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Vertical blinds

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Few interior design choices scream “office” or “hospital” more than vertical blinds. Ugly and utilitarian in the extreme, there’s almost never a good reason to instal them. Horizontal blinds are no more expensive and have a much softer look that’s far more appropriate for a home.

Harsh lighting

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Harsh lighting, especially harsh overhead lighting can give a home an industrial or municipal feel. It’s also not conducive to relaxing. Try a mixture of side lights, wall sconces and even fairy lights instead. If overhead lighting is a must, why not consider choosing yellow-toned bulbs rather than harsh white.

Cluttered closets

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If your closet is overfull, you’ll find it hard to see what’s in there. There’s also a fair chance that a cluttered closet deters you from putting clean laundry away – leading to piles of clothes around your bedroom. A comprehensive closet clean-out and some new storage solutions (tiered hangers, vacuum storage bags for out-of-season clothes, and so on) can be revolutionary.

Peeling laminate worktops

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If replacing your peeling laminate worktops isn’t in the budget right now, that doesn’t mean you just have to put up with it. Sticky-back countertop paper is a great possible solution. Hardwearing and easy to apply, you can buy it in a variety of finishes, including marble-effect and wood-effect.

Faded wooden furniture

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Good furniture is often expensive and may also have sentimental value. Sometimes a few scuffs and scratches give it additional character but fading – often caused by the sun – is a different matter. Luckily, you can buy special polishes that not only rejuvenate your tired furniture but also help protect it against future sun damage.

Rooms that don’t “flow”

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If you’re not up for knocking walls down, it can be hard to see what to do about rooms that don’t flow. However, why not look at what each room is used for. Sometimes switching a dining room with, for instance, a living room can improve the flow. Alternatively, think about using paint colors and other decorative features to give the rooms a unifying theme.


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Although it’s practical and hardwearing, pebbledashing is definitely not to everyone’s taste. It can also ruin the look and appeal of a home, particularly a period property. Consequently, think hard before choosing pebbledashing, especially if you plan to sell your home in the near future.

Loose cables and wires

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The modern-day home is frequently a tangle of cables and wires. Although they’re very necessary, you don’t want them becoming a design feature in their own right. Consequently, make use of cable ties and tidies to ensure they’re not a trip hazard and, as far as possible, are hidden from view.

No rugs

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Hard floors are a practical and elegant choice. That said, most homes with predominately hard floors benefit from the softening feature of the occasional rug. Of course, rugs won’t work on every hard surface or in every space. However, bedrooms and living rooms frequently benefit – and don’t forget to think about using rugs to break up large floor spaces.

No curb appeal

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A beautiful interior needs an exterior to match – or at least one with some curb appeal. Make sure driveways and paths are well-maintained, weeded and jet-washed. Think about softening your home’s exterior with seasonal planting. Carefully-chosen outdoor lights and door colors and furniture (knockers etc) are also important. Finally, wherever possible, don’t forget to move garbage bins out of direct sight.

Bare wall behind your stove

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A suitable splash-back is an essential for anyone who cooks. And, what’s more it needs to be a splash-back that’s easy to keep clean and, ideally, looks good. A bare wall not only won’t do the necessary job, it also won’t look appealing. Think about mosaic tiles, colored glass or granite as potential options to brighten up this important section of wall.

Trash bins

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Unless you have a waste disposal unit that takes everything, trash bins obviously aren’t an optional extra. Ideally, you’ll put them out of sight but it isn’t always possible. However, you can make a feature out of even the most utilitarian item – and trash bins are no exception. Look for sleek, futuristic designs that operate with the touch of a foot pedal.

Streaky glass

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Whether it’s a window, a mirror, a glass door or some other mirrored surface, glass attracts streaks and dirt. Cleaning it off is a nuisance and can be time-consuming. However, it’s essential if your home is to look its best. Proprietary window-cleaning solutions are one option or make your own using two parts water to one part white vinegar.

Bare walls

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While you may not appreciate the gallery-look, large expanses of bare wall can look unappealing and unwelcome. Consider breaking up such big empty spaces with a mirror, a picture or two, a seasonal garland, or even a string of fairy lights. You can also use well-chosen paint colors and wallpaper to give interest and life to your walls.

Dirty stove top

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Cleaning the stove top must rank as one of the least-appealing jobs in any house. However, leaving it is worse. A greasy stove top that’s stippled with caked-on food makes a whole room seem dirty and unappealing. In general, the best time to clean a stove top is before it’s completely cooled as this is when it’s easiest to wipe off spillages.

Water stained surfaces

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Water stains from cups, mugs and glasses can easily damage surfaces throughout your home. It might seem like a small thing but those tacky, sticky or shiny rings help give the place an unloved and uncared-for appearance. Rather than attempt to remedy the damage after it’s occurred, try to keep coasters readily available on appropriate surfaces.

Disorganized pots and pans

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Pots and pans are tricky to store and readily become a hard-to-disentangle jumble. To avoid this, you can buy rotating organizers that easily fit inside a kitchen cabinet. Alternatively, why not make a feature of some of your pans by hanging them from the ceiling on a special rack? This is particularly effective if you have attractive, copper pans.

Purses and coats draped over furniture

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Does your home regularly feature coats draped over chair backs and purses left on kitchen counters or living room end tables? Sometimes this is laziness but sometimes it’s down to a lack of suitable storage solutions. An elegant coat stand is a good solution that doesn’t take up much floor space.

Grimy tile grout

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Tile grouting easily gets dirty. Sometimes it also turns mouldy – a more serious problem. Not dealing with grubby grouting is a shortcut to a very unappealing bathroom. Stay on top of your grouting by cleaning it regularly. Two parts baking soda with one part white vinegar, applied with an old toothbrush, is surprisingly effective.

Dusty lightshades and ceiling fans

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Dusty lightshades are ugly but dusty ceiling fans are even worse. Not only are they ugly, they’ll shed dusty particles whenever they’re switched on. A feather duster or damp cloth is effective on most lightshades. The same methods also work on ceiling fans or you can buy dusters specifically designed to clean them with minimal fuss.

Piles of laundry

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Not many people enjoy doing the laundry. However, letting it build up is a surefire way to make your home seem ugly and unappealing. Try to institute a laundry system – and ensure everyone in your home plays their part. Laundry hampers are a must, and you may find it helpful to have separate ones for whites and darks.

Unwanted odors

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Creating a pleasant and appealing home isn’t all about how it looks. Bad smells are a real turnoff. Cooking, pets, wet laundry, and bathroom smells can all play a part in making your home a nose-wrinkling place. Regular cleaning is a must but so too is making use of extractor fans, opening windows and, whenever possible, drying laundry outside or in a dedicated laundry room.

Crooked pictures

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Your walls might be covered with beautiful artwork but if the frames are crooked, the pictures won’t look their best. Indeed, wonky pictures can easily make a home look as if no one cares for it. Use a spirit level when putting up new pictures and, because it’s easy to knock a frame, periodically take time to check that they’re all straight.

Nail holes

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A wall pockmarked with empty nail holes is an unlovely thing. It might seem a hassle but it’s a relatively easy fix to fill these holes with spackle or another similar putty. However, do make sure you sand it down once dry and, ideally, repaint to match the surrounding surface. As an alternative, you could always use the hole to put up a new picture.

Peeling window frames

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When well cared-for, wooden window frames are beautiful and can really enhance the period charm of a property. Inevitably, however, they also require a certain amount of maintenance. Window frames that get a lot of sun or salty sea air may require more regular attention.

Stained carpets

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Whether it’s dirt from shoes, red wine, ink, food spillages or a not-quite housetrained pet, your carpets are always under pressure. Keeping them clean and odor-free can be hard but is essential if your home is to stay fresh and welcoming. Home cleaning usually suffices but, once every six months or so, it’s useful to book a professional clean.

Dark hallways

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Hallways often suffer from a lack of natural light. If this describes your hallway, take extra care to keep it clean and tidy. Lamps and strings of lights can add much needed illumination or you could opt for dark paint colors and dramatic wallpaper to make a feature of the lack of natural light.

Outdated door furniture

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By “door furniture”, we mean a knocker, doorbell, the keyhole surrounds and, where there’s no freestanding mailbox, a letterbox. Choosing fittings that compliment your door can really help enhance both the door itself and the exterior appeal of the entire property. For instance, a Victorian property might suit a brass door fittings.

Scratched floors

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A parquet or other hardwood floor looks great when newly installed and freshly polished. However, as time passes, even cleaning and polishing isn’t enough to keep the floor looking its best. Inevitably, floors get scratched and scuffed and, ultimately, they may need re-sanding and refinishing.

No storage for keys or mail

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Hallways and living spaces easily become cluttered with everyday items. Keys and mail are two of the chief culprits. Keys obviously need to remain close to hand but that doesn’t mean you can’t find an elegant storage solution. Key hooks or organizers are very useful – especially if you choose one that also includes a rack or basket for mail.

Pet beds

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If you have a pet, it obviously needs somewhere to sleep. However, pet beds can be unsightly and are frequently whiffy. Make sure your pet’s bed is cleaned and deodorized regularly. Obviously, you’ll want to choose a bed that is easy to clean but do also try to choose something with some aesthetic appeal.

Chipped paint

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Chipped paintwork does a house no favors. Even if the rest of the place is immaculate, that chipped paintwork tells visitors that the owners don’t care enough to fix it. Minor chips don’t require a complete repaint. Instead, you can buy paint pens in colors that (hopefully!) match your chipped paintwork.

Limescale on taps, sinks and shower stalls

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Unavoidable in hard water areas, limescale is unsightly. It also requires constant cleaning. Proprietary cleaners can work well or you could try a homemade solution of white vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda. Additionally, it really helps if you remember to wipe down and dry surfaces after use.

Cluttered pantry

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If a pantry is cluttered, it’s hard to see what’s in it – and whether it’s still good to eat. A cluttered pantry may also be more vulnerable to infestations of vermin. Consequently, keeping your pantry clean, tidy and well-organized has practical as well as aesthetic benefits. Try buying clear storage containers and labelling them for ease of use.

Overgrown hedges and lawns

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Your neighborhood might have rules about garden and yard maintenance. However if doesn’t – or perhaps even if it does – it can be easy to let your bushes, trees and grass get that bit too luxuriant. At first, it might look attractively wild but, soon enough, people will avoid walking past for fear of what might be lurking within.

Unmade beds

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If your bed isn’t made, your bedroom won’t look inviting. True, perhaps you’re the only person who’s going to see it but a tidy bedroom is a welcoming bedroom – and don’t you deserve that? Although it can be easy to overlook in a busy morning, try to let your bed air when you get up and then make it an hour or so later.

Cramped home office

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Not everyone who works from home benefits from a well-appointed, dedicated home office. If you’re having to work from a multipurpose space, it’s easy to end up with a messy-looking home that doesn’t quite fulfil any of its desired functions. Look for reasonably-priced office furnishing solutions to help with the problem. For instance, a fold-away desk could make all the difference.

Kitty litter

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If you have a cat, chances are that you also have a kitty litter box. However, this doesn’t mean that you need to put up with the associated mess and smells. First of all, try to put the litter box in an out-of-the-way place where visitors are unlikely to come across it. Secondly, choose a box with a lid to help contain smells errant litter.

Broken blinds

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Unlike curtains, blinds have a tendency to break. Not fixing a broken blind ought to be one of the biggest house no-nos – especially if you’re concerned about avoiding an ugly-looking home. A broken blind is not only unattractive, it also implies that you don’t care enough about your home to fix it.

Cluttered bathtubs

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Shampoos, conditioners, body washes, loofahs, sponges, even tealights in glass holders: the average bathtub needs to contain a lot more than a few gallons of water. If your bathtub clutter is getting out of hand, try to be ruthless in getting rid of unnecessary stuff. Next, invest in suitable storage to store the rest. Shower caddies, shelving, and freestanding drawers can all be useful.