Lifestyle - 12 Mar, 2019

The interior design rules that are OK to break

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When it comes to style, there’s no denying each person has their own tastes and preferences, but for as long as we’ve been turning houses into homes, there has been a textbook set of interior design rules to follow. From colour coding to Feng Shui, there’s a lot to stay on top of.

Thankfully, the time has come to move on and do things our own way. Libby Robinson of Coco Republic breaks down some of the design world’s biggest old wives’ tales.

It’s finally time to throw that interior decorating rulebook straight out of the double-hung sash window.


Go match-less

“Do your best to refrain from purchasing living room or furniture suites – i.e. a matching dining table, sideboards and coffee table – all from the same range.

Sure, it’s important that everything in the room is co-ordinated and pieces have details or finishes that link them together, but a more creative or subtle approach to this will always produce a better and more individual space.”

Focus on size, not colour

“Scale and proportion are the most important things to great right within any space. Incorrect rug and art sizing and placement is something that I see daily. Having a larger rug size is something people are sometimes scared to explore but this is the anchor of any room, so ensuring the scale is right is a really important first step rather than an afterthought.

The same goes with artwork. Consider the pieces you might use within the space before you start working on the furniture. It’s important to ensure there’s a balance between artwork and furniture scale.”

Hang out for a hero

“A hero piece is always worth having, however this doesn’t always need to be as obvious as a stand out coffee table or dining table. Styling, layering and artwork can contribute to transforming a somewhat plain space to a very detailed space with a lot of personality.”

interior design rules to break

Be brave but organised

“You definitely need to mix your shapes within a room, however this needs to be planned so you don’t end up with one of every space. Given that most sofas are typically rectangular, side tables, coffee tables and dining tables are the next keys pieces you can start to consider when thinking about shape and scale.

Generally, your dining table shape is dictated by the space it sits in. From here you then want to balance out the other elements. For example, if you have a round dining table, you may consider a different shape coffee table so that you don’t end up with too many circles.”

Get personal

“Basing your design on the principles of something like Feng Shui is very dependent on who you are and what you will personally achieve by incorporating these guidelines into your home.

I have worked with clients who swear by Feng Shui and have had masters come through their homes to provide a report, which then determines the way the home is designed and furnished. I’ve also worked with other clients who are more focused on achieving things such as maximising space or bringing in light.

As a designer, understanding your clients’ needs first tends to determine whether incorporating something like Feng Shui is appropriate. I think it’s really important to understand the basics so you can educate your client throughout the process and explain why you may or may not have incorporated certain elements or concepts.”

Listen to your instincts

“Having an intuitive creative flair is important when decorating and will ultimately give you an individual look time and time again. However, there are certain principles that should always be at the basis of your design in relation to your finishes, fixings, furniture and decorative details. Colour, balance, scale, proportion and harmony need to be considered as you put together your desired interior scheme.”

Words by Alana Wulff.

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