10 interior design rules everyone should follow

10 Interior Decorating Rules Everyone Should Follow

Everyone has their own style and taste, and why not embrace that uniqueness when you’re decorating your home? While we’d never suggest you compromise on what you like for the sake of following the crowd, we do believe there are certain design rules you should always follow – no matter what your individual preferences. If you’re tackling a remodel or doing a simple revamp of a few rooms in your home, these are the top 10 interior decorating rules to keep in mind. Follow them wisely…

Top 10 interior decorating rules

1). Make sure you measure

We’ve all made this mistake at one point or another. We see something we like and, almost instinctively, decide it’ll fit in the space we’d like it. Then, when we get home with the dining room table, sofa or carpet, realise it’s much too big – or small. This can sometimes be a costly mistake to make. So, in the interests of being safe not sorry, measure everything in a room before you look for furniture or decor. You could even take the measurements of the item you want to buy and then use masking tape to demarcate it in the desired space. That way, you’ll be able to see exactly how it’ll fit in with whatever else is there. Interior designers have measuring tape with them at all times.

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2). Don’t compromise function for form

This is a crucial design rule to follow – especially if you’re a sucker for beautiful home decor. While stylish pieces will be pleasing to the eye, they might not always function well in the space you have. Or even provide a function at all. When choosing furniture pieces, it’s important to keep form and function in mind to avoid creating a cluttered space. There’s no point buying two items when one will do.

3). Understand colour psychology

It might not sound that important, but colour plays a huge role in the overall atmosphere of your room or home. Because of this, you should follow the rule of understanding colour psychology and thinking carefully before committing to a certain colour scheme. ‘Colour is powerful,’ says South Africa interior designer Gareth Henderson. Bold colours like red or orange are great in small doses, like in a dining room, where you want to liven up a space or stimulate conversation. More cooling tones of blue or green are better in rooms where you want to create calm and relaxation – the bedroom for example. Every colour speaks a language of its own, so it’s worth taking the time to get to know what they’re saying.

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4). Mix it up

Home decor stores are very good at styling rooms to make them look as appealing as possible. But, you don’t really want your home to look like a contrived showroom. Follow this easy decorating rule and give yourself the freedom to purchase items from a variety of places, and include that quirky antique shop or street vendor in your list. As long as you like what you’re buying, it’s bound to ‘match’ your other items. Trust your taste and mix it up.

5). No mini curtains 

One of the more surprising interior design rules is to make sure your curtains hit the floor. Even if the windows aren’t full length, the curtains should always look finished and tidy. Short drapes make a space look incomplete.

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6). No mini rugs

Following on from rule number 5, bigger really is better. Rugs and carpets do tend to be pricey, but it’s worth spending a bit extra so that a rug fills an entire area. Having a small carpet in a big room looks unfinished and affects the general scale of the space. The rule of thumb is that if you can’t find a rug that properly fits the space, and can reach under the front legs of your furniture, skip it altogether. And save up.

7). Layer the lighting

To create a really elegant and cosy atmosphere, try layering the lighting. Having only one light source can feel quite stark, unless you invest in downlights with dimmer switches. Bring a bit of ambiance to a room with hanging pendants, chandeliers or modern sconces. This will keep the space from looking flat and help create a warm, calm atmosphere.

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8). Take a timeless approach

You may want to stay ahead of the trends, but leave that for accessories and easy-to-replace items like backsplashes, cabinet hardware and small furniture. For the long-term, expensive items, it’s safer to take the timeless approach and go for durable designs and subtle colours. This way, the tough-to-replace things like countertops, cabinets and built-in furniture will give your home a good grounding, and you can play with trends in an easier, more affordable way.

9). Go for eye-level art

An interior design pet hate is badly-placed wall art. Too low and you might miss it, too high and it looks awkward marooned close to the ceiling. A good decorating rule to follow is to hang paintings at eye-level. Try for this wherever possible and you’ll have well-placed artworks that are all – more or less – in line with each other.

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10). Don’t crowd a space   

Always allow for space to move around your home in a natural way. You don’t want a crowded room full of furniture to disrupt the natural flow of your lifestyle. Design historian and interiors expert Alessandra Wood says it’s important to leave space to breathe. ‘You should always be mindful of walkways and how you move about space and tailor your layout to preserve the flow,’ she says. Keep furniture out of narrow hallways, and don’t let a room become claustrophobic filled with too much ‘stuff’. A bit of negative space goes a long way.

We hope these top 10 decorating rules have helped. One key thing to remember, though? Sometimes there’s an exception that proves the rule. For the right reason, any one of these might be worth breaking…

4 Responses

  1. John Autard
    | Reply

    Nice post!

    • Stephanie Van Der Plank
      | Reply

      Thanks for the positive feedback, John!

  2. Maxi Stoffberg
    | Reply

    Thx for the tips
    Will help me a lot

    • Stephanie Van Der Plank
      | Reply

      Pleasure! Glad we could help.

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