This is one of the most common mistakes I make and encounter. Confusing Nice for Good.
Although specifically related to design in this post, the idea can apply to anything: Doctors, Lawyers (well, that would imply that there are Nice lawyers), Mechanics, Dentists, you name it. Nice does NOT equal Good. Nice equals Nice.
Nice can refer to disposition. Pleasant, kind, thoughtful, courteous, etc.
Nice can also refer to products or process. This is best exemplified by any show on HGTV or just a cruise through your local suburbia. Granite countertops are Nice. Stainless steel appliances are Nice. Stone facade, wood floors, “landscaping”, “yard”, light fixtures. All Nice.
Good involves context. Good means a proven track record and competence (in both design and those “other” professions). Good means that the pieces contribute to the whole, and that each decision is carefully thought out with Good in mind.
This is why buildings designed by the great architects don’t need “updating”. Also why gardens and urban plazas designed by the masters of landscape architecture don’t go out of style (assuming proper maintenance of course).
Nice, in design, is a reflection of what the item or material says about us. Stainless steel and granite countertops (which can be Good) tell visitors that we are stylish, middle-class Americans.
Good, however, reflects style, caring, and perhaps sophistication. Because it isn’t the norm, it can be criticized and potentially called Weird.
Good is also (generally) more expensive than Nice, because anyone can do Nice. It takes talent and hard work to create Good.
Perfect is unattainable, but striving for Great is worthwhile. In your search for Great, don’t settle for Nice. Make Good.