Category Archives: Rethinking Design Rules

A fresh outlook on old wive’s tales about design.

Breaking Bad Design #2: New Rules You Can Live By

first pants

Do You believe that if you follow the rules and stay within the lines, you will be safe from some hideous Design Faux Pas?

False hope won’t save you. 


A new day is dawning. Don’t blindly follow what amounts to Decorating Superstitions or you will be taking yourself out of the equation of your own home. You’re better served in learning to really see what you are looking at, then make decisions based on what’s true about the space, your own preferences and dare I say, budding creativity.

Consider the following as New Rules for a fresh approach:

  • Don’t be a snob. It has been said that “money and taste frequently move in inverse ratio”.  Don’t be afraid to mix the high-end treasure with the fabulous flea market find.  Unusual old things found anywhere can be “re-purposed” in modern environments to great effect.
  • Don’t pinch pennies ’til they hurt either. Searching flea markets for bargains can be both fun and rewarding but remember to stress interesting over cheap. Don’t buy something mediocre just because you got a good deal on it. If you buy junk, you own junk. Good quality is an investment in satisfaction over time. This is particularly true about art.
  • Break up the sets…please. This means dining chairs, bedroom suites, and china too.  Pairs, however, add balance and cohesiveness.  Try mixing pairs together where applicable.
  • Get over Color Block Syndrome. Loud colors in the home are usually questionable but then again, so is Landlord White By Default. Select tones or shades of colors that already exist in your rooms to create a harmonious backdrop for your furnishings. THEN, consider those “color pops” you might have heard are a good idea.
  • By the way, doors and trims don’t have to be white. A few shades lighter or darker than your main wall color looks great. The best solution is to create a color palette for your whole home where the door and trim color can be used consistently throughout.
  • Learn to “see” what you are looking at. Take full advantage of the creative options right in front of you. Where are your focal points? Pay attention to shape, size, color, texture and proportion. The notion that certain items have designated rooms with no deviation allowed is another Bad Design Rule.
  • Most importantly, lighten up. Are you veering toward neurotic worry over whether your choices are in good taste?  Good taste for whom?   Even if you actually are being graded by a jury of your peers, in the end, this is your home.  It’s supposed to be all about you and what you find beautiful and restful to live with.

Besides, as Dorothy Parker put it, “A little bad taste is like a nice dash of paprika.”

Related Posts

Breaking Bad Design #1: Rules Are Boring

 Article Photo: