8 Rules To Break Now

When I'm looking for inspiration, I either travel or do the next-best-thing:  step into the pages of a home decor magazine (so much more engaging and relaxing than viewing on a screen).  Today it was the pages of Southern Living and House Beautiful that got me thinking - about rules and how good it is to see them broken.  

Some rules were just meant to be broken - and that's true of so many in interior design.  Mainly because rules can keep you from creating a home that's filled with the things that are beautiful to you.  

And, honestly, breaking design rules makes for a more exciting, unique home.   Here are the eight rules you need to abandon now:

Southern Living living room

photo credit:  Southern Living magazine

1.  Don't use imperfect furniture.  This room's magic comes from i quiet use of texture.  Central to it is this curved, seagrass-wrapped, mid-century coffee table.  While a brand-new reproduction would work just fine, the authentic wear of this vintage piece adds to the depth of the room's appeal. 

House Beautiful dining room

photo credit: House Beautiful magazine

2.  Your dining room chairs must match.   While there's nothing wrong with matching dining room chairs, look how much more exciting the room is with a mix. These are united by their style and colors, but don't be afraid to mix up collection of wood-plank chairs, or the classic of distinctly grander chairs at the ends of the table. 

photo credit:  House Beautiful magazine

3.  Don't use dark colors in small spaces.  This is one of my pet peeves.  Small spaces can be so cozy and rich when painted, or papered, in rich colors.  Iconic decorator, Mark Hampton, went so far as to recommend dark colors for small spaces.  His reasoning was that pale colors simply highlight how small the space is because you can see into all the corners.  If you use darker colors, the space becomes unified, warm, and a more intimate space.  Dark colors embrace the small space. 

photo credit:  House Beautiful magazine

4.  Don't place furniture in front of your windows.  This one I have mixed feelings about - I love the light from windows and letting every, single bit of it into your home.  That said, sometimes the room's function and flow demand use of the window wall.  Do not hesitate to use it.  Note that this house is in the country, so curtains aren't essential.  If your situation requires curtains, consider something simple like matchstick shades, which disappear when you raise them. 

photo credit:  House Beautiful magazine

5.  Don't mix patterns.  The French mix patterns all the time.  And it works so well. The trick is to vary the scale, like the larger scale on the sink-skirt fabric vs. the very small scale of the wallpaper pattern.  The other essential when mixing up patterns is to unify the look with color.  In this case it's the reddish color.  Another note about this image - there's just something about artwork on a patterned wall that I just love.  Which leads me to the next rule worth breaking:

house beautiful library

photo credit:  House Beautiful magazine

6.  Hang pictures on plain walls.   I LOVE a gallery wall.  But sometimes you don't have a full, plain wall to fill with your artwork.  One of my favorite places to hang art is on a bookcase, like this great House Beautiful library.   Of course, you'll want to be sure to place books you don't plan on reading anytime soon behind them.   Also, take a look at the wallpapered walls in the #5 picture - artwork just plain looks great against pattern. 

southern living painted furniture

photo credit:  Southern Living magazine

7.  Painted furniture is for vacation homes and children's rooms.  Firstly, this Southern Living dining room's wall paper, natural light, and fabric details make it a winner.  The softly painted dining room furniture brighten and calm the space, letting the patterned walls really shine.  Also, I can't not mention the green-fabric lamp shades (LOVE!) and those soft yellow curtains.   Both colors are picked up from the spectacular wallpaper, and add a playfulness (along with the painted furniture) to this room which could go stiff and formal without these soft details.

Bottom line:  If you can conceive it, try it.  If you want to use it, try it.  If you want to break rules, try it.  It's your home, and should be filled with what makes you smile and brings you joy or comfort.  Have fun with your decor, and you'll find your home smiling back at you.

Thanks for reading.

-- Virginia

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