Let’s face it, with countless home decorating tips floating around, one’s first instinct is to take them as truths. Yet, why is it that we continue to listen to others’ “rules” when it comes time to decorate our own homes? Oftentimes, instead of helping us, these decorating rules are really myths that keep us from designing unique and tasteful spaces.
Hunter Douglas, a leader in custom window fashions, asked top designers from around the country to describe what they believe to be the most common decorating myths. Here are seven of them they debunked, so that now you can too:
Myth #1: Don’t mix floral and plaid prints
“Why ask the patch to match when the interest lies in the juxtaposition and the mix-and-match of color and texture?” asks Katie Leede of Katie Leede & Company, based in Santa Monica, Calif. “Be profligate with your creativity and have fun with color and pattern.” Leede suggests that when using several patterns in your home, try varying the scale of the designs, but keeping to a simple palette to unify.
“Use large florals and small stripes or tiny florals and big plaids,” she explains. “Think of your geometric plaids and stripes more like a solid or a texture that adds structure to the more playful, eye-catching floral. You can achieve this by pulling out one color in the floral and make that the dominant color of the plaid or the stripe.”
At the 2012 Hampton Designer Show House, Leede mixed and matched with a large floral design, smaller geometrics (one of which is her own Luxor fabric) and rich textures, including nature-inspired Hunter Douglas Provenance® Woven Wood Shades at the window.
Myth #2: A view is better without window treatments
Despite common perceptions, window treatments enhance a view rather than take away from it. Case in point, at the 2012 Kips Bay Boys & Girls Decorator Show House, New York City designer James Rixner turned to Hunter Douglas Alustra® Woven Textures® soft screen shades when it came time to decorate the windows in his space and make the most of the view.
“The shades allowed for light and a partial view, masking the unattractive outdoor elements,” Rixner explained. “The fabric shimmered in the afternoon sunshine and the shades diffused the light perfectly. They looked so refined and elegant.” These window dressings also provide a high level of UV-protection, while still permitting light and a view.
Myth #3: Bold colors make a room seem smaller and chop up a home
Most people are afraid of bold colors. They anticipate that bold colors will make a room feel smaller and darker. However, Amie Corley of Amie Corley Interiors, based in Saint Louis, Mo., disagrees. Corley believes it’s helpful to use bold colors in your home as they create contrast and separate room environments.
“Bold colors have a way of making rooms feel sexy and cozy,” says Corley. “They allow light to bounce off the walls and they can frame pieces of art or mirrors in a way that light colors cannot.” People should also not be nervous that strong colors will chop up space according to Corley. “The belief that you need to use the same color throughout your home to make it flow is incorrect. You can still have a flow and use bold colors,” she contends.
Myth #4: Sofas and beds always go against a wall
“The idea that sofas and beds must be pushed up to a wall to anchor them has always puzzled me. I am most intrigued when I’m in a space where the furnishings float and delineate the space. I often use a sofa, chairs and even beds as a way to visually define spaces in a home,” says Robert Passal of Robert Passal Interior & Architectural Design, headquartered in Miami, Fla. “Floating furniture in a space, be it a sofa, chairs, a library table or even a bed, allows you to create interesting and unexpected floor plans and layouts as well as adding visual parameters to the room.”
Passal’s master bedroom at this year’s Hampton Designer Show House did a fine job illustrating this. He positioned a king size bed in the center of a very large master bedroom to effectively create multiple functional spaces, including a seating area, home office and dressing area.
Myth #5: Pairs of furnishings must be placed opposite each other
While Leede likes having pairs, she does not think one needs to go, in her words, “all Noah’s Ark and overdo it. I am starting to play with splitting up pairs of lamps and chairs so they aren’t opposite each other, but scattered throughout the room,” she reports. “The eye still seems to register the balance that comes with symmetry.”
Myth #6: All ceilings must be white
Contrary to popular belief, a pure white ceiling doesn’t always work for a number of reasons. First of all, according to Rixner, in certain rooms it can make the ceiling look lower depending on the wall color. “If you have richly toned walls and your ceiling is pure white, it will effectively give you a lower ceiling, which is something that most people want to avoid,” explains Rixner. “It gives the eye too much of a jolt to go from a wall color to a pure white ceiling.” To avoid this, try incorporating a little wall color on the ceiling.
Rixner adds, “I’ve always called the ceiling a fifth wall. A true professional will treat it with a great deal of concentration.” In fact, the only times that Rixner recommends using a pure white ceiling is in a gallery setting where you don’t want to distract from the presentation of artwork or sculptures by too much color or in an ultra-contemporary home where you don’t want the colors competing with the architecture.
Myth #7: You must pick one style and stick with it
New York City’s Zoya Bograd of Bograd Kids believes it’s more stimulating to use different styles as opposed to one style when it comes time to decorate. “When you use pieces that you have collected over the years and integrate new items as well, you are able to create a more personal living space,” advises Bograd. “For example, with children’s rooms, maybe you have a wardrobe from your grandmother and you want to put in a new crib.”
In this year’s Kips Bay Decorator Show House, Bograd successfully incorporated multiple styles in the nursery she created. “The room had a lot of modern components but the style dated back to 18th-century Gustavian,” says Bograd. “I mixed an 18th-century feel with a 1920s style rug and Hunter Douglas Vignette® Tiered™ Modern Roman Shades in the top-down/bottom-up option, which were perfect shades for the space.” By using all of these styles blended together, Bograd was able to create an ideal room for today’s “princess.”
When it comes time to beautify your home now, you can throw tired decorating myths right out the window.