space. Every design is different and should be shaped around the client’s lifestyle.”

Pet Peeve: Harsh overhead lighting

Designer: Kathleen Evers, K. Evers Interiors

“No one looks good or feels comfortable in a room when there’s no ambient lighting. Lamps, pendants, under-cabinet and cove lighting should be spaced thoughtfully throughout a room to create a relaxing mood. Dimmers should always be used for chandeliers and recessed cans in the main living and dining areas. Otherwise, you may feel like you’ve stepped into a hospital waiting room! Fluorescent fixtures also make me crazy!”

Pet Peeve: Products that look “good”

Designer: Ridley Wills, The Wills Company and Wills Handyman

“Acceptance of inferior materials and/or installation methods as long as the product looks ‘good.’ In the end, the homeowner pays the price.”

Don’t settle for good. Wills Company was responsible for the architectural design and build on this dream kitchen! Read more about the project here. Image: Alyssa Rosenheck

Now you know what gets under a designer’s skin! Find more designer tips and inspiration here.

About the Author
Alex Hendrickson

Alex is a Southern writer known for hunting down delicious stories and traveling the world with hunger. Her passions and interests lie in food, travel, interior design and inspiring people, and her dream is to eat a dozen oysters a day.