Top 10 Decorating Rules!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

I've had it.  Really.  With The Rules and such?  Yeah.

Rule.
Stop!  Enough!  Pfffftt!  Yes, I'm flailing my arms about.

Design is a powerful thing and its benefits, its value, its ability to improve lives on small and large scales is vast but it is often pushed aside or belittled.  Such a shame.  When it's not, all these inane Rules are imposed upon it, inhibiting its potential.

I think what frustrates me even more than "The Rules" is a compulsion to stick to these abstract makie-uppie Rules.  Mad strict adherence.  So I'm making my own gosh darn "rules," dammit.

But they're not Rules, see.  They are harmless words grouped in sentences directing you towards the light and freedom.

Top decorating rule #1:  Folks, please -- break, ignore, avoid "The Rules."  Please do not abide by them.  


Small metal rule.
Here's why there are so many articles and blog posts and magazines and whatever about "top decorating rules" to live and die by:  decorating makes people uncomfortable.  That's totally understandable and I get it, there's nothing wrong with that.

I get it too, why there are so many Rules, guides, "secrets," why we designers exist, magazines, blogs, etc. -- many folks feel they know zero about where to begin when it comes to decorating.  A sad misconception compounded by Rule inventions.  

Making design choices can cause fear-based paralysis.  Whether it's comparison that seizes someone, fear of making a mistake, or just the need/desire to have an exacting, formulaic framework in order to feel at ease, decorating can seem overwhelming. 

Tackling something that makes you uncomfortable helps you grow as a person, it frees you. Sorry for the new age-y goobly gook there.  But c'mon, imagine how proud of yourself you'll be if you tackle a seemingly insurmountable feat?  Yeah:  fabulous, fired up, giddy, right?

But so....Do you have Pinterest boards?  Take a close look at them.  Are there things you like?

Then...

Top decorating rule #2:  Try it.  Try anything.  Try the opposite.  Try anything and the opposite together!  Cheeseball but, YOLO.  (Sorry.  I never even say that either.  What has come over me?!)  Seriously though.  You get one chance at this life, enjoy the freakin' day lights out of it.  Make your eyeballs happy.

Ever notice in magazines, articles, blogs, etc. blah blah, the designs that are featured with glorious glossy spreads?  The ones that stir major envy?  The ones where you're wiping the drool off your chin?  Yeah.  It's not bland boring staid spaces.  It's the unusual ones, the ones where folks took chances, risked, made atypical choices, went for it, did something distinctive, went against the grain. 

Didn't steadfastly follow any damn freakin' Rules.

Yeah.  No joke -- go back and look again.  You'll see.


Rolling parallel rule.
Top decorating rule #3:  Don't care.  Do not care what people think, say, or do.  People judge either way, unfortunately.  But pffffffftt, who cares?  Every person on this earth is their own being with colorful tastes, likes, dislikes.  We're all special snowflakes.  Heh.  

Ok yes, you may have to do some compromising or working with others, but together you can find a way to incorporate varying tastes.  It's true.  I swear.  It's sooooo damn simple too:  communicate and listen.

Ya know what it is too?  Fear of putting yourself out there.  "I love that fuzzy fluffy hot pink rug but so-and-so would kill/laugh at/shame me if I ever got it."  Stop it.  Get the damn rug, roll around in it like the special snowflake you are, bask in the glory.  Do not care.

Top decorating rule #4:  Let go of what you believe and open your mind.  Let go of "right," "wrong."  There are no such things.  It's just online click bait, those leading article titles feeding into and exacerbating fears, freaking your comparison issues out.

What works for me may not work for you but that doesn't mean I can't or shouldn't do it.  Nor should you feel obligated to do as I say if it doesn't work for you.  And too, please stop telling others what's "right" or "wrong."  Not that you guys do, I'm sure.  I'm so tired of reading internet comments around the web:  "you can't do that," "that's wrong," "you have to do it this way," "you're not doing it right."

Please.  Really?

Opinions are like a**holes, right?  Everyone's got one.  And hey, that's all they are, opinions.  There is no right nor wrong way to decorate.  Seriously, not kidding.  Design is subjective, open to criticism and everyone will have an opinion.  Others' opinions are not you, ok?


Mini metal scale rule.
Top decorating rule #5:  Do not hang your dining fixture at X height.  Do not hang your artwork at eye level.  (And c'mon, whose eye level?  Mike's is much different than mine, for instance.)  Hang your curtains however you want.  Get whatever size rug you darn well want to.  Don't use only large pieces in large spaces/small in small spaces.  Light colors make spaces look larger/dark makes them look smaller -- what?!  No.

All that matters is you like it.

Do not use a formula to figure out x, y, z.  Know what you end up with?  Formula.  Yawn.

Ever notice in magazines, articles, blogs etc. blah blah the types of decor, the details that get showcased?  What gets the focus, the specifics?  They hung their pictures "too" high, "too" low, all over the place with no apparent rhyme or reason, patterns don't "match," colors don't match, that seemingly odd grouping of objects with monster personality, styles are *gasp* mixed, the art doesn't match the sofa.

One thing that makes me nuts, that some folks assume is once something is done, it's done, set in stone for eternity.  But see, anything that can be done can be undone, removed, redone.  And decor change is exciting, gosh darn it!

Top decorating rule #6:  Mistakes are not mistakes, they're a lesson.

I know, I've harped on this before.

I won't lie, I get nervous when I work on something -- will it live up to my mind's eye?  Am I gonna royally screw this up?  What if my idea was way off?  So I procrastinate, work on something else until I can't take it anymore and have to get that thing done, fears be damned.

And yeah, it totally sucks when we try something and it doesn't work out, especially if we had all our hopes and dreams attached to it.  Yeah, it sucks to spend more hard earned cash to redo.  And yeah, maybe it's embarrassing, defeating.  But hey, fact:  we all make mistakes.  It's an opportunity to redo, and doing is fun.

My dad's wood scale rule.  Seriously, I don't set Finn up like this.  He does it all himself.
Top decorating rule #7:  Perfection is not perfection.  

Huh?  

If you get your space juuust right, juuuust picture perfect and nobody can touch it, live in it, move stuff around, set anything down or sit down, make a little mess, have a little fun, how perfect is it then?

Top decorating rule #8:  Tips and advice are not rules.  They are merely suggestions.  Key word:  suggestions.

There is a difference.  Rules are hard and fast, follow or else you're a terrible human with awful taste and all will laugh and point.  Tips and advice allow for your own thoughts and ideas to be incorporated, are friendly shoves to get you going in one direction or maybe the other.  Ok, shove seems strong.  How about nudge.  Eh, shove -- we all need a kick in the butt sometimes.

Antique Addometer with rule.
Top decorating rule #9:  Rules are stupid and are about making decisions for someone else according to the rule maker's opinions.  Rules serve a good, healthy purpose in other areas of our lives but design and decorating?  Screw that.

Look, I know us designer types are trained in specific methodologies, tried-and-true things that "work,"  why people hire us for having studied these theories and stuff.  And some of it can be accurate but not all of it all the time, every time.  

Maybe it seems I'm mocking and undermining and bashing my own vocation, but I'm not.  I'm advocating.  

Design is subjective.  Shaking things up is good.  As designers (and you can) do.  It's important.  Vital.  Imperative.

Plus too?, The Rules are always changing.  Ever notice?  Yeah.  Therefore:  Rules, schmooles.


Tape rule.
And in relation to rule #9...

Top decorating rule #10:  Believe in yourself.  Trust yourself.  Be yourself.  Make yourself happy.  Don't lose your sense of humor.  You know more than you think you do.  You can think for yourself.  Trust me.  

Reread that last grouping of words again, ok go back again, ok one more time, ok now get out there and do it.  Roar!  A little tough love but I know you can handle it.

Ok, hopefully this is the last time I blather on about stupid design Rules, but sorry I doubt it as there's always a new list emerging daily for me to beat up on.

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