The top interior design mistakes to avoid this year
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The top interior design mistakes to avoid this year

A top Sydney designer walks through the common mistakes homeowners make – and how to fix them

Tue, Jan 16, 2024 12:12pmGrey Clock 4 min

The days of white-on-white walls are fast disappearing, as we seek comfort and relaxation at home through a warm palette of colour and texture. But how to navigate the myriad options? Starting with where we get it wrong, Julia Green of Greenhouse Interiors sets the new rules for decorating through colour, calm and a little playfulness thrown in.

Using hero colours in isolation

Julia: A common mistake I see people make is not cohesively implementing their chosen hero colour throughout the space. Look at ways to unify hero colours so they aren’t standing alone without company, instead ensuring these hues are weaved through decorative objects and furniture. The most successful designs I have seen have managed to weave colour cohesively through their home like a well-made tapestry. The more subtle the tie-in is, the better!

Designer Julia Green of Greenhouse interiors used the Dulux Journey palette to breathe life into a sterile living space with warm pink tones punctuated by notes of deep plum in accessories.
BEFORE: The living space was in good order but lacked signs of life.

Using only neutral colours

Homeowners often select a neutral shade on their walls and stick to white for their ceilings and trims. The downside of this is that contrast trims on walls and ceilings can draw your eye from top to bottom, rather than allowing the eye to wander seamlessly. Instead, consider painting walls, trims and even ceilings in a single colour, to make the space feel more cohesive. That being said, contrasting pops of colour add balance which is equally important to the look and feel of any space. So, to avoid that floating feeling, ensure your room has an element of grounding through the addition of accent shades from your colour scheme through soft furnishings, textures, florals or artwork as an alternative to doors, ceilings or trims.

Julia’s most recent project used the colour, Dulux Lilac Light from the Dulux Colour Forecast 2024 Journey palette, on the walls, ceilings and trims.

Incorporating colour all at once

Another mistake people make is rushing to add colour throughout their home. Don’t feel pressured to do it all at once, start small and make measured, staggered choices. For a recent makeover I worked on in the Bellarine Peninsula, the walls were painted first in a neutral, greyed off pink shade – Dulux Lilac Light, from the 2024 Dulux Colour Forecast Journey palette – before any other choices were made. The clients lived with that for a few weeks to see how the light interacted with the colour throughout the day, before we approached the rest of the space and introduced bolder pops of colour from the palette to add layering and interest.

Designer Julia Grreen from Greenhouse Interiors says colour and pattern are key to creating inviting spaces.

Forgetting about mood

Colours evoke different moods, so it’s important to consider the look and feel you want to create in the space before landing on your hero colour. For example, I always opt for a calmer palette for the bedroom, as it is a place of rest. A living room on the other hand is where you spend much of your waking hours, so it’s good to liven it up! Pale pink is known for its calming effect – it’s gentle, easy to live with and can add warmth to a space, compared to an austere white shade. It’s also extremely versatile. The emotion it evokes can change completely depending on how it’s styled, which is why it’s a shade I like not only for living areas but also bedrooms.

The wooden dining table has been finished in Dulux Swedish Blue.

Selecting the wrong colour

Most homeowners are apprehensive of colour or they have concerns that colour may make their home feel too bold, which is why choosing the right colour is such a critical step in the design process. Incorporating colour is such an amazing opportunity to inject your own personality and story into the home, so I encourage it wherever possible. My biggest tip is to start with a neutral shade, to create a safe base that easily allows for the introduction of other colour and styling changes over time. If you’re new to using colour in your home, start small and make measured choices. Try living with colour, even if it’s a referenced cushion or decor object. The best thing about the 2024 Dulux Colour Forecast palettes is that all of the hard work is done for you. Their carefully considered palettes are designed to take the brain strain out of companion colours that work well, so when all else fails, look to the experts who have done the hard work for you – it’s foolproof.


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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The Lifespan of Large Appliances Is Shrinking

Appliance technicians blame a push toward computerisation and an increase in the quantity of components inside a machine

Thu, Feb 22, 2024 4 min

Our refrigerators, washing machines and ovens can do more than ever, from producing symmetrical ice cubes to remotely preheating on your commute home. The downside to all these snazzy features is that the appliances are more prone to breaking.

Appliance technicians and others in the industry say there has been an increase in items in need of repair. Yelp users, for example, requested 58% more quotes from thousands of appliance repair businesses last month than they did in January 2022.

Those in the industry blame a push toward computerisation, an increase in the quantity of individual components and flimsier materials for undercutting reliability. They say even higher-end items aren’t as durable.

American households spent 43% more on home appliances in 2023 than they did in 2013, rising from an inflation-adjusted average of $390 to $558, according to Euromonitor International. Prices for the category declined 12% from the beginning of 2013 through the end of 2023, according to the Labor Department.

One reason for the discrepancy between spending and prices is a higher rate of replacement, say consumers, repair technicians and others. That’s left some people wishing they had held on to their clunky ’90s-era appliances and others bargaining with repair workers over intractable ice makers and dryers that run cold.

“We’re making things more complicated, they’re harder to fix and more expensive to fix,” says Aaron Gianni, the founder of do-it-yourself home-repair app Plunjr.

Horror stories

Sharon J. Swan spent nearly $7,000 on a Bosch gas range and smart refrigerator. She thought the appliances would last at least through whenever she decided to sell her Alexandria, Va., home and impress would-be buyers.

That was before the oven caught fire the first time she tried the broiler, leading to a 911 call and hasty return. The ice-maker in the refrigerator, meanwhile, is now broken for the third time in under two years. Bosch covered the first two fridge fixes, but she says she’s on her own for the latest repair, totalling $250, plus parts.

“I feel like I wasted my money,” says the 65-year-old consultant for trade associations.

A Bosch spokeswoman said in an emailed statement that the company has been responsive to Swan’s concerns and will continue to work with her to resolve ongoing issues. “Bosch appliances are designed and manufactured to meet the highest quality standards, and they are built to last,” she said.

Kevin and Kellene Dinino wish they had held on to their white dishwasher from the ’90s that was still working great.

The sleeker $800 GE stainless steel interior dishwasher they purchased sprang a hidden leak within three years, causing more than $35,000 worth of damage to their San Diego kitchen.

Home insurance covered the claim, which included replacing the hardwood down to the subfloor and all their bottom cabinetry, but kicked the Dininos off their policy. The family also went without access to their kitchen for months.

“This was a $60 pump that was broken. What the hell happened?” says Kevin, 45, who runs a financial public-relations firm.

A GE Appliances spokeswoman said the company takes appliance issues seriously and works quickly to resolve them with consumers.

Increased complexity

Peel back the plastic on a modern refrigerator or washing machine and you’ll see a smattering of sensors and switches that its 10-year-old counterpart lacks. These extra components help ensure the appliance is using only the energy and water it needs for the job at hand, technicians say. With more parts, however, more tends to go wrong more quickly, they say.

Mansoor Soomro, a professor at Teesside University, a technical college in Middlesbrough, England, says home appliances are breaking down more often. He says that manufacturers used to rely mostly on straightforward mechanical parts (think an on/off switch that triggers a single lever). In the past decade or so, they’ve transitioned to relying more on sophisticated electrical and computerised parts (say, a touch screen that displays a dozen different sensor-controlled wash options).

When a complicated machine fails, technicians say they have a much harder time figuring out what went wrong. Even if the technician does diagnose the problem, consumers are often left with repairs that exceed half the cost of replacement, rendering the machine totalled.

“In the majority of cases, I would say buying a new one makes more economic sense than repairing it,” says Soomro, who spent seven years working at Siemens , including in the home-appliances division.

These machines are also now more likely to be made with plastic and aluminium rather than steel, Soomro says. High-efficiency motors and compressors, too, are likely to be lighter-duty, since they’re tasked with drawing less energy .

A spokeswoman for the Association for Home Appliance Manufacturers says the industry has “enhanced the safety, energy efficiency, capacity and performance of appliances while adding features and maintaining affordability and durability for purchasers.” She says data last updated in 2019 shows that the average life of an appliance has “not substantially shifted over the past two decades.”

When simpler is better

Kathryn Ryan and Kevin Sullivan needed a new sensor to fix their recently purchased $1,566 GE Unitized Spacemaker washer-dryer. GE wasn’t able to fix the sensor for months, so the couple paid a local technician $300 to get the machine working.

The repairman also offered them a suggestion: Avoid the sensor option and stick to timed dries.

“You should be able to use whatever function you please on a brand new appliance, ideally,” says Sullivan, a 32-year-old musician in Burbank, Calif.

More features might seem glamorous, Frontdoor virtual appliance tech Jim Zaccone says, but fewer is usually better.

“Consumers are wising up to the failures that are happening and going, ‘Do I really need my oven to preheat while I’m at the grocery store?’” jokes Zaccone, who has been in the appliance-repair business for 21 years.

He just replaced his own dishwasher and says he bought one with “the least bells and whistles.” He also opted for a mass-market brand with cheap and readily available parts. Most surprisingly, he chose a bottom-of-the-line model.

“Spending a lot of money on something doesn’t guarantee you more reliability,” says Zaccone.


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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