INTERIOR DESIGN RULES: Which to Follow and Which to Break

Extract from My Bedroom is an Office & Other Interior Design Dilemmas by Joanna Thornhill, published by Laurence King Publishing.

They say rules were made to be broken, but in order to do that, you must know them in the first place. Here are five common interior design truisms, and how to interpret them to make them work for you.

Liesbeth Disbergen, Sloppop Yeah

Liesbeth Disbergen, Sloppop Yeah

1. They say: Follow the 60/30/10 rule when choosing colours. Sixty per cent of the room should contain the dominant colour and thirty per cent the secondary colour, leaving ten per cent for accent pieces. We say: Loosely following this makes sense since going all-out colour crazy can result in a frenetic, disjointed feel, especially if you’re not sure what you’re doing – but don’t let it bog you down. Sometimes the most successful schemes are those that incorporate ‘a little bit of wrong’, which actually gives depth and soul to a space.

The Lovely Drawer

The Lovely Drawer

2. They say: Use symmetry to create a balanced space. We say: It’s true that our brains are programmed to find symmetry pleasing, even therapeutic. But too much of it in a small space can feel bland and dull, and possibly even overwhelming. Try using a symmetrical approach with key elements or focal points – a circular table directly in the centre of a square room, for example – but break it up with an off-centre sideboard or ornaments arranged together in odd numbers.

3. They say: Decorate with natural colours. We say: Mother Nature is not to be trifled with, and she certainly knows what she’s doing, though ‘natural’ certainly needn’t mean neutral. Look at the way she balances hues and proportions (in fact, we think she might be following the 60/30/10 rule), whether it’s in the sombre, muted tones of a stormy sky or the vibrant, unexpected contrasts of a bird of paradise.

Little Greene Paint Company

Little Greene Paint Company

4. They say: Choose furniture and flooring that are proportionate to the size of the room. We say: Common wisdom might dictate that the smaller the room, the more diminutive the objects you should put in it, but in fact this can create a cluttered, broken look. Think less, but bigger: go bold and choose a show-stopping L-shaped sofa over a two-seater and armchairs to act as a bold and inviting focal point, for example. The same rule can be applied to flooring, using largeformat tiles or wide planks.

Little Greene Paint Company

Little Greene Paint Company

5. They say: Stick to white or light tones in a small space. We say: While white seems an obvious choice – it reflects light and brightens dark corners – there’s also a danger that it will feel bland, and if there’s not enough to attract the eye the space will ultimately still look small (albeit pale). A vibrant hue might not be to everyone’s taste, but it can give a luxurious jewellery-box vibe, while dark tones add atmosphere and mood as well as highlighting interesting architectural details, creating an inviting sanctuary.

My Bedroom is an Office & Other Interior Design Dilemmas by Joanna Thornhill, published by Laurence King Publishing (1).jpg

My Bedroom is an Office & Other Interior Design Dilemmas

by Joanna Thornhill,

published by Laurence King.

Available at www.laurenceking.com, RRP £14.99.