Things an Interior Designer of 40+ Years Would Never Have in His Home



  • Interior designer Vicente Wolf shared which decor items he’d never have at home.
  • Fluorescent lights are not only harsh on the eyes but wreak havoc on decor colors.
  • He recommended swapping out reproduction prints for original art and fake fireplaces for real ones.

When designing your space, it’s essential to choose the right pieces— but deciding what not to bring into your home can be just as important. 

Insider asked Vicente Wolf, an interior designer with over 40 years of experience and principal designer of Vicente Wolf Associates, to share the things he’d never have in his own home.

Mass-produced decor pieces are a missed opportunity for home design

According to Wolf, mass-produced decor pieces in one’s home are the opposite of sophistication.

“I like my home, and those of my clients to be an expression of how they live and who they are,” Wolf said. 

There is always a way to have a home that is personal with elements that are special and meaningful while staying within your budget, he said. For example, try looking for discounted secondhand pieces that are unique and well-made.

Coffee tables serve a real purpose in homes, so Wolf avoids small ones

gray living room with panels and small coffee table

Small coffee tables aren’t always super functional.

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“Coffee tables offer people a place to put things down – even your feet, should you choose to,” he told Insider.

A generously sized coffee table is especially necessary if you don’t have end tables or other conveniently located ones, Wolf added.

Plastic flowers are drab and have the same look year-round

According to feng shui, every room should include something living. Plants are the perfect example of this, as they promote wellness and growth. 

Therefore, Wolf avoids plastic flowers in his home designs.Plus fake plants are lifeless and don’t change.

“I like the evolution of real flowers,” Wolf told Insider. “There is a joy in seeing things grow.”

Fluorescent lights can be harsh on the eyes and wreak havoc on decor colors

Though fluorescent bulbs are energy efficient than incandescent ones, Wolf would never want them in his space. 

“They are way too harsh for the eyes, and wreak havoc on the colors in the decor,” he told Insider. “Plus they are a disaster for skin tones.”

Wolf recommends staying away from matchy-matchy bedroom sets

matching furniture set

Matching bedroom sets are easy to get, but they don’t always look very good.

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Bedroom sets may be a one-stop way to decorate a bedroom, but they lack originality, according to Wolf.

“In my opinion, they also look dated, as society has moved toward a more relaxed vision of home styling,” Wolf told Insider. “Coordinating pieces that work together is so much more fun – and alluring – but do take an extra bit of thought.”

You won’t find the wrong-sized curtains in Wolf’s space

According to the designer, having curtains that hang above the floor is akin to wearing clothing that doesn’t fit properly.

“Drapes should either touch the floor, puddle a 1/2 inch to an inch, 2 to 4 inches or in more traditional settings, or puddle up to a foot,” Wolf told Insider.

The designer replaces synthetic napkins for cloth ones

Although paper or synthetic napkins are easier to clean up, Wolf told Insider that it’s best to opt for cloth ones if you want a more sophisticated look. Cloth napkins are not wonderful for entertaining guests and are a personal luxury to use in everyday life.

“Whatever you do, buy cotton napkins that have some absorbency,” Wolf said. “You have to be able to wipe grease off your face properly.”

He avoids reproduction art when designing his or his clients’ homes

“You can find an original that won’t break the bank,” Wolf told Insider. “Even if it’s a black-and-white photo of a picture you’ve taken. In a beautiful frame, most everything will work beautifully.” 

There’s also something special and authentic about having a personal relationship with authentic art in your home, he added.

Fake fireplaces don’t offer the same feel as a real one

round mirror and white faux fireplace in room

Fireplaces that require real wood are the best for this designer.

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Wolf said electric inserts can’t even come close to the look and feel of a real fireplace. Plus, he said, they’re tacky, making them a definite no for his home. 

“If you must, a gas-powered fireplace is acceptable, but there is nothing like the real thing with real logs,” said. “So, if it doesn’t light, I don’t want it.”

Televisions that retract into the footboard of the bed are a thing of the past

Wolf isn’t against having a television in the bedroom, but he avoids those designed to retract in and out of a bed’s footboard. 

“Instead, I always have a flat-screen on the opposite wall,” Wolf told Insider. “And if you don’t like the way it looks, you can use an app service to display a family photo or art.”

He said furniture with visible branding is tacky

Wolf also avoids displaying labeled or branded furniture in his home. 

“It’s just tasteless,” Wolf said. “Why do I want to give a company free advertising?”



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