“It isn’t what we don’t know that gives us trouble, it’s what we know that ain’t so.”
When it comes to making decorating choices for the home, many people fear breaking established “design rules”. The reality is that many so-called design “no-no’s” are just myths that prevent us from making the choices that will transform a room from drab to fab. Well, we are here to de-bunk some of these absurd myths!
1. Dark paint will make my room look small.
On the surface, this rule makes sense. You see two boxes side-by-side. One is black and one is white. The white one looks bigger. SURELY, this optical illusion must be the case with a room interior. Nope! Dark paints often give a sense of elegance to a space, most specifically when paired with crisp white detailing in the crown molding, base boards and a light ceiling. When you paint the walls dark, you want the other elements to be lighter for contrast. The floor should be light, the rugs adding color or texture and the ceiling should definitely not be painted to match (or you will feel like you are in a box). The furniture can range from dark to light depending if you want a cozy or sophisticated vibe. Going dark on the walls is a bold move, but not one that will dwarf a room if done correctly.
2. All the patterns have to be the same (floral, geometric, plaid).
Curtains should match the wallpaper and pillows right? This isn’t Elizabethan times anymore. We are in an era of contrast, creativity and playfulness. We don’t recommend having every piece in the room being a different pattern, but mixing and matching patterns of similar color palettes in different scales and styles will add depth and interest to your space. We often layer stripes and organics, anchor large patterned pieces on a smaller patterned rug and will even pair floral with plaid. Have fun and relax. If you keep the colors minimal, you can go wilder with the pattern combinations.
3. You can’t mix traditional and modern.
Haven’t you ever heard of eclectic design? It’s so fun to mix and match furniture from different timeframes- BUT, a word of warning- it is not always an easy feat and you don’t want your living room to look like a garage sale. The key is deciding what is important to you. Are you designing your home around a secretary that you inherited from your grandmother? Or is your taste so varied you can’t decide what direction you want? The idea of triangulation helps pulls styles together. You want to have 3 of something in a roomscape. If you have a super traditional house with large rolled arm sofas and Queen Anne style chairs, you can’t just add an acrylic table with a lava lamp and call it a day. You need to really decide what is special to you and how to work with it. For instance, you can reupholster your antique chairs with a modern pattern, bring in the acrylic coffee table but ditch the rolled arm sofa for a piece that is more streamlined. This will help start to create a connection. Again- this should be approached with caution and with the help of a professional.
4. Leather is not good for kids or pets.
We hear this almost every day. People have a tendency to think leather is very delicate. But here’s the newsflash- not all leather is the same. First, we aren’t going to get technical with all the types of leather (that’s another post). But leather is skin hide. It is meant to withstand the elements. It will outlast fabric 5:1. The key is selecting the right kind of leather and keeping it protected. You want to use leather protection cream to keep it supple. Also, there is a variety of highly protected leather that is easy to clean when there is a spill, will not scratch and has an embossing to look the exact same today as it will in 10 years. Other varieties are more natural and will patina over time- but we find that they just become more beautiful as they are loved and lived with.
5. Wallpaper is old-fashioned.
We know what you are thinking when you imagine wallpaper… Your grandma’s house growing up with the plastic covered sofa and the floral wallpaper that was gold and pink. It’s so different now. First, the amount of patterns to select from are endless. You can do a large pattern that appears more like a piece of art, or a small-scaled pattern that reads more like a color than a design. It can be adhered to the whole room or just on an accent wall in lieu of paint. We love doing colorful, illustrative prints in kid’s rooms; adding interest to entry ways and on the backs of built-ins to create depth and a fun background for display.
6. My woods have to match.
This is definitely not true. Should every single piece of wood in a room be completely different? No, lets not get carried away! However, not everything needs to match either. Your furniture doesn’t have to be the same color as your window sills, chair rail, built-ins, kitchen cabinets or other furniture in the room. It should definitely be in the same color family (i.e. warm tones vs. cool), but don’t stress about everything being the same stain or the exact same wood species. We often like to 2-tone our furniture if we are trying to tie together existing pieces with new purchases. The idea is to create a continuity around the space.
7. My furniture needs to match my floor.
NO. Let your floors be your floors. They are the anchor to the room and if they are light, there is no reason to not do dark furniture. If anything, the contrast will look nicer. If you love natural cherry furniture and your floors are light maple, definitely consider an area rug to break them apart and avoid the illusion of the furniture melting into the floor.