I’m sharing the top 5 decorating rules that you need to follow to have a home that looks like a professional decorated it for you (and these are all rules provided by professional interior designers!)
Sometimes you walk into a home and immediately know that they had a designer. Custom drapes and upholstery, little touches that speak to a higher level of decor.
But sometimes you have that friend that can make anything look like it was done professionally.
You think that they have a magic touch but what they really know is the secret sauce to decorating!
There are a few design rules that will elevate your decor and I’m going to share with you the top 5.
Now these are the top 5 rules according to interior designers so I’ve done my research to be able to share them with you.
Remember that decorating rules exist to help you. Not to make you feel confined by them.
A great design means that your home functions well for the people who live in it. It’s beyond just a room that looks pretty. It’s about form and function as well.
So remember that the term “rule” is a pretty loose way of being a “guide”
Decorating Rules – Find a Focal Point
I definitely think that this rule belongs in first place because I think you need to start with your focal point and move out of your room from this.
Some rooms will already have a focal point – a view or a fireplace, and some rooms will need you to give them a focal point.
In a bedroom it’s often the bed that becomes the focal point.
The focal point is what’s going to grab your eye when you walk into the room so once you determine what it is you want to keep the focus on that space and build around it.
Once you’ve determined your focal point you want to move onto the next of the decorating rules!
Decorating Rules – Build the Foundation
This is not always the favorite of the rules to follow but it’s definitely one of the fundamentals of creating a great space.
You want to determine the foundation of your room before you start moving things around and have a plan.
Measure, measure, measure and plan, plan, plan.
If you plan how a room should function and look when it’s finished it will be so much easier to get there. Even if you have a few detours along the way.
Space planning helps us see what the best layout is for a room. It helps us use all the available space in a room and it helps us determine what the best pieces of furniture will be in a room so that it works for our family and our space.
Most of us aren’t going to move into a new home and purchase all new furniture for it. We’re generally going to have some pieces that we’re going to make work or that we’re going to make do with until we can replace or update them.
That’s the reality of life.
A foundational plan will help you right from the beginning. You can figure out the best spot for the pieces you have and then figure out what pieces you should add as your budget allows.
If you’re a secondhand shopper like me, it’ll help you know whether a piece will fit into your space before you purchase it and bring it home with you!
So get yourself some graph paper, or an app and draw out your space. Move your pieces around and be sure you’ve got the pieces that you need and the walking space around them. Make the pieces work for you instead of making the space work for the pieces you have!
Decorating Rules – Choose Your Fabrics First
I know you want to paint your whole place before your move any furniture or hang curtains or do any of the things right?
Don’t do it!
Don’t paint until you’ve chosen all your fabrics and rugs!
Paint comes in so many colors and shades. Each of these has its own undertones and you can even have colors custom mixed to match the colors of your fabric.
Even a white room can have undertones that will make it appear to be a different color and your fabrics and lighting (and the direction the room faces) all have a hand in this.
So choose your favorite rug, choose the fabric and throw pillows. Pick those things first because paint is much easier (and less expensive) to change than fabric.
But it’s a lot easier to get the paint right if you choose your fabric colors first and your paint last. Why repaint when you can get it right on the first try!?
Decorating Rules – The Rule of 3
The rule of three is one of those rules that just makes everything feel better in a room.
It affects how you decorate, how you layout your decor, the size and shape of the objects that you use.
It’s in the work triangle you use in a kitchen.
It applies to your colors, patterns and fabrics.
This is the golden rule (or golden ratio) of interior design.
I usually present it in arranging shelves and surfaces, using the rule of three for a vignette.
What it really boils down too is that decorating in odd numbers makes a room more appealing. Grouping items, colors, patterns in odd numbers gives them a little visual tension and makes it more fun for your eyes and brain to decipher.
Decorating Rules – Leave Some Empty Space
Remember that your eye needs to rest in a space so there’s a reason that you leave a little space in your design.
You don’t have to fill every single spot. The exception to this is if your design style is maximalism and then you have your own rules to follow because instead of “less is more” your style is “more is more”.
Different people have a different tolerance for how much decor should be in a room.
There’s definitely a balance between what feels good to you and what feels too sparse vs what feels like clutter. There are some rules to helping you find this balance but also just a little practice will help.
But remember that the rule is that not every space needs to be filled.
It’s okay to have some space that has nothing. An empty corner or some wall showing through.
Design Rules – The Golden Rule
I think the most important rule of all is to remember that the rules are really guidelines to help you and that if you don’t like them you don’t have to follow them!
Remember that your home is YOUR Home. It’s not a magazine spread and it’s not the home of someone else’s rules. You make the rules.
The most important thing is that your space works for your family. That it’s comfortable for the people living in it and that it functions for how you live.
You can apply those rules in any order just remember that you make the rules!
Your home is meant to be lived in. It’s not a museum.
These rules that I’ve shared are design principles that will help you create a space that works for you!
So are you a rule follower or a rule breaker?
If you’re looking for more help or inspiration be sure to check out: