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5 Design Rules That Sometimes Need To Be Broken 

(5 min read) There are some fundamental elements of interior design you just shouldn’t temper with. Rules concerning proportions, furniture size, and free space are there to be followed almost religiously, as they determine how functional the room will be. The rest of the rules, however, are there to be bent, broken, and sometimes even made fun of. 

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Some design rules are just made to be broken. Designer: Jeff Andrews, Photo by Gray Crawford, Image source: Link  

Design rules, just like everything else, can be subjected to cancel culture. Certain rules can even discreetly “break the room”. Just ask Kathleen Kennedy, she broke Star Wars without noticing it. These things happen more often than you know, All of the rules exist for a reason, but the following ones are prone to “cancelation” in various cases. 

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From hero pieces to mixing metals, design rules can be bent if the result is this gorgeous. Designer: Ken Fulk, Image source: Link  

1. A statement piece rule

This particular rule is probably one of the most often applied ones. It means that every room should have a single statement piece, also known as a hero piece. That particular piece is designed to steal the limelight and make a statement. The rest of the room decor is basically there just to revolve around it. However, if the room is large enough, and if your overall interior style leans into maximalism, this rule can be rendered useless. In fact, in that case, I’d say – go crazy! Place strong pieces wherever you like and feel free to revel in the fact that your visitors will be overwhelmed with bravery and beauty as soon as they enter the room.

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A single hero piece done right. Image source: Link  

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Multiple strong pieces throughout the space. Photo by: Patricia Gallego, Image source: Link  

2. Small spaces should be painted in light colors

This rule is largely based on the LRV or light reflective value. LRV measures the amount of light a paint color reflects into the rest of the space. LRV is measured on a scale of 0% to 100%, with 0 being the darkest black that doesn’t reflect any light, and 100 being the lightest white that reflects all the light. So if a room is small you would usually want to make it bigger and light, reflective surfaces are great for that. If you opt to color your walls dark, then your already little room might end up looking like a cave. However, white is reflective, but it is also pretty cold, and that is exactly how it “opens” a space. On that note, if you want that cozy, tucked-up, cushioned feeling, take this rule, write it down, and flush it down the toilet, because it’s worthless. In that case just go for dark, matte walls. You do you. It’s not like the Interior Design Rule SWAT team is gonna come and arrest you. Go for it!

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Small living room with white walls and lots of reflective surfaces. Image: Anna W Page, Image source: Link  

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Small, cozy living room with dark green walls. Image source: Link  

3. Create layers

This is one of the oldest rules in a book. It basically means that you should be mindful when combining patterns, textures, colors, and fabrics in a manner that will bring some warmth and character to the room. It is truly a great rule, BUT… What if you are dealing with a small space prone to cluttering, and you are trying to go for that minimalistic, clean vibe? Then simply throw out everything that requires layering. Layers are great if you are looking to snug up your space, but if you are feeling a bit claustrophobic and smothered, then just forget about them. It’s your space, and if you want to live with just your futon on a laminated floor, that is what you should do.

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Layers upon layers, textures upon textures. Image source: Link  

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Minimal layering for clean and simple effect. Image source: Link  

4. Don’t mix metals

If you go for just one metal finish you will create that cohesive look everyone is talking about much easier. Going for just one metal finish throughout your space will give it a polished and thoughtful appearance. The simple repetition of it here and there will be discreet and appealing to the eye. However, not all of us are that big on being prudent and inconspicuous. Mixing metals will create a unique look, break the monotony and make your room look playful and even more vibrant. That is the main reason why I love breaking this particular rule whenever I get the chance.

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Matching metal finishes for a cohesive look. Photo: Pablo Sarabia, Image source: Link  

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Mixing metals for a unique look. Image Credit: Douglas Friedman, Image source: Link  

5. Define your color pallet 

Creating your color pallet before you start decorating is a great rule. if you start designing your room without any particular set of colors in mind you will probably end up with questionable results. That is why this rule is really a great and often used one. That is also why it can be so thrilling when you break it. Nothing like sudden pop of fuchsia pink or lime green to make the space look fun and enticing. Try breaking your pastel living room with a sudden burst of blood-red roses. the change won’t be permanent, but you’ll get a hint of whether you would love breaking this rule or not.

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Pretty pastel pallet. Image source: Link  

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A burst of Fuschia and yellow in an otherwise uneventful space. Via: Arch Daily, Photo by Ema Peters, Image source: Link  

There you go! We hope we helped make you into a design criminal. Who knew breaking the law could be so fun? Toodles!

Interior_Design - Design_Trends - Interior_Decor_Trends
5 Design Rules That Sometimes Need To Be Broken.

Interior_Design - Design_Trends - Interior_Decor_Trends
5 Design Rules That Sometimes Need To Be Broken.
Interior_Design - Design_Trends - Interior_Decor_Trends
5 Design Rules That Sometimes Need To Be Broken.

Interior_Design - Design_Trends - Interior_Decor_Trends
5 Design Rules That Sometimes Need To Be Broken.
Interior_Design - Design_Trends - Interior_Decor_Trends
5 Design Rules That Sometimes Need To Be Broken.

Interior_Design - Design_Trends - Interior_Decor_Trends
5 Design Rules That Sometimes Need To Be Broken.

Interior_Design - Design_Trends - Interior_Decor_Trends
5 Design Rules That Sometimes Need To Be Broken.




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M. Belosh

M. Belosh

Passionate art enthusiast; avid reader (you can find me on Goodreads under the same name); movie connoisseur; intolerable before my morning coffee.


  1. Anthony
    August 17, 2023 at 10:08 am — Reply

    Ok, I’m in trouble because I love them all. Growing up in the 70s I saw some kinds of room designs. LOL I’m still a bit partial to neutral colors and then add color in paintings, pillows, etc.

  2. Bethany
    August 17, 2023 at 12:22 pm — Reply

    It’s always been my opinion that the only design rule we should ever follow is the rule of what we like! Love this one.

  3. Drew
    August 17, 2023 at 2:49 pm — Reply

    Loved how you fearlessly challenge the traditional design rules! Your article brings a refreshing perspective, encouraging creativity and breaking free from the norm. Embracing these rule-breaking insights will surely lead to exciting and unique design outcomes. Keep pushing those boundaries! 🎨🖌️

  4. Keanna
    August 18, 2023 at 7:01 am — Reply

    Great post! I like to just go with the flow when it comes to my rooms and don’t particularly follow any rules.

  5. Webber
    August 18, 2023 at 10:20 am — Reply

    Really great eye opening ideas here! I think smaller spaces can be painted in darker tones if there’s enough light coming into the room. Love some of the tips!

  6. Lisa
    August 18, 2023 at 10:30 am — Reply

    I don’t know much about design rules but I take your word for it. You are the expert!

  7. R. C.
    August 18, 2023 at 11:22 am — Reply

    Absolutely agree! 🛋️🎨 Following the fundamentals like proportions and furniture size ensures a space that’s not only aesthetically pleasing but also functional. And it’s refreshing to know that the other rules leave room for creative play. That’s where true uniqueness and personal style shine through! 🌟

  8. Jane
    August 18, 2023 at 4:56 pm — Reply

    I think you’ve shown it again that beautiful things do happen when you break some rules. Creativity has no boundaries. And you proved it again.

  9. adriana
    August 19, 2023 at 10:42 am — Reply

    Oh these are great tips – I love #2 because a small powder room always looks good in a bold color!

  10. Tracy
    August 19, 2023 at 11:16 am — Reply

    Absolutely agree! Balancing the fundamental principles of interior design like proportions and furniture size is crucial for creating a functional space. But it’s also refreshing to embrace the creative freedom that comes with bending or breaking the rules. That’s where personal style and unique character shine through, making a space truly one-of-a-kind. Finding the right balance between adherence and experimentation is the key to a harmonious and captivating interior.

  11. StarTraci
    August 19, 2023 at 2:06 pm — Reply

    I am a big believer in the “know the rules so you can break them” line of thought. I also ascribe to the make your space make you happy, so I like the post a lot. Do what feels good but with a touchstone to what works in your space.

  12. Briana
    August 22, 2023 at 3:34 am — Reply

    I agree with these. Sometimes rules need to be broken to get best results especially in fashion and art.

  13. Mrs. Donnelly
    August 22, 2023 at 5:44 am — Reply

    I do like to have a feature wall, also having light colours in a small room, where you can add darker or more vibrant colours with cushions and throws etc

  14. Angela
    August 22, 2023 at 8:29 am — Reply

    I have no idea about these five rules. Thanks for sharing all these with us. Very informative!

  15. Melanie E
    August 22, 2023 at 10:01 am — Reply

    Number 2, small spaces should be painted in a light colour is a really good one. This is something we do when decorating a property as rooms really do look larger. You can warm it up with accessories easily so problem solved!

  16. Tam Tam
    August 22, 2023 at 10:24 am — Reply

    I think your space should always reflect your personality at the end of the day. It’s your home and you need to feel at peace in it too. Great tips on bending the rules and making it work!

  17. Guss
    August 22, 2023 at 11:30 am — Reply

    Finding the Balance: Embracing the Rules and Unleashing Creativity! Nailing the fundamentals like proportions and furniture size is key, but it’s the playful bending and breaking of the other rules that truly make a space uniquely yours. Let your imagination run wild!

  18. Moni
    August 22, 2023 at 5:44 pm — Reply

    Hey, you’ve cracked the code on design rules! Your article on breaking those creative barriers is liberating. Exploring the edge of design norms can lead to remarkable results. Keep inspiring us to color outside the lines and craft uniqueness. 🎨✨🖌️

  19. Fatima
    August 23, 2023 at 6:22 am — Reply

    I love when people go for their own design trends. It really makes a difference and shows their personality as well.

  20. Ayya
    August 23, 2023 at 8:18 am — Reply

    Design Freedom Unleashed! Loving the perspective on interior design here. While proportions and functionality are sacred, the creative boundaries can be playfully challenged. Let’s embrace the art of breaking the rules and adding our personal touch to every space.

  21. Rhian Scammell
    August 23, 2023 at 11:46 am — Reply

    I think it’s as much about what you like. If you like your space and it functions for whatever you need it for it doesn’t matter what rules you may ‘break’ x

  22. Mak t. R.
    August 24, 2023 at 8:43 am — Reply

    Balancing Act of Design! Loving the perspective on interior design here. While some rules are set in stone for functionality, the freedom to bend and break the rest adds the spark of creativity. Let’s have some fun and craft spaces that reflect our unique personalities!

  23. Criss Rewak
    August 24, 2023 at 9:07 am — Reply

    I agree! These 5 rules sometimes need to be broken. When building a home we need to follow rules but not every time. LOL

  24. Rose S.
    August 25, 2023 at 6:17 am — Reply

    I have never deliberately thought about it before but I don’t think I’d like mixed metals either. It would feel off to me.

  25. Drana
    August 25, 2023 at 6:45 am — Reply

    Like anything else, we sometimes need to be the leaders and take risk for innovation to really put a mark on our creation.

  26. Nadalie
    August 25, 2023 at 1:52 pm — Reply

    I love all the color pops all around! Such beautiful rooms and pretty and unique designs.

  27. Sami cock
    August 31, 2023 at 9:59 pm — Reply

    I love when rooms have so much colour! It makes you instantly feel happy when you enter!

  28. krystle cook
    September 8, 2023 at 8:56 am — Reply

    I think I prefer small rooms to be painted in light colors. Dark colors make the room feel like a dungeon to me and close the space in.

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