In every profession, there are sets of rules laid out that are generally meant to be followed. The profession of interior decorating is no different. There are many decorating rules of thumb that are there for your own good because following them means you will end up with a well designed room.
But let's be honest, many "rules" are meant to be broken, and breaking them means you have an edge, you're a rebel, which ends up being good design because of the rebelliousness of it.
So which rules do you follow and which ones do you discard? Sometimes it's hard to know if the decorating rule you just broke works, or just doesn't. As my own rule of thumb, I say - experiment! There's nothing wrong with trying new things and listening to your gut (or best friend)! But to give you a little guide line, I've assembled my set of rules that I would never break when decorating a space...and you probably shouldn't either.
NEVER and ALWAYS: Rules of Decorating
1. NEVER use the decorative pillows that come with your new sofa. If you feel you have to (which people can't seem to help) then put them somewhere else in the space such as on the accent chairs; or at the very least use them in combination with other pillows on the sofa. The exception to this rule is if you have the option of choosing the fabric for your pillows. If this is the case then by all means, take advantage of this and choose colours that work with your design plan!
2. ALWAYS stay away from "dirty colours". You might find these in wallpaper, pillows, artwork, etc. they're colours that are less saturated, brownish and have a spongey and washed out look to them. I can them "dirty colours" because they really just look dirty and make your space look dirty as well. Stick with clean, fresh colours in your space.
3. NEVER forget about your proportions. You never want all your furniture and accessories to look way too big or way too small. However, if you are really struggling with the size you should go with, it's almost always safe to say that bigger will be better. Whether you're choosing a rug, artwork, a mirror, shelf, furniture, etc. it's usually better to go bigger rather than smaller. It will fill up the space and look grand and impactful as opposed to mini and pathetic.
4. ALWAYS use a rug on hard floor (and even sometimes on carpeting!) to help define the space and make your room it feel warm and inviting. This is usually for living rooms, bedrooms, and other rooms that are meant to be more comfortable. This doesn't have to apply to kitchens and other dining areas, but it can!
5. NEVER be too matchy matchy. It's easy to get carried away on your theme or colour scheme but if you want your main colour to be blue, it doesn't mean everything should be blue. Remember, not everything has to "go". Some mis-matched items can create unexpected, special moments in your home.
6. ALWAYS leave breathing space and don't over decorate. That means you must really think about your neutrals in the space and add "special moments" instead of too much going on at every turn.
7. NEVER use too many patterns and colours. I like colour and pattern but too many can be over stimulating and can cheapen your decor. Being purposeful with your selections can create a more impactful design. Again, use your neutrals wisely to break up the colour and pattern.
8. ALWAYS have a plan. It's so easy to get excited and overzealous with your new purchases but if you don't have a plan in mind and go in knowing what you're looking for, you'll end up spending your hard earned money on items that don't really work together in your space. Having a plan makes your decorating feel more complete and purposeful.
9. NEVER be close minded. It's important to have a vision in mind but it's also super important to be flexible. If you're not finding that exact lamp you've been looking for for over a year, then maybe you're being too specific with you search. If you have such specific thoughts in mind, chances are you will be disappointed when you start shopping and you will end up not finishing your project (which will be even more disappointing!). It's best to have an idea of what you need (ex. I need a large white or cream lamp that will add some "bling") and then take into consideration a few different options that could work.
10. ALWAYS listen to your gut. It has to feel like your style and your home. Just because you might really like what your neighbour did with her living room does not mean it will be right for you and your home. Stick with your style - just do your style right.