Be a Design Rebel! 4 Design Rules You Should Totally Break

Be a Design Rebel! 4 Design Rules You Should Totally Break

Adrienne Breaux
Aug 23, 2014
(Image credit: Lizzie Ford)

We've been sharing lots of basic ideas for you this month, and believe us, the basics are good to know. Especially what the most common design mistakes are. Design rules help you achieve that kind of balanced, sophisticated, welcoming space you've always wanted. But you know what? Rules are made to be broken sometimes! Here are four design "rules" that work even better when you don't follow them.

(Image credit: Andrea Sparacio)

Making your decor match the architecture or style of the building
It's true, rocking a home's architectural look throughout your space can achieve cohesiveness and a beautiful richness that comes from a singular style being so strongly stated. But you know what else leads to rich, sophisticated spaces? Contrast — and contrasting styles can be a bold way to spice up a room.

How to make it look intentional: If you're gonna do something, go all the way. So if your building has a traditional look, go ultra modern. Or the other way around.

(Image credit: Bridget Pizzo)

Using only elements of one style or look in a room
Maybe you don't have a home that has a particularly stand-out style, but still feel like you've got to choose only one style when it comes to your furnishings? Nope. Mixing and matching furniture styles, eras and designs is a long-favorite method to make an interesting space.

How to make it look intentional: Pay close attention to scale of furniture so that proportionally things "go" together. Consider letting a common design element weave its way through pieces of different styles, like a common color or texture. Be choosy. And don't have more furniture than you really need.

(Image credit: Paige Davidson & Dwight Putnam)

NOT painting a small room dark
That whole "paint it light to visually expand the space," that's totally true. Light colors can make a space feel bigger. But sometimes a dark wall color — even paint the ceiling too if you want — can add the kind of drama into a room that infuses it with excitement.

How to make it look intentional: Again, go all the way. Paint it a seriously dark color. Consider painting all the architectural elements in the space the same color, too.

(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)

Always using the right scale of objects
Proportion — how objects fit with one another in a space — is an important design basic. And as we mention above, it can be a way to unify elements of lots of different styles. But changing up the proportion, making something a little too big or too small, can really be an eye catcher in a room, too.

How to make it look intentional: Go really big or go home. Or go really small or go home. The point is don't try something bold by only using an item that's a little too small or a little too big — you want to really make it obvious that you're experimenting with proportion. So if you're going to go for something big, go really oversize. Same with something too small.

What are your favorite design rules to break?

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