By Jamie Wiebe
Even if you’re an ardent amateur decorator, starting from scratch in a new place can be intimidating. So many white walls screaming out for paint, so much bare hardwood dying for furniture. What’s a new homeowner to do?
Maybe you don’t want to shell out for an interior decorator and besides, you have Pinterest on your side. Hey, you can do this thing yourself, right? All you need to do is follow the rules of the decor road. You know the ones we’re talking about — the nuggets of conventional wisdom like “don’t paint a small room with a dark color” or “avoid mixing metals.”
But not every decor rule should be considered gospel — in fact, some are downright myths. Here, our expert designers clear up nine misconceptions about how you should decorate your home. So get moving and decorate your place already!
Myth No.1: Ceilings must be white
White ceilings might seem like the norm, but they aren’t right for every room.
“White ceilings can actually be distracting if there is no other white in the room,” says Dee Schlotter, the senior color marketing manager for PPG.
Deep-emerald walls look strange with a blazing-bright ceiling. That cheerful yellow you carefully selected for the kitchen seems too bold with the ceiling so stark white. A complementary color — or even a coordinating off-white shade — can prevent distraction, Schlotter says.
Myth No. 2: Everything should match perfectly
The days of matching and monochromatic looks are over. Instead, cohesive coordination reigns supreme. Think: Wood tones, lush fabrics, and colours that harmonize with (not identically match) your walls. Otherwise, you risk dull, monotone decor that bores every visitor who passes through your doors.
Look at the undertones of the primary color scheme. It does take more time and effort to coordinate versus match, but your room will look and feel more cohesive, chic, and likely will seem to be a better reflection of your personal style.
Myth No. 3: Less furniture equals more space
You might believe paring down your furniture collection will make your small room feel massive — so there’s more room for activities, right? — but be prepared for some disappointment after the final Craigslist buyer trucks away the love seat. In fact, the empty space feels tiny.
A fully furnished room will actually make the space feel bigger. It’s counterintuitive, but having the right amount and right-size pieces in a layout will make your room feel bigger, better, and help you breathe a sigh of relief.
If your massive sectional overwhelms the space, consider sizing down with a new couch — but don’t ditch the seating entirely.
Myth No. 4: Dark walls make a space look small
White or neutral tones aren’t the only shades allowed in a tiny room. Far from off-limits, dark walls can even size up the space.
“Covering all of the surfaces of a room in one colour makes it larger,” Schlotter says. Choose a hue that moves you — warm, rich, buttery, soothing — and “envelop the space,” she says. Yes, even the ceiling.
“One unified colour fades defining lines, which enhances the coziness of the space and makes it feel larger,” she says.
Myth No. 5: Decor pieces can’t touch
A couch 5 feet from a side table and another 5 feet from the coffee table feels museum-like, not comfy-cozy. And contrary to popular belief, table decor is allowed to slightly obscure your artwork. (It can actually look better!)
Yes, your lamp can cover the bottom corner of the mirror, and your armchair would love to live in front of your bookcase Just like a sandwich, each ingredient on top of the other makes for a much better recipe than each piece alone. Bon appetit!
Myth No. 6: You can’t have nice furniture if you have kids
Yes, skip the pricey white leather armchair, unless you’re eager to dress it up with crayon. But you don’t have to ditch all of the expensive and lovely pieces you’ve collected over the years. You can even buy new, elegant furniture that make you happy — even with your rugrats scrambling around.
The key is to choose and position your pieces carefully, and to aim for indestructible materials and finishes. It might seem counterintuitive, but splurging on well-made furniture could end up saving you in the long run. It’s more likely to hold up to years of abuse than the cheap models you think you’re resigned to own.
Myth No. 7: Never mix metals
Gone are the days when it was taboo to mix metals. With the infusion of brilliant golds, brushed nickels, and rich coppers into our decors, designers have found themselves asking: Why limit ourselves to just one? It turns out, you can have it all.
Mixed metallics is not only a good thing, in my opinion, it’s a better choice than confining yourself and your design to one or the other.
Some metals, such as copper and gold, contribute warm tones — others (think silver and nickel) are cooler. Together, they create “a healthy balance” that adds texture, glamour, and dimension to your space.
Myth No. 8: Art goes up high
Move that art lower — please, designers plea. Hang your art like a museum does: at eye level. Placed properly, the glory of your collection can be fully appreciated by your guests, who won’t have to crane their necks.
Try moving your pieces down so as to sit just above the center point of the walls. Think about how art looks in a gallery. Follow suit, and bring it down.
Myth No. 9: You should always be on trend
You can read plenty about which interior design trends you should incorporate into your home, and which ones are so last year. But here’s something people don’t say enough: You shouldn’t let Pinterest dictate your decor decisions. Following design trends blindly creates a soulless space. Soulless as in dead.
Only infuse trends into your home if it’s one you truly like and can live with longer than a year. It’s unrealistic to paint your walls every year or to add that mirrored chest to the dining room because ‘it’s in.’
Love a style but hesitant to go all-in on a trend? Consider using smaller pieces to incorporate popular fabrics and styles into your home.
Pillows, throws, and art are easy ways to infuse a trendy look without breaking the bank or generating buyer’s remorse. And once you’re tired of the chevron, or the Swiss cross, or the trellis, donate the piece, take a tax deduction, and try something new.