006. Tales of an Interior Designer

Jade McNeil Interiors
5 min readJan 29, 2024

5 Things I would never tell my clients to do

As a designer, I get asked for advice constantly from friends: what are the latest trends, what’s the best paint color, what do you think I should do here? (as they show me a picture of their living room). And while I’m happy to answer these questions for my friends, there’s a host of other things that I reluctantly will hold my tongue over because, well my mother always said “If you don’t have anything nice to say..” you know the rest. And it’s not always bad (to my friends who’ve asked me for advice, this is not an attack on your home), but there are ways I’ve learned to tweak and shift things around a room to take it to the next level. So let’s get into it!

5 things I would never tell my clients to do as an interior designer:

1. Skip the window treatments. Not having window treatments in our homes is like not wearing a coat in the wintertime. Without it, we’d be wandering outside in the cold. Window treatments add an extra layer of softness and warmth to complete a space. Without them, a space feels naked and cold. Window treatments can be done in so many different ways — drapes, Roman shades, sheer, blackout — or in a layered combination. If your space is missing that finishing touch, this is your sign try window treatments. Trust me you won’t regret it.

Designed by Jade McNeil Interiors
Designed by Jade McNeil Interiors

2. Buy a rug that the furniture doesn’t sit on. Area rugs can be a beautiful addition to our spaces when done right. They act as an anchor to direct the eye on where an area starts and stops (this is especially important in an open floor plan). Using an area rug that’s too small can leave our spaces feeling unbalanced and give our furniture the illusion that it’s floating. Area rugs are meant to define an area and tell us where a space starts and stops, where a walking path is from one space to the next, and add visual interest. They can also add a layer of artwork to an otherwise bland floor.

Designed by Durietz Design
Designed by Cara Woodhouse

3. Layout a space around the tv. While we might have something entertaining on (some of us at all times), the tv is hardly the prettiest thing to look at in a space. I guarantee there are a hundred more interesting things we can design around as a feature of the space. Sure, there are tv’s out there now that can be disguised as art or a mirror, but every room either has a beautiful architectural feature waiting to be highlighted or a blank space waiting to be transformed as the anchor (like beautiful windows or gorgeous art). Where possible, I like to create conversation pits with furniture arrangements. When we’re hosting, having everyone sitting in a line facing the tv isn’t the best arrangement for everyone to participate in a conversation together. In your living room, try adding a chair or chaise that faces opposite from the other seating in the room rather than having everything aimed at the tv.

Styled and photographed by Dabito.
Designed by Ore Studio

4. Paint a room without testing the color first. With thousands of paint colors to choose from, it can be difficult to choose just one color. I always recommend testing it first in the actual room you’re looking to paint. There’s a reason there are so many colors. They all have different undertones and hues that can change based on the time of day, the tint on our windows, the type of lighting in our spaces, and other furnishings and materials in the space. I suggest painting a 1’ x 1’ swatch on a couple of walls in the space and letting it sit for a day or 2, so you can see it during different times of the day under different lighting. This foolproof method allows us to make sure it works with our furnishing selections and existing materials.

Photo courtesy of Cobb Brothers Company, Inc

5. Hang the TV too high. Our tv should have a relation to the furnishings around it and be at a comfortable viewing height when we’re sitting down. And who wants to break their neck trying to watch a TV that’s almost at the ceiling? (Hint: If your tv is tilted down for better viewing, it’s probably hung too high). The proper height to hang your TV is typically between 42” — 56” on center. For example, you decide the proper height is 52” on center, so you want to hang your TV 52” from the center of the TV to the bottom of the floor. Generally, our tv should be hung at eye level from the sitting point. The larger the TV, the higher it goes. Of course, if we have a piece of furniture under the tv we may need to adjust, but it should still sit about 12” — 14” from the bottom of the tv to the top of the piece of furniture.

Designed by Jade McNeil Interiors
Designed by Ali Budd

I’ve learned the biggest things that actually make the design are the small details. By making small adjustments and changes (like some of the ones listed here), we move closer to creating a space that feels intentional, balanced, and well designed.

Which tip are you trying first?

Talk soon,

Xx Jade

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Jade McNeil Interiors

Jade McNeil Interiors is an interior design firm. JMI designs soulful modern interiors by bridging nature with modern day life to create timeless designs.