5 Kitchen and Living Room Design Rules You Should Always Follow

published Feb 23, 2018
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(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)

Rules were meant to be broken, right? Sometimes! Other times, however, they should be taken very, very seriously. Having a few guidelines to follow can simplify the process, ensure your room looks good, and give you the freedom to hone your creativity in other areas. With that, here are five design rules you should always follow.

(Image credit: William Strawser)

1. Don’t hang curtains that are too long or too short.

Hanging curtain panels that are comically too short or too long is the equivalent of dressing yourself in ill-fitting clothing. “Measure twice, cut once” applies here — take the time to prep by measuring and marking your rod placement before you break out the scissors and sewing machine. Of course, if you’re buying curtains, it’s more of a “measure twice, buy once” situation, but you get the point.

(Image credit: Samara Vise)

2. Choose a properly scaled rug.

If you haven’t made this mistake, you’ve seen it made many times … and understandably so. Rugs can be expensive, and the bigger they get, the more expensive they are. However, while price is definitely something to consider, we’d venture to say money isn’t always the cause behind this epidemic (too strong?).

Maybe you found the most gorgeous vintage kilim rug that you’re convinced you can “make work,” or your favorite home decor store is having a sale on that rug you’ve been obsessing over … but the only one left is something that’s probably too small. DON’T DO IT (unless you plan on layering it over a properly scaled rug). No rug is better than a seemingly miniature rug that is stunted by all of your human-sized stuff.

A good rule of thumb is to choose a rug that is big enough so that all of your existing furniture can fit on it. Tip: Natural fiber rugs like jute and sisal, as well as most IKEA rugs, provide great affordable large-scale options.

(Image credit: Lindsey Kay Averill)

3. Pick a cohesive color palette.

Unless you’re designing the Madonna Inn’s hodgepodged “What’s Left” Room, making a space feel cohesive is probably your main priority when considering a design scheme. Choosing a color palette and working it in evenly throughout a room is a foolproof way to ensure your space will feel put-together.

(Image credit: Natalie Jeffcott)

4. Hang artwork at eye level.

If you’ve got a blank wall and a stack of art that are begging to meet, resist the urge to pick up your hammer without a little prep work. A good rule of thumb is that most artwork looks best hung where the center of the art is between 57 and 60 inches from the floor (around eye level for most people). From there, gallery walls look best hung in a uniform grid where all the frames are the same size, or with one focal piece surrounded by a variety of sizes.

While eye-level placement is key, space between pieces and how they relate to each other can be tricky, too. For more tips, check out a handy illustrated guide on our sister site, Apartment Therapy.

See the guide: Dos and Don’ts of Hanging Art at Apartment Therapy

(Image credit: Shannon Mcgrath)

5. Vary your light sources.

When all of your lighting comes from one bright source in one location (read: overhead recessed lighting), it falls flat. Placing multiple soft lights in a variety of locations enhances the ambiance and creates depth and warmth.

“Lighting will elevate the mood of any room,” says Mat Sanders of Consort Design. Be sure to have light coming from multiple sources, not just overhead. Find creative places for an extra floor lamp, sconce, or empty corner where a small table lamp could reside for added glow.”

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: 5 Classic Design Rules to Absolutely Never Break