There is no doubt that rules can make us feel safe and secure. For most, they allow an imaginary line to be drawn that lets us stay on the side of “right” and “acceptable”. Rules guide us and reaffirm that we are on the right path. What they don’t do is allow us to develop our instincts. They can rob us of our creativity. At their worst, they tell us that we are not capable of developing our own ideas of what is acceptable. Nonetheless, we must know the rules before we can break them.
Interior design is a highly visual and highly subjective medium. Therefore, one can without any “eye” for design, determine whether a room looks stylish and successfully put together. The success or lack thereof, lies in the eyes of the beholder.
While I believe that there are some rules that keep one from making the most egregious design mistakes, there are others that are no longer relevant. Here are a few design rules that should be ignored:
- Only paint small rooms in light colors. This rule is the one that people have the hardest time ignoring. I understand people’s hesitation. It seems counter-intuitive to think that a dark color would visually expand a small space; however, it does. A dark painted room can actually make a small room look larger because it allows the corners of a room to recede and disappear.
Below, is an image that illustrates this concept.
When painting a small room dark, opt for minimal or no window treatments. The strategic use of mirrors will also double the size of the room.
2. Large furniture should only be used in large rooms. Quite the contrary; I always recommend using large-scale furniture in a small room. Using larger furniture tricks the eyes’ sense of proportion. In addition to this, it causes one’s eyes to move around the room less. This allows us to take a zoomed out view of the room. It is an optical illusion that really works.
3. You can not mix modern design elements with traditional design elements. Quite simply, yes you can; it is called transitional design! You can mix rustic with modern, country with modern etc…… Mixing styles adds depth to any space.
Mixing period design such as art deco, Victorian, or mid-century modern is harder to do, but can be done. Below is a modern and Victorian mix……this is really well done!!
4. If the room has a fireplace, it should always be the focal point. While it is true that a fireplace can make a beautiful focal point, it does not always need to be the star of the room. If one’s home has access to a breathtaking view, or one should possess museum quality art, both would supersede the fireplace’s status in that space.
The designer above smartly made the view the star of this room. The lack of window treatments allows the window molding to “frame” this home’s gorgeous view.
5. The ceiling must always be white. The ceiling is a room’s fifth (and forgotten) wall. The ceiling is an opportunity to showcase your style. I love to paint children’s room ceilings a contrasting color, and wallpaper the ceiling of a powder room or master bedroom closet.
The family room below makes the ceiling a focal point by adding coffered molding and using a deep gray to showcase this detail. This look is always a show-stopper! Add a metallic ceiling to a dining room, or a gold flecked paper to your powder room. Don’t be afraid to try it. If it’s not for you, a few swipes of white paint and you are back to where you started.
My bonus rule that should be ignored:
6. Interior doors should always be painted white. There is nothing more chic than a black high-gloss interior door. The French have been doing this for decades. A black high-gloss door is very dramatic and makes a statement; it is the exclamation point added to a room. It lets all those who enter know that those who reside on the other side of that beautifully glossy door, live a little North Of Chic 🙂
Hope you enjoyed this post! Thank you for reading!