3 Interior Design Rules I Tend to Break


I’m not much of a rule breaker, in fact I’m quite the opposite, but one of the most common questions I get asked as an interior designer is…

“What are the interior design rules-of-thumb I’m supposed to follow?”

My answer is typically a mash up of a few things. First off, I believe there are two types of interior designers. The first type being more of a “type A personality” where everything has to be “just so” and “by-the-book.”

And then there’s me, amongst many others, who take a more artistic, “follow your heart” type of approach. We tend to look at a room as a blank canvas, just waiting to be painted. We don’t exactly know what we’re going to paint, but we know it will be beautiful once the room speaks to us.

The differences between these two types of designers will lend you many different answers to this coveted question, but as it pertains to my perspective, I have three distinct rules I don’t mind breaking. Let’s take a deeper dive into those three rule-breakers!

Rule-Breaker #1:

Hang The Drapes All The Way to The Ceiling

Sometimes this rule works, but most of the time it doesn’t. I know people LOVE to hang their drapes as high as possible (this rule is promoted to make a room feel taller), but in many cases it just looks awkward. It simply doesn’t work! If the room calls for drapes being hung to the ceiling, then ok, I’ll consider it. But I sure don’t promote the idea if it’s not right for the room.

Instead, try something more “in between,” like the below example. Here, I’ve raised the curtains higher than the top of the window, but as you can see, they’re not hugging up against the ceiling, either. In most cases, this middle-of-the-road approach is much more appropriate for the average room.

Rule Breaker #2:

Stay “On Trend” 100% of The Time

This is such a sad notion to me — I hate that people feel like their homes need to keep up with the latest trend. To me, a home needs to speak to you and your family; your passions, the things you love etc. So when I see people desperately try to stay on trend 100% of the time, that tells me that they haven’t yet found their own sense of style.

From my perspective, I think it’s a better use of time to look deep into who you are and pay attention to the design elements that YOU love; Not what everyone else loves. Especially when many of those trends will come and go in just a few years. Talk about wasted money!

Rule Breaker #3:

Hang Your Art and Light Fixtures at a Certain Height

Ok, so I’ll admit, more times than not, I DO follow this rule. But I also know exactly when to break it. For example, if you’re hanging a large gallery wall, and you have an oversized room or wall, if you center the gallery wall at eye-level (which is typically standard in the interior design industry), the gallery wall would be entirely too short for the scale of the room. This is a perfect example of when to lift your gallery wall higher in order to fit the scale and height of the room.

I also tend to hang lighting and wall sconces at a certain height (in general, the height is about 60 inches from the floor), but sometimes the rules simply don’t apply. For instance, a historical house (let’s say something from the early 1900’s) might have wall sconces hung much higher than a new-build in today’s times. And surprisingly, it’s not always because the ceiling height is taller either! This is more related to a period of time where wall sconces were simply hung higher on the wall, and to honor that time period, I would hang them higher as well. There are also times where a home might have extremely high ceilings, which might also lend to hanging the sconces higher as well. As you can see, it entirely depends on the circumstance.

So that’s it folks! Those are the three interior design rules I find myself breaking on a regular basis. I’m sure there’s more, but those are the three I notice most during my time with clients.

Have you ever found yourself getting caught up in those rules as well? If so, remember that decorating your home should speak to YOU. It’s your home after all, so don’t forget that!

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