Interior design rules are meant to be broken

  • A couple of rules to remember, or forget: whenever in doubt, white walls work, and give a room a touch of green.

    A couple of rules to remember, or forget: whenever in doubt, white walls work, and give a room a touch of green. Creators Syndicate

By Joseph Pubillones
Posted5/13/2018 7:00 AM

Interior design and decorating are somewhat bound by rules developed over time to regulate housekeeping, maintenance and aesthetics. Some rules are the result of etiquette and protocol from the days when those things mattered a lot, and your home spoke volumes about your education, wealth and social standing.

Many consider these rules a thing of the past and, as with most norms, innovation can result when we break them. Here are a few decorating rules to consider -- and break -- when necessary.


• One pair of pillows always looks skimpy. Use two pairs, in contrasting patterns, colors and textures, and always throw in an odd one for contrast or as a conversation piece.

• Small-scale furniture only makes a small bedroom look smaller. Think vertically. Try a high bed and a tall headboard. Your room will grow.

• Mix styles. A four-poster bed will take the chill out of a modern bedroom.

• An open armoire is more interesting than a closed one. Let people into your secret world.

• The fastest way to make over sliding closet doors is to wallpaper them.

• Every large collection needs order. Wall brackets and linear shelving can bring order to a large collection or odd shapes.

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• Use a real rug in the bathroom. Use a rug instead of a bath mat. It was made to withstand a lot more wear than the occasional wet foot.

• What sofa? There is no rule that a living room has to have a sofa.

• Whenever in doubt, white walls work. You'll never get tired of a white room.

• Dark walls can do the opposite of what you'd expect: They'll make a small room feel bigger.

• Layer your lights. Four lamps are better than two. You need ambient light for mood and direct light for reading.

• Tuck in your throws. Keep throws under control. Fold them lengthwise, and then in half. Then tuck them into cushions so they look neat and tailored.

• Kick your traditional cocktail table to the curb. The most versatile cocktail table you'll ever own is an ottoman topped with a tray.


• Skirted and fringed furniture finishes a room. Too many chair and table legs can make a room seem temporary. A skirted piece or two will make it feel "grounded;" just make sure there is balance so the room doesn't feel heavy.

• Gold is gorgeous. Gold is back in a big way. A few accents will warm up a room, like brass trimmed furniture or accents.

• Give a room a touch of some green. Nothing softens a lonely corner in a big room like a potted tree or a planted orchid. Plants are sometimes the best decorative accessories.

• Leather is almost forever. The most durable fabric for dining chairs is leather or vinyl, especially if you want white.

• Switch up your seating in every room. Mix up the seating at your dining table for a "collected over time" look. You wouldn't have eight identical chairs in your living area.

• Love your closets. Paint them, paper them, hang pictures in them to inspire you. And definitely light them.

• Refinish vintage finds. Don't be afraid to paint a vintage piece. Every piece of furniture can't and shouldn't be brown.

• Pick your paint colors last.

• Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Florida.

2018, Creators Syndicate

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