Room Design I.T. Software Tools App

Home Decorating Rules to Ignore

While clear parameters can help guide a home design project, sticking to old interior design rules can make a home feel outdated. The best decorating rules are not rules at all but rather a set of guidelines that can help facilitate aesthetic choices. Some of the most beautiful and innovative interiors are designed when the decorator takes creative risks and breaks a few decorative rules.

To break the rules, it’s essential first to know the rules. Below are the top seven design rules made to be broken.

Rule 1: Everything Must Match

Once upon a time, “matchy-matchy” was said as a compliment, and today, the term is used as quite an insult to a decorated space. Matching all the furniture and décor is less critical than ever, and designers often prefer making a beautiful space look slightly unintentional. While colors and patterns should coordinate and work together, pairing unlikely items can create a natural and exciting look that better fits the homeowner’s style than a traditionally matched home.

Rule 2: Never Mix Metals

Many homes today were built with the same metal and metallic finishes as it was most cost-effective and timely for builders. Unfortunately, the one-metal look is outdated and can flatten a home’s aesthetic. While various metal finishes can look uncoordinated, combining a few can create an exciting and unique look. To successfully mix metals, match the sheen of each fixture— shiny chrome will look better with polished brass than dull chrome or silver.

Rule 3: Avoid Dark Colors in Small Rooms

The myth of avoiding dark colors is a remnant from the days when making a room look as large as possible was the most crucial design objective. Since these times, decorative tastes have changed, people have downsized, and a large room’s allure has lost appeal. If creating the illusion of an ample space is the goal, light neutral colors are the best way to go, but before heading down that path, ask if making a room look more significant is the best goal.

No matter the size, any color can work if the goal is to create a beautiful room. As with any color scheme, sample them before committing to a whole room full of them. Be sure to use the appropriate lighting in the small room to understand how the dark colors work in the space. The success of dark colors in a small room often lies with proper lighting and a cohesive palette.

Rule 4: White Trim or Nothing

While white trim and molding have positioned themselves as necessities, they have not always been the standard choice. Trim color shifts with trends like any other design and should be selected based on the goals and aesthetic of the room. One new trend is using dark, neutral colors instead of the traditional white trim. This trend creates an edgier, moody feel in a room and an exciting accent. Many apps can display a sample of the room after photos are uploaded; this is a great way to experiment with darker trim before committing to it.

Rule 5: Neutrals Go with Everything

Neutrals do not go with everything. While choosing neutral colors is the easiest way to coordinate a room, finding the appropriate neutral color can be challenging. Since neutral colors are created by combining colors until they neutralize each other, all “neutrals” have undertones that will become apparent when used on walls, tiles, or other vital places. Grey walls with a purple undertone may not look right next to red or green chairs. 

A warm beige or “greige” is the easiest neutral. Greige is a warm gray color with lots of brown and is versatile in its uses. These two colors will most likely match already owned furniture and décor and can remain on the walls even after old furniture is traded for new trends and styles.

Rule 6: Ceilings Should be White

Custom ceiling colors can create a beautiful accent wall and a dramatic, personalized space. While “decorator white” is the default, the ceiling is an underutilized room part that can contribute significantly to the overall aesthetic and feeling. Repainting a ceiling can be a big commitment, so test the color before putting it all over. The most practical way to color test is by using paintable sample films that can be repositioned. This sample allows for essential color consideration and to see the color under different lighting and times of day to see if it works well for the space. 

Rule 7: Only Use Bright Colors as Accents

The traditional rule was to keep key pieces neutral and have the occasional “pop of color” to brighten and personalize a space. While this is a tried and true formula, it can be broken. Use neutral accents to create a monochrome feel or commit to an all-colorful, personalized aesthetic. The decorating trick of colors is the 60-30-10 rule; the primary color should occupy 60% of the space, the secondary 30%, and the accent 10%). This unique rule can be used with any color palette, creating a balanced look for the room.