A Break-the-Rules Guide to Living Room Design

updated Jul 16, 2020
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(Image credit: Monica Wang)

Sometimes the best rooms are the ones that throw all the rules right out the window! Down with cookie-cutter rooms that all follow the same formula. These rooms prove you can follow your own path and still have a stylish space.

(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)

“Rule”: You need a coffee table

Nope. If you need lots of places to set your stuff (like, ahem, your coffee) then spend the money and space here. If you’d rather have some open space, that’s fine too. Maybe you’d rather have impromptu dance parties without moving furniture and we support that.

→ Break the Rules: Ciao, Coffee Table!

(Image credit: Andrea Sparacio)

“Rule”: A rug is a must

Sometimes you want a little softness and sometimes you wouldn’t dream of covering up your gorgeous hardwood with some lowly rug. You be you, design star.

(Image credit: David’s Big Style in a Small Space )

“Rule”: Never go oversized in a small space

You might think this oversized art would overwhelm this tiny room, but in fact, it makes it. Often small items in small spaces can just look scattered and unfocused. One big thing grounds the decor.

(Image credit: Kim Lucian)

“Rule”: Cleaning and polishing will improve everything

We love gleamy wood some of the time, but it’s often just as nice to let some weathered texture lend a rustic vibe to your room. Not everything needs a redo; imperfect can be beautiful too.

(Image credit: Lindsey Kay Averill)

“Rule”: Your metals have to match

No more! In fact, mixing metals is a great low-key way to get an unfussy, cool, I-just-threw-all-these-things-together-and-it-works feel without making your eclectic look too over the top.

Okay, what living room design “rules” do you break or bend?