General Rules of Design

Do you ever google questions relating to design? Like, "how high should my chandelier hang above my table" or "how do you mix pillow patterns?" Hopefully this post will help compile a lot of your Frequently Asked Design Questions into one place! I've come up with a ton of answers to FAQ's I get, along with a couple I feel like need to be mentioned, then I asked some of my friends to give me their best tips as well. This post is chalk full of quick, practical, general design "rules". (Of course, in design all rules come with exceptions, but these are pretty straightforward and always work!)

- Curtains need to touch the floor or even do a slight puddle. If you have 8' ceilings, you'll want to order 96" drapes to ensure they touch the floor. You might have to get them tailored a touch if you don't like puddling, but puddling is better than high waters ;) 9' ceilings? 108" drapes. Anything over that usually will need to be custom made, as big box stores don't typically carry longer than that.

- Hang your curtains as high above your window molding as possible to create the effect of higher ceilings or simply to highlight your windows.'
- Chandeliers should be 32-36" above the table depending on your height.

- Drawer pulls should be about 2/3 the side of the drawer. On extra long drawers, use two pulls.

- To mix metals, use the buddy system. Every finish you have should have at least one other thing in the same finish. For example, if you have black door handles, tie in the black through black on light fixtures. Slip in some hold in the hardware on the kitchen pulls and maybe a touch of gold in accessories or on the kitchen pendants. 

- Another way to mix metals is to keep the metals the same on every plane. So cabinet hardware might be one finish, while the sink faucet and towel bars are another, and the lighting and plumbing is another. 

- The center of artwork should be hung at about 55-60" off the ground

- Your artwork should be about 2/3 the size of whatever it's going above (a dresser, couch, bed, etc.)

- Every wall does NOT need something hanging on it. There's something to be said for negative space.

- When hanging gallery walls, make sure there are only a couple inches in between each frame. Same goes for if you're hanging two or three pieces next to each other in a row...hung too far apart will not create continuity. Hanging 2-4" apart will make them look purposeful, which is what we want!

- Speaking of gallery walls: these aren't the only ways to decorate your walls! One large piece of art or big framed photo, a fun clock, textured wall art (like this or this), wood signs, letters to spell a word or phrase, succulent wall, a plate collection, or a mirror are all great ideas. Wall sconces are also a great accent on either side of one piece of art!

- Scale is important. Simply put, big room with high ceilings? You'll need larger scaled furniture to fill it out. Hanging dinky artwork or putting a tiny chair or low couch in a two-story room will make it feel incredibly small compared to the height and grandness of your room.

- Want an easy way to get your duvet in the duvet cover without it bunching? This video is a MUST watch. Thank me later ;) #lifechanged

- Too big of a room? (What a good problem to have!) Creates separate, more intimate spaces by zoning off sections of the room for different things. Like, a cozy reading nook with a pair of chairs and a side table, a TV watching area with a sectional, and a play area with a small kids table. Something (almost!) every "zone" needs is a rug. It'll help clearly define the area and help this big space become more intentional. 

- If you have short ceilings, there are a couple things you can do to counteract that and still make your space feel tall and open. 1. Hang curtains as high up as possible. 2. Build or create the look of built-ins that go all the wall from floor to ceiling. 3. Paint all walls in sight the same color (typically I go light-medium in the case of a short ceiling unless going for a more dramatic look). 4. Get some tall plant(s) for the room to continue to draw your eye up.

- I once heard every room needs a touch of black, and I happen to love the advice and have seen how much sophistication black adds to a room!

- When in doubt, decorate in 3's. This means to group items in 3's (or odd numbers) to create unity, instead of perfectly spacing decorations out. 

- Just like walls, not all all countertops need something. In a kitchen, I think it's great to have one or two "vignettes" depending on the size of your counter space. In my old apartment I had hardly any counter space, but I still did a cute set up on one of the areas. My favorite vignettes would be a coffee / tea station complete with a tray for mugs, a recipe box and cookbook stack, or a pretty fruit bowl or cake stand on top of some books.

We're In This Together:
I've asked a couple designer friends to weigh in with their best design "rules" and suggestions as well, so you don't just hear them coming from me. Read on for more!

From The DIY Playbook...

Make sure your rug is large enough for your space. Bigger is usually better.

- Avoid buying generic home decor. Instead, collect pieces that are personal and tell your story.

- Don't buy an entire furniture set. Mix & match for a unique and layered look.

- Ditch the pillows that come with your new couch and buy new ones with varying patterns, textures, and colors! (more on how to do this below)

From Hannah Matthew Design...

- Layering window treatments adds both form and function to a space. I particularly love layering drapery panels over woven wood blinds.  The options are endless with the drapery hardware, style of woven wood, and drapery fabric, so the combination can really be tailored to fit any space.  There's just something about the look that lends an elegant yet warm and "finished" feel to a room.

From Lark & Linen...

- When mixing pillows a good rule of thumb is to have one solid (bonus points for some texture), one small scale pattern and one large scale pattern. Stick within the same colour palette and you'll win every time!

From The Inspired Room...

- Using a color three times in fabrics, backdrop elements, or accessory displays creates a cohesive feel in a room.

- An easy interior design equation for your color palette is 60-30-10. The main room color should cover about 60 percent of the room, the secondary color should make up 30 percent, and the accent color is the remaining 10 percent.

- Add white to a darker paint color used in one room to create a new complementary paint color for an adjoining room. Mix the exact same paint brand and sheen of paint to ensure the paint goes on smoothly and evenly when mixed together.

- Layers of pillows will add height and dimension to your bed. For a stylishly layered queen bed, select a combination of at least two Euro-style pillows (big square pillows), two standard pillows with shams, and a center accent pillow. For a playful look, mix patterned or colored shams. Create the feel you love with different pillow fabric textures: grain sack, faux fur, knit covers, or pillows with a surprising metallic sheen.

- A common lighting problem is a room with only one center light that leaves the corners dark and dreary, especially at night. Beyond that primary light and natural light, additional sources can make a big difference! Incorporate variety through table lamps, wall sconces, lanterns, string lights, task lamps, under cabinet lighting, etc.

- I love using indoor/outdoor rugs inside! They are easy to keep clean even with dogs. When they get dirty, I wipe them off with a rag or take them outside and host them down (the rugs, not the dogs!).

*get even more tips in Melissa's books Simple Decorating & The Inspired Room.

From Our Fifth House...

- Always measure your doorways before ordering large furniture pieces like sofas.  There's nothing worse than buying something that you can't get into your space.  Ask me how I know.  ;) 

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Thank you for stopping by! If you have a specific question, please email me at I always reply to emails! Have a blessed day! xoxo

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