By Alyssa Clough

Published on March 16, 2016

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Photography by THEDESIGNVILLA.COM

While having a few guidelines to follow when you decide to decorate a home (like hanging your drapes correctly and not buying your rug too small) is helpful, we like to think that nobody should be confined to hard and fast rules when it comes to expressing their style and discovering their aesthetic. So we thought it would be fun to break down all the rules people might have told you to follow that you should totally feel free to break. Read on for 15 rules you can—and should—ditch in favor of doing your own thing.

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Photography by MYDOMAINE.COM

don’t paint your walls dark

Yawn. It’s been proven time after time that painting your walls black—or any other dark color—doesn’t make a room feel smaller. Take a risk and opt for a darker color to create a moodier vibe. 

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Photography by MYDOMAINE.COM

don’t mix prints

LOL! We love mixing prints. Whether it’s pillows, bedding, or rugs, we’re there. There are no rules when it comes to mixing prints except for doing what feels right and fits your personal style.

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Photography by THEEVERYGIRL.COM

don’t mix metals

This applies to wood, too! We threw matchy-matchy rules out the window a long time ago. Mixing metallics like gold, silver, and brass in the same—or different—rooms is fun. It might take practice and some trial and error, but the result will be super cool. 

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Photography by GREIGEDESIGN.COM

hide your stuff

Why would you collect the prettiest dishes around just to hide them in cabinets? Displaying beautifully designed objects you use everyday has become an integral part of decorating a home. Whether it’s open shelving in your kitchen or displaying your favorite books on your coffee table, hiding your prized possessions is a rule of the past.

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Photography by FANTASTICFRANK.WORDPRESS.COM

don’t over accessorize

Minimalism is in, but that doesn’t mean you can’t accessorize your home in a big way. Filling your shelves with precious pieces and hanging things like crazy on your walls is no longer a no-no. Whether it’s a busy (but well curated) coffee table or a wall full of books, throw your rule book out the window and go wild!

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decorating with all one color (ahem, white) is bad

You don’t need pops of color to break up a space if you don’t want them. Minimal decor is in, and it’s become increasingly acceptable—even desirable—to have all-white walls throughout your home! If sticking to a light, airy color scheme feels right, go with your gut.

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Photography by RENOVATED BY MEACHAM NOCKLES MCQUALTER, VIA THE DESIGN FILES

don’t follow trends

Filling your space with trendy pieces used to be inadvisable. But the trends these days are so fun—and not even that fleeting—that decorating your home with trendy pieces or colors that might go out of a style in a few years (or even a decade?!) is something you should absolutely feel free to do. Enjoy your decisions while they last, then switch it up when you find something you like better.

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Photography by NORDICDAYS.BLOGSPOT.NL

don’t make big changes to a rental

Installing custom shelving and buying pieces that might only work for a certain space might not be the most cost effective, but if it will bring you happiness in your home, who are we (or the “rule” guys) to stop you? Plus, most times installing whatever “big project” you’re considering is easier than it looks (like these floating shelves!).

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Photography by SACRAMENTOSTREET.COM

favor furniture sets

Like we said above, mix and match is in—especially when it comes to seating. Mixing and matching chairs, wood finishes of sofa legs and coffee tables, fabrics, metallic accents, and more is encouraged. Finding unique pieces will create a unique space that YOU created! 

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Photography by MYSCANDINAVIANHOME.COM

don’t mix design styles

These days, we’re exposed to so much inspiration, trends, and styles of decorating, that it’s okay if more than one resonates with you and shows up in your home. Create a modern dining space, a bohemian-inspired living room, and a minimalist bedroom—or incorporate a bit of all aesthetics into each room throughout your home. You don’t have to be defined by one style, you can take a bit from them all!

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Photography by COCOLAPINEDESIGN.COM

hang and frame your prints

There are so many ways to display your favorite works of art and prints, it would be silly to limit yourself to one type of frame. Whether you tape, lean, or forgo art all together, don’t stick to whatever traditional hanging techniques you have been exposed to. The sky, and your walls, are the limit! 

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Photography by ARCHITECTUREARTDESIGNS.COM

don’t invest in XYZ

Okay, so investing in certain decor items at certain ages can be silly. There’s no reason for a first apartment-er to spend thousands of dollars on a couch if there’s a possibility they could move across the country at any time, in their Prius. But if you feel strongly enough to make the purchase even after writing out a pros and cons list, you’ll most likely get more happiness out of an expensive piece you love over a cheaper option you don’t.

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Photography by YELLOWTRACE.COM.AU

you need a rug

Surprise, surprise… We LOVE rugs. But you don’t have to lay one in every room of your home if you don’t want to. If you really love your floors, don’t feel pressure to hide them.

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Photography by CAMILLE STYLES

stay away from untraditional color pairings

Bringing bold and soft color combos into your home is no longer out of the question. Sticking to one color or even one color family is no longer a rule you should follow. And no, this doesn’t just apply to eclectic spaces—you can pair previously off limits combinations in rooms that favor a classic, modern, or really any aesthetic.

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Photography by THEEVERYGIRL.COM

mind your proportions

Hanging artwork that is a certain size at a certain height feels too regulated. Mixing smaller and larger pieces creates visual interest and makes a space unique—not cookie cutter. This applies to coffee and side tables, couches, artwork… Basically everything! Doing what is right for your space and aesthetic is better than following regimented rules.