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Essential Design Rules

25 February 2022

The Top 6 Essential Design Rules You Must Never Break

Rules – we all live by them. Most exist for good reason. But isn’t it true that some are made to be broken? That really depends on the situation. There are such rules in interior design, of course. It is risky to break these industry rules but sometimes the payoff is wonderful. However, the below rules should never be broken.

Measure, Measure, Measure!

You simply must get your measurements right before you do anything else. Measure, check, measure, check, then measure and check again. There is nothing to lose in measuring repeatedly and ensuring you’re writing down the correct scale, but plenty of harm will come from a mix-up, including and especially the huge cost of an interior design project. Hanging curtains that are too short may not fully cover the window. Even if they do, it can ruin an otherwise perfect aesthetic. Too long, and your curtains will snag and damage. Ditto niche corners and under units for furniture pieces.

The Top 6 Essential Design Rules You Must Never Break -Measure

The 10-30-60 Rule

The 10-30-60 rule is one of the most important rules in aesthetics for interior design, but what is it? It’s a simple concept: choose three complementary colours, decide which should be the dominant colour and use that for 60% of the colour scheme. Next, choose one of the remaining colours as a secondary shade and apply it to 30% of the décor. Finally, use the third chosen complementary colour as an accent, totalling around 10% of the design.

  • Dominant colours go on floor coverings: rugs and carpets, and walls
  • Secondary colour for furniture pieces
  • Accent colours for throws, picture frames, and other accessories

The 10-30-60 Rule

Form and Function

Always consider both function and form when choosing any piece of furniture and make them appropriate for the setting. A furniture piece near an exit way, for example, should not just be visually striking to welcome visitors – it should also fulfil a function. Flat surfaces and drawers are best so residents can store keys and other stuff they don’t want to carry while inside. It’s a good idea for coffee tables and other lounge pieces to have conspicuous drawers to store remotes, magazines and so on if you don’t like clutter. Of course, if you like a home to look lived in then you might seek a coffee table with plenty of surface area.

Avoid Matching Decor

Nobody lives in a show home and although it’s tempting to make your home “Instagrammable” in the long run, this is something you must live with day in, day out. It isn’t vital for everything to match, and no interior designer is ever going to tell a homeowner that this is how things must be. Nothing in life is perfect and it doesn’t need to be. If anything, the lack of perfection gives your space some character and cosiness. Another ratio rule is 80/20: 80% of new purchases should be the sale style while the remaining 20% should defy that.

Avoid Matching Décor

Layered Lighting

The standard is to put lighting at the centre of the room with a few strategically placed lamps. However, that doesn’t necessarily always work best – especially if you have dark corners. Consider natural light direction and source and use it effectively with well-placed mirrors. Then consider where to put artificial lighting like main lights, wall lights, and lamps. Ask yourself: how can you best make use of light in this room while not overly relying on electricity? Also, when you have just one light source, it can fall flat especially at night.

Curtains and Rug Sizing

Bigger is not always better. Too big, and they take up too much space – rugs especially can become a hindrance in a room. However, when stuff is too small it will also stand out for all the wrong reasons. Don’t be tempted to buy something that doesn’t fit while telling yourself that you will “find a use for it” or “make it work somewhere” because it is inevitable that you will not. If a rug or curtains don’t fit your décor, don’t waste your money. The best rule here is that you choose such soft furnishings to the right scale. For rugs, make sure you have enough space to fit your furniture around them to avoid damage from movement.

Curtains and Rug Sizing

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