Dream decor that just doesn’t work

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"If it's crisp, pristine white you're in love with, you should know it is one relationship not likely to last." Picture: Mujahid Safodien

Any fully-fledged magazine junkie or Home Channel aficionado could be forgiven for being besotted with but also jaded about the true possibilities of home décor.

However, that glossy mag picture you’ve cut out and been clutching on to might never manifest in your living room – a realisation worth arriving at long before you design the whole room around it.

Case in point – remodelling a bathroom, moving plumbing, fixture and going through the hassle of retiling, just so that when you open the door the first thing you see is a beautiful Victorian-style, free-standing tub with a stunning chandelier just above it – only to find out at the very end of it all that your electrician will not (and should not) install the pièce de résistance chandelier.

You might well have seen it a thousand times in mags, on TV, in the showroom for heaven’s sake, but the reality is – an exposed bulb could explode owing to the moisture present in a bathroom. No electrician afraid of getting his licence revoked would install any such fixture in a bathroom.

“Down-lights for you,” says Ivan Somiah, manager at Zebbies Lighting in Springfield. “These and closed, circular fluorescents are acceptable in bathrooms.”

It gets worse, but then it depends just how jaded you are.

The beach-house look is big this year. Coastal homes and upmarket seaside flats will lend themselves nicely to the look, characterised by crisp white couches.

“White furniture says I have someone who cleans up after me. It’s a modern-day status system, like silver was in the old days. The truth is if crisp white is what you must have, be prepared to only have it for a short while,” says Sian Steyn, marketing manager of Decorex SA.

“Rather opt for removable covers in white. They will develop that charming old-world look in time. But if it’s crisp, pristine white you’re in love with, you should know it is one relationship not likely to last.”

Steyn is kinder to the décor dreamer when she says that art, on the other hand, once considered elitist, is accessible today.

“Buying student art and handmade pieces are ways in which you can include art in your home, without the perceived expense. Another trend you might have seen and not believed is wooden flooring in the kitchen. Not noisy laminates, but real wood is soft on the feet and works well in the kitchen – proof that not all lofty ideas are so,” says Steyn.

However, she warns against trend buys.

Some things are so “in” that the desire to create the look is too strong to ignore. Like fleece carpets, that once home float around on the floor – dangerously so.

“Accept that some things only live through the lens and items like carpets and rugs must ultimately be steady for the practical needs of a household.” She adds that antiques must be bought with a warranty and certificate.

Interior designer Jennifer Jones saysall galvanising should come with a guarantee as well.

“Buy high-quality goods if you expect them to last. There are many items out there that look like the high-end, designer product you might have seen in a mag, but don’t have the durability.”

Mind you, says fashion designer Kathrin Kidger, you can always shop around. “Don’t rush off to buy something you see as and from where it is listed. Often, there are other suppliers and you could get that clock or cushion at a better price,” she says.

Kidger says her pet hate is when a rare, vintage piece from an eclectic little shop is featured and you fall in love with it, only to find that you can’t get your hands on it, and, because it is unique, you can’t find anything similar, either.

Jones says another misleading thing about the world of digital décor is colour on linen. “Beware of coloured bed linen. They look great in the pictures that entice you to buy them, but colours fade in the wash and can look worn out very quickly. Those with embroidery can’t be bleached.

“I prefer to buy good-quality white linen that has longevity. If you must use prints and colour do it in a child’s room, because you would replace those sooner anyway.”

She says recent décor has been dominated by wallpaper.

“In the old days, our folks bought and put up wallpaper themselves. I wouldn’t advise anyone to take this on as a DIY project. From experience, I can tell you it is very difficult.

“Know also that fabric, for drapes especially, can shrink, move or be damaged by the sun. When buying ready-made curtains, be careful of cheap and nasty lining, the Durban sun will eat it up in no time.”

An Afrigran technical sales member says when it comes to working kitchens, marble is not ideal.

Many clients see marble in UK kitchen mags and request it. However, marble stains easily and is not very durable. The polished edge of a marble counter top can chip and is not easily fixed. Marble is also more porous that granite for instance and will suck up water, changing its shade.

The moral of the story?

Innovations aside, when you are decorating your home, put practicality first. - The Mercury

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