The old adage “rules are meant to be broken” is truest when it comes to interior design. The best design is the one that flaunts the rules. We cannot be afraid of making a mistake or feel we have to follow conventional wisdom. Every room has its own personality and is as different as the person who lives there. Those who color outside the lines show the most imagination and creativity. Those who walk the straight and narrow leave nothing behind to be remembered.

Here are 5 rules you’ve probably been told that you need to forget:

1. Don’t mix and match patterns. – It’s easy to live with solids or throw in a stripe or a floral, but you need to go further. If you feel uneasy with mixing more – then stick to a palette like just white and black or go to the opposite sides of the spectrum, like orange stripes with purple plaids. Mixing patterns adds visual interest and texture to a space. So go on and put that plaid with the leopard print. Cover dining room chairs in mismatched fabrics. Pile on contrasting sofa pillows for that lived in, at the beach kind of look.

mixed patterns

2. Bedrooms are bedrooms, kitchens are kitchens. – In today’s world we live in every room, we eat in front of the TV, we use our devices in bed. So who says a room has to fit a mold? If you want to put a love seat in the breakfast area, do it! If you want to make your formal dining room the living room, go for it. This is especially true in an urban lifestyle. Space may be at a premium – use it wisely, give up on believing in labels. I have a client who has her piano in the entry. Why? Because she likes the light there and it makes her happy. You gotta go with that.

3. Use light colors in a small room. – Wrong! Small rooms demand impact and to hold their own with their larger siblings. A powder room in chocolate brown or high gloss pink says “look at me” and draws you in. Bold color statements give an identity and give the space that wow factor your home needs. Same with small rooms and furniture. Place one big chair and a table – keeping it simple but larger than life. Far better than too many small pieces, just a few actually enlarges the visual.

4. Stick to one style or period. – Well, yeah, if you want to be boring and have your room look like you bought it right off the showroom floor! Mid Century Modern and antiques look great together. Contemporary art with your Grandmothers Chippendale will give your room that one of a kind, unique look that tells the world you know what you are doing! Give your rooms character and have fun with it. Infuse your home with multiple styles and if you are hesitant, start small – a bookcase of old and new books with old family photos and a contemporary accessory gets you going!

assymetrical bedroom

5, Keep your rooms symmetrical. – One sofa, two matching chairs and a coffee table. That’s pretty much what we are taught. I’m a pretty OCD person myself, but asymmetry can free your soul. Hang art work to one side of the sofa, instead of right in the middle. Move your bed off-center to accommodate different size night tables, even different eras (See Rule 4). I love large windows with drapes swooped to one side, a la Lauren Bacall, leaving the other side open for the woodwork to show.

If you love it, bring it home. Have fun – be creative – go ahead, break some rules. And then make your own!