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Decorating Rules – 10 Cool Fail Safe Decorating Rules!

By: Decorated Life Team |

Decorating rules.  They serve a purpose as a guide. Some you can break, ditch and toss for something else. The rules below work. Always.

Patterns – Source : HGTV

Dependable Decorating Do’s

From area rugs, sofa styles, neutral color schemes, dining tables and more here is a list of 10 dependable decorating do’s.

1. Sofa Styles

There are two sofa styles you can depend on-

1. High square-armed tuxedo sofa

Tuxedo Sofa – Source Pinterest

2. Traditional Charles of London sofa which is curvier.

Charles of London Sofa – Source Pinterest and Bing Images

These sofa styles have passed the test of time. If these sofa styles don’t suite, consider the lawson with medium arms, the bridgwater with low arms or the armless slipper.  Is one long cushion the best solution for you or two or more cushions better?

Decorating Tip

  1. Buy the best quality sofa you can afford. A good sofa will last 10 years and a high-end sofa up to 25 years. Divide your sofa cost by 10 or 25 to see if the annual cost is worth it.
  2. Run your hand behind the sofa. You want a padded back. A hollow back is a sign of poor construction, which can lead to fabric tears and  internal structural damage.
  3. Make sure it’s comfortable with lots of leg room and back support. Sit, lie down, put your feet up until you are happy.
  4. Measure. Make sure it can squeeze through doorways, up stairs and corners to get to its final destination.

2. Reliable Rugs – Sea Grass.

If you don’t like or want silk carpets or antique oriental rugs consider sea grass! It’s wonderfully reliable; looks great as wall to wall or area rugs.

Sea Grass rug – Source Pinterest

Sea grass is made from a number of reedy plants. It has a green tint and is highly durable. It costs less than sisal and jute but is not particularly absorbent, so it’s best not to use it in moist rooms or humid climates.

Decorating Tip

  1. With hardwood floors, leave a border of about 1-ft from the wall. This creates a great contrast for your area rugs and helps define your room.
  2. Reduce your border to 6 inches if you are hiding bad floors or unfortunate looking tiles. It’s worth every cent for the decor kudos.
  3. Use striped or patterned cotton dhurries, flokatis or area rugs on top of your sea grass for a more interesting layered look.

Not a sea grass fan?

  1. Paper carpet could be just for you. It’s made from paper cords coated in a protective wax. It’s very strong and more absorbent than other plant fibers.

3. The Best Long Window, Tall Ceiling Look

You can easily trick the eye into thinking your windows are longer and your ceilings are taller.

Source – Apartment Therapy

  1. Add something tall to draw the eye up. It could be a Greek column, a tall piece of art, great curtains or a serious light fitting.
  2. Hang curtain rods 2 inches from the ceiling or bottom of the crown.
  3. Hang curtains about an 1 inch onto the floor. Longer and they look untidy and become dust collectors.
  4. Extend your curtain rod 4 inches beyond the outside of the window molds. Then add finials. 
  5. Align a Roman shade with the top of your curtain panel. Close the shade to the top of the casing.

4. Chandeliers Over Dining Tables

Chandeliers should be about 35 inches directly above the middle of the dining room table.

Decorating Tip

  1. Your chandelier is a dramatic focal point.
  2. It shouldn’t be the only source of light. Wall sconces, lamps and candle light add mood and extra lighting.
  3. Clear globes,  not frosted, give the best colored light refraction through the crystal.
  4. With exposed globes, use low wattage globes. The light is more flattering for your guests and not as bright or hot to sit under.
  5. To conceal the chandelier chain, decorate it with fabric which is at least twice as long as the chain. Bunch it up to create a luxurious look.

5. Area Rugs as a Room’s Focal Point

Area Rugs – Source: Splendid Willow

  1. Begin with your area rug as your room’s first defining focal point, not your sofa.
  2. This anchors the room and creates boundaries.
  3. A small rug in front of a large sofa makes a room look smaller.
  4. A small rug in a large room makes your rooms look smaller.

As a rule – be generous!

Decorating tip

  1. Be generous. How big? Big enough to place all your furniture on it. A large rug ties your furniture into the space.
  2. If you can’t afford a large rug, go traditional and place sofas around the rug and your coffee table on top. Your sofas create the boundaries.
  3. Under a dining table, your rug should allow for chairs to be in the pulled out position.
  4. Use newspaper or masking tape to measure out your perfect rug size.
  5. Use rugs to create or define different zones in a room. These rugs should harmonize, not match.

6. Furniture Placement

Furniture lined up against the wall looks like it’s waiting for execution.  By placing furniture flush against the wall you create a finite boundary and decorating is all about illusion. To make a room feel larger place furniture towards the middle of the room.

If there is space behind the wall, even a few inches, the room must be bigger, right?

Furniture placement – Source –Traditional Home

Decorating Tips

  1. Place a long table or bench behind your sofa. Place a lamp or vase on it to create height and interest.
  2. Take chairs out of the corners to make your room feel bigger.

7. Decorating Using the 60-30-10 Rule

You can get effective decorating using the 60-30-10. This rule can be used in lots of ways.

  1. 60 percent hue (color).
  2. 30 percent visual interest and
  3. 10 percent is that bit of spark.

60-30-10 rule – Source – Pinterest

Think of it as layers. You can break it down further-

  1. 60%  – dominant color like the color of your walls.
  2. 30% – secondary color – this can be your upholstery
  3. 10% – accent color using accent pieces, art or arrangements.

8. 80/20 rule for Decorating with Neutrals

This is a great rule to follow if you love neutrals.

  1. 80% of your room is decorated in neutral colors
  2. 20% is pops of color.

9. 80/20 Decorating Rule for Mixing Styles

The 80/20 rule is also great for mixing furniture styles.

  1. 80% of your decorating is one predominant style
  2. 20% is something else.

Decorating Tip

80 % Modern or Contemporary Styles

  1. Modern or contemporary styles can look stark, bland, glossy or sharp. Add rustic wooden chairs in a similar color or tone .
  2. A vintage mirror over a modern console.
  3. Add classic chairs to a contemporary coffee table.
  4. A vintage or old style chandelier can look great over a modern dining table.

80% Vintage Victorian, Georgian or Colonial Styles

  1. Traditional design themes can look a little dated. Use 20% cleaner fabric colors and forget heavy prints.
  2. Add streamlined, frames, mirrors and modern or contemporary lamps and vases for your 20%.

10. Mixing Patterns

Patterns – Source : HGTV

Patterns are great for creating interest. But you must use at least three different patterns to get a great layered look. The key to mixing patterns the right way is to vary the scale, from small to large.

  1. Pattern 1: Large-scale pattern. This makes the strongest statement so choose wisely.
  2. Pattern 2: Half the size of the first pattern. Use a totally different pattern such as floral, plaid or geometric with some of the same colors.
  3. Pattern 3: Use two or three of the colors in patterns 1 or 2.
  4. Pattern 4: Something much smaller like a tiny check or printed texture in a small scale.

That’s my short list of reliable fail safe decorating rules. If you’d like to get hold of the must have DIY Cheat Sheet click here. Remember to visit on Facebook for lots more photos and ideas, and share and save your best finds on Armchair Exchange it’s a hub for all the best finds.