6 decorating commandments that were made to be broken

Decorating rules are made to be broken

Rules are made to be broken, non? From mixing blue and green to playing against proportion, if you challenge the traditional diktats about colour, pattern, texture and you'll have a unique scheme that's individual, confident and anything but run of the mill. Here's how to break the key decorating commandments in style..

room with printed blue with green walls

(Image credit: TBC)

1. Blue and Green must not be seen
Phooey. They're apparently sworn enemies but have you tried them together? They can look stunning. They sit together perfectly well together in nature (think of a bright blue sky soaring above emerald green hills). The trick in your home is to break up blocks of colour with a panel of pattern incorporating both. This not only creates a focal point, but it unites the two shades beautifully.
Tiles from the Ronda collection by Fired Earth.

living room with floral printed wallpaper

(Image credit: Bennison Fabrics.)

2. Always work with your room's proportions
Zoning your room doesn't have to be planned around the natural architectural lines of your room - the fireplace, cornicing, window frame and skirting. While a symmetrical room is classically easy on the eye, playing with your planes can also be surprisingly pleasing. Draw a line off centre, or wherever you fancy, and then position your key elements to work off that marker. Here, a bold wallpapepr defines a lounging area while the block of grey demarcates a work zone. The two areas are further identified by the change in direction of the carpet.
Great Toile Pink on Oyster wallpaper by Bennison Fabrics.

kids room with black and grey wall

(Image credit: TBC)

3. Never use black in a child's bedroom
Who says kids only like pastels? Pattern's where it's at for young eyes, and black and greys create a bold scheme as well as giving little ones a head start in the style stakes. Keep the room light by choosing white flooring and woodwork, and add small touches of a bold colour for vibrancy.

room with floral printed wallpaper and white staircase

(Image credit: TBC)

4. Never clash bright colours
Confidence is key here. Go for a mad mix of florals and stripes in bold colours and you might just pull it off. Avoid primary colours which can take things too playschool, opting instead for more sophisticated tropical brights. If you've got it, flaunt it.

bathroom with pink walls and white washbasin

(Image credit: TBC)

5. Bathrooms are best kept white
Says who? Okay, white spells clean, crisp and hygienic but it can be so predictable. Bathrooms are often the most featureless rooms in the house, so they provide the perfect canvas for going a bit wild with colour and pattern. And they're the place where you often spend a bit of time, so why not indulge in your favourite colour?

bedroom with white walls and yellow bed

(Image credit: Ikea)

6. Don't mix spots and stripes
Again, this is a myth. Clashing pattern, colour and scale is a recipe for a big holy mess. But if you always repeat one element on everything – be it a colour (black is a great anchor) or scale, then you can, quite literally, go to town with everything else and the common ground will help them hang together nicely.
Spotted duvet cover, Ikea. Chevon throw Occa-Home. Pumpkin flat sheet, Merci. Chevron rug, Tesco.

bedroom with white walls and printed red and white bedsheet

(Image credit: TBC)

7 Never use red near a bed
Red gets a bad rep on the bedroom front, conjuring up images of tarts' boudoirs or murder scenes. Used discretely, however, it's energising and mood lifting. Avoid using all over, as that can be too oppressive. For a fresh take, used as an accent against white and suddenly the old girl looks modern!
Patchwork headboard upholstered in Woodbury cotton in Red and White, by Jane Churchill. Blanket in Red Tulip by Larsen edged in Grosgrain rayon ribbon by VVRouleaux.

If you want to find your perfect colour (clashing, optional) visit Valspar.co.uk to create your perfect shade.


Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.