Sometimes, when it comes to decorating, it's helpful to think outside the box. But maybe the box is one you didn't even realize you were in. Maybe you're laboring under some assumptions that are so insidious, you never really thought about them at all. Here are a few unspoken rules that couldn't be more untrue — and that might be holding your space back from being all it can be.
Furniture has to be placed against a wall.
There's no rule that says all your furniture has to hug the wall like a shy kid at a junior high dance. If you have the space, pulling your furniture away from the walls and into groupings in the middle of the room can open up a lot of possibilities and make a space much more dynamic.
Every room needs to have a color scheme.
A lot of people start decorating a space by thinking: what color is this room going to be? But at lot of really successful spaces don't have a dominant color at all. When you see a picture of an interior you like, ask yourself what it is that draws you to that particular space. It may be that you like rooms that are driven by texture, or that work a mostly neutral palette with only the occasional dose of color.
Everything in a room needs to match.
You'll end up with a space that is much more layered and interesting if you focus less on what matches and more on what 'goes'. If you look closely at rooms from different design blogs and magazines, you'll notice that the most interesting spaces tend to mix together pieces of different finishes and different periods. In decorating as in life, contrast (and balance) helps keep things lively.
You need to fill up every spot in the room.
Just because there's a space in a room where you could put a piece of furniture doesn't mean you should. Some of the most successful spaces are delightfully undercrowded. Think about what your needs are and what furniture is needed to fill those needs, and then finish out the room with accessories like plants and art.
Good decorators never make mistakes.
Even the best decorators, people who have been doing this sort of thing for years, occasionally make mistakes. Every house tour participant I've ever interviewed has at least one story of a paint color or a purchase gone wrong. So don't be afraid to make a bold move, and maybe make a mistake — it happens to the best of us.
Re-edited from a post originally published 6.10.15-NT