Don’t be afraid to break the rules every once in a while

When designing the layout, color palette, and décor for a room (or house), most interior design professionals have rules about size, scale, color, style, lighting, textures & patterns – that they follow and recommend in order to create pleasing, attractive rooms.

But not all design rules are engraved in stone. While having rules helps you if you’re feeling out of your depth, they can also be constraining if you want to try something different. A recent Houzz article discusses a couple of design rules that are just begging to be broken!

Design Rules to Break

  1. Use quiet colors in small spaces

If you love bright or deep colors, don’t be shy about using them even in compact spaces. The life and energy they give will be worth the visual shrinkage of the room. Plus, using a deep neutral shade for the walls (which will recede) with bright items (which will advance) creates a sense of depth that can actually make a room feel bigger.

  1. You can only use tile in the kitchen and bath.

Who says? Take a look at homes in Spain and Portugal. They use beautiful tiles everywhere! Tile can make a dramatic wall treatment that provides interesting and unexpected texture anywhere. If you use tiles in a bedroom or family room, balance out the hard surface with extra textiles, such as curtains, plush rugs or piled-on pillows.

  1. Kitchens demand tile walls.

If you’re adding tile to bedroom walls, why not consider using other materials in the kitchen? Wallpaper is perfectly charming in a kitchen, and it helps to keep the kitchen feeling like a true part of the home rather than a strictly functional space.

  1. Kitchens should be neat and tidy.
    Although the clean-white kitchen is a popular look, it can also be a bit cold and sterile. Kitchens can be perfectly clean without having everything hidden behind cabinet doors. Try open shelving for a sense of controlled disarray. It also lets your pots, pans and other supplies become part of the decor.
  1. Bedrooms should be symmetrical to be serene.
    Matching furniture sets with paired side tables flanking the headboard are BORING! You can create a blissful bedroom by mixing it up a bit. Use a chair or stool for a nightstand, or even a chest which can provide extra storage. Some mismatched lamps add visual interest and variety. 
  1. The chairs in a grown-up dining room have to match.
    While some people associate mismatched furniture with their college dorm or their ratty first apartment, mixing and matching seats is a look for grown-ups too. Mix to add personality, interest or to create a conversation starter. Plus, you get to include old favorites along with new additions to your collection.
  1. Art should be hung at eye level.
    Hanging art at eye level is a safe bet. But art doesn’t have to be safe, or even hung at all. Leaning frames and canvases on the floor creates a “studio” vibe. Go ahead and display pieces the way they feel right.

Myers Barnes is America’s favorite new home sales trainer, author, speaker and consultant.  For more information, please visit

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