Oooh! Too many to list but here are my favorite rules to break:
STOP looking at trends.
Your inspiration for your room is found inside you and your life experiences, not on TV, the web or through someone else’s life. When designing a room, think about how you want to live and feel in the space. Your first stop for inspiration should be your imagination. I believe that good design is within all of us.
STOP playing it safe.
It’s what I call “going beige”. Be bold. Your home should be a personal reflection of you. Neutrals are a fine base, but go crazy with color, texture, finishes and décor you love layered on top.
STOP trying to make everything match.
Homes are a personal reflection of our lives and how they change with our experiences and growth. Your home will too. Don’t discard a favorite piece of furniture or décor, just because it doesn’t match what you love today. It’s perfectly OK to blend finishes, colors and design genres. That’s how the room tells your story. No one’s story is perfect or matches through the years.
Which rules are arbitrary?
There are some really important, objective rules (see Five Principles of Design); toss the rest of them out. They are merely opinion. A professional designer will guide you through the unbreakable design principles. A good designer will also listen and encourage you to personalize your home to your lifestyle, not for “resale” or because “it’s what I have in my home”.
Which ones were made to be broken?
Your home. Your room. Anything goes. You can break all the rules! You are in charge. I do encourage homeowners to learn about and apply the five simple principles of design, because they are foundational and supply that “this room feels good” sense. Otherwise, make it yours.
And, most importantly what is the down side of letting too many rules get in the way of good design?
We are so influenced by the buzzword that is “design” today. That’s good and bad. Don’t confuse good design with décor. There are objective principles in design (see Five Principles of Design), that should be applied in order for a room to function and feel the way you expect. Beyond that, don’t get too wrapped up in rules. If we are guided by trends, rules or designed-obsessed media, we lose sight of what is personal and important to our home. The downside of too many rules is simply that people become afraid to personalize and let their home reflect themselves.