10 Rule-Breaking Decor Moves that Worked

10 Rule-Breaking Decor Moves that Worked

Nancy Mitchell
Oct 30, 2015
(Image credit: Inside Closet)

Whether we're aware of them or not, we all make certain assumptions about how our homes should look, and how they should be decorated. Most of the conventions we observe are quite reasonable: they help to preserve the order and harmony of the visual environment. But there can also be a certain joy in flouting these rules. Art and decor that subverts the normal, that plays with your expectations, can be surprisingly attractive, and besides being attractive it's also surprising — its appeal comes with a sudden rush of transgressive joy.

This post is a celebration of that kind of out-of-the-box thinking. Here are 10 rule-breaking decor moves that totally worked.

Above: From Inside Closet, an unconventional treatment of vintage paintings that will have you looking twice. (Please do this with garage sale masterpieces, and not actual masterpieces.)

(Image credit: Design Milk)

Utilitarian things like ducts and pipes are often painted the same color as the ceiling or wall, to make them as unobtrusive as possible. But in this interior from Design Milk, a jolt of bright color suddenly makes an eyesore into a quirky and lovable design feature.

(Image credit: Desire to Inspire)

The placement of these two piece of art treats the boundary between the wainscot and the wall above as a mere suggestion, for a beautiful, unexpected look. From Desire to Inspire.

(Image credit: Nordic Design)

We've all heard that art is supposed to be hung at eye level — but here, a lower piece is the perfect choice. The important thing is that the art has a relationship to the sofa, creating just the right amount of tension in an otherwise very simple room. (Spotted on Nordic Design.)

(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)

Art, as mentioned above, usually hangs high above the floor, but in Savannah's Eclectic Emotional Home, a gallery wall flirts with, and eventually melds into, the bottom of the room. The look is quirky and a little bit unfinished — maybe not for everyone, but for some, a pleasing exemplar of a sort of perfected imperfection.

(Image credit: Style Me Pretty)

Usually trim is painted in white, or a shade similar to the walls, but in this interior from Style Me Pretty, starkly contrasting black trim transforms an otherwise unremarkable space.

(Image credit: Birch + Bird)

You've heard it said that all items in a room should be proportional to one another, but having one oversized element, like this giant lamp, can really make a big statement. Spotted on Birch + Bird.

(Image credit: My Scandinavian Home)

A common bit of advice is to make sure that your art fills the wall, so that you don't wind up with a choppy, disconnected look. But in this case from My Scandinavian Home, placing a single, small frame right above the bed draws attention to the piece and creates a feeling of serenity.

(Image credit: Lonny)

The accepted wisdom about color is that moderation is key: if you're going to have a very bold color in a space, you might want to keep the others a little subdued. But in this interior from Lonny, a riot of bold colors in close company somehow seems so right.

(Image credit: SF Girl by Bay)

The positioning of the artwork in this bedroom, spotted on SF Girl by Bay, is doubly 'wrong': it's positioned both off-center and behind the headboard of the bed. But in the case, the slender railings of the headboard don't conceal the artwork, and the off-center positioning works for the room, which is simultaneously quirky (witness the branch in the vase) and minimal (the limited color scheme).

The point is that, as long as you only break one (or two!) rules at a time, and always keep an eye for the overall composition, a little deviation from the norm can turn out to be the most compelling element in a space. Rules were made to be broken.

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