Design Rules That Are Meant To Be Broken

By: Jennifer Culp –Interior Designer
Contributor’s website: JC Design Studios


As legendary designer Billy Baldwin said, “The first rule of decoration is that you can break almost all the other rules.” 

This is an excellent motto to follow because I often find my clients get too caught up in preconceived design notions, making them fearful to experiment and take chances.  Every space is unique and should be approached with an open mind and creative heart.  Here are my 5 favorite “design rules” I would like to de-bunk in the New Year.

1. Painting a small space dark will make it feel smaller

Sometimes a dark color can create the illusion of more space.  By painting the walls, trim, windows and doors one color the walls tend to melt into the background, and it becomes indistinguishable where the walls begin and end.  The illusion is that the space just continues.  Of course lighting and accessories are key when choosing to go dark.

2. Don’t mix and match furniture styles

There is a common misconception, that all your furniture should stay true to the architecture of the house.  While it is important to honor the architecture, there is nothing more boring than sticking to a single style.  It is so important to mix new and old pieces to create an eclectic space that appears to span the years.  This keeps the space fresh and not dated.

3. Don’t mix different woods or metals

The days of matching sets of furniture are long gone.  Just like wearing gold and silver is common in fashion, mixing woods and metals creates a layered and interesting look.  Play with balancing cool metals with warm ones, and dark wood tones with light…. it creates a beautiful juxtaposition.

4. Overheard light is a must

I am not a fan of recessed down lights which add no character to a room.  Lighting is so important and often overlooked.  To create a warm glow without unflattering shadows use floor and table lamps to create ambient lighting

5. Don’t mix patterns

This is my favorite! I always have clients asking me… “does this really go together?”  And my response is usually, “doesn’t everything go together?”  Mixing patterns is so important to creating an interesting space.  It does take some trial and error, but you can play with pattern size, scale and color.  There are no rules here, so don’t be afraid to experiment.

Design Tip:

Try not to become too bogged down with rules if you are doing a DIY project.  The most important goal is to create a unique space that is interesting and yours, so don’t be afraid to push the limits and challenge yourself.  You will be happy with the results!


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By: Jennifer Culp –Interior Designer

Contributor’s website: JC Design Studios

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