3 Decorating Rules to Start Ignoring Now

It’s a new day, a new dawn, and some of these design ideas are plain forgettable now.

Zoë Gowen
The Living Room: Balance, Don't Battle the Sexes
Laurey W. Glenn

When it comes to your home, everyone loves to throw in his or her two cents. Typically, these decorating ideas are short and easy to remember, which is why they have been mindlessly passed down as the Holy Grail of interiors from generation to generation and friend to friend. Today, we're going to stop and examine why these well known design rules are actually creating big decorating flaws in your home. Start breaking rules in 1, 2, 3…

1. All great rooms begin with the rug. Back before machine looms and international shipping companies, carpets were extremely laborious to make and they came from far away places like Persia (now Iran) and India. Their exoticism made them covetable, precious, and pricey. So when you did finally get your hands on that beautiful floor covering, you kept it for life and you highlighted that rug with an entire room designed around it. Today, our rooms take a lot more wear and tear. Luckily, rugs while no means disposable—are easier to come by these days. So if a pagoda shaped pair of étagères or your great aunt’s leopard loveseat wildly inspires you—it’s A-Okay for the rug to come last. But do make sure that it’s the right size for the room. See how our former Editor, Lindsay, agrees with me.

2. Family photos are off limits in public rooms. Some decorator living in another era with a clientele of high-ranking government officials that entertained diplomats must have made this mandate. The thinking here is that family photos are too sentimental for the public to see and that they would “junk up” your formal rooms. In today’s digital everything world, printed and framed photos are becoming somewhat novel. So go ahead and frame those people who share your DNA and your likeness. In your more formal rooms, do look for nicer picture frames like faux-tortoise or simple silver in a variety of sizes. A grouping of all vertical 4 x 6 frames will look like a shop’s display. Also, vary the type of photo—formal wedding portraits are memorable, but mix in some candid snapshots for personality. Last rule of thumb, no photos of anyone over 12 in bathing suits without cover-ups. Yes, that was a great a summer moment at the lake house, but family rooms aren’t for cleavage.


3. Every room needs something red. Yes, red brings energy to a room. And yes, every room needs a jolt of something unexpected to keep it from feeling contrived. However, there are many more options for making this happen. So if you’ve spent all your resources creating a sublime pastel sitting room and you can’t possibly see how red will fit in without jarring you everyday, you can take a pass on that spot of red. But, don’t discount red completely. It’s been out of vogue for a while, which is all the reason that it deserves a cheerful comeback. We can skip the burgundies this go-around.