7 Color Rules You Can Totally Ignore

Gray Kitchen Color Scheme
Decorating Rules You Can Ignore. ©Astronaut Images/Caiaimage/Getty Images

The Decorating Rules That are Made to be Broken

When you're decorating your home, rules can be helpful when you're deciding things like how high to hang the chandelier, or whether you should sample your paint first, (here's why you should definitely sample paint color before painting.) The best decorating rules are essential to getting the basics done in your home, but many rules were created for aesthetic reasons and aren't set in stone.

 

The most beautiful and inviting interiors are designed when a decorator or homeowner takes creative risks, and breaks a few decorating rules along the way. It's important to learn the rules before you break them so that you can make informed choices for your new space.

Rule #1 Everything Must Match

Everything really doesn't have to match. If you've been following interior design trends, this is less important than it has ever been. Interior designers use the term "matchy-matchy" to describe a space that is perfectly and painfully matched. The goal in creating a beautiful space is to make it look slightly unintentional. Your interior colors do not have to match, but they should look good together. You can pair unlikely colors together when you create a color scheme, as long as the result fits your own style. 

Rule #2 Never Mix Metals

It's okay to mix metal and metallic finishes. You have probably been in a few homes that have the same metal surface for every light fixture, faucet, and doorknob.

This look was popular when homes were being built rapidly all at once. Using the same fixtures and metals for each home made it easier and more economical for builders. But the one-metal look can be very boring, and luckily has become outdated. 

While you don't want to have a collection of several different metal finishes in your home, it's really okay to combine a few of them.

A little secret to successfully decorating with metals and metallics is to match the sheen of your fixtures. If you choose a shiny chrome finish for some fixtures, then you'll want to pair it with another shiny metal finish like brass. Another tip is to pair brushed nickel with shiny chrome, or brass with brushed brass, because the metals have similar colors. 

Rule #3 Don't Use Dark Colors in Small Rooms

Yes, you can totally use dark colors in small spaces. Thankfully, this rule is quite outdated. There was a time not so long ago when the goal of decorating included making rooms look larger. Making a room look larger would often override other design considerations. As decorating tastes changed, and as people began downsizing, decorating to enlarge a room became less popular. One of the top tricks for making a small room look larger is painting the walls with light neutral colors. This is a totally great way to do that, but you have to ask yourself if making a room larger is really the right goal. 

If your goal is to decorate your room beautifully, no matter the size, then you can totally bend the "no dark colors in small rooms" rule, if you do it right. You'll need to sample your dark colors to be sure they work in your small room.

It often takes a few coats of paint and an investment of time to complete, so you'll definitely want to ensure it's the right color before committing it to your walls. Don't forget to use the right lighting in your newly painted room. Success or failure of a dark paint color is usually just a matter of the putting together the perfect mix of lighting

Rule #4 Trim Should Always be White

Trim color choice is totally up to you. White trim and molding hasn't always been the standard choice. Trim color goes with the trends just like wall and decor. White trim and molding looks crisp and complements most wall paint colors, and works in every decorating style.

There is a new trend emerging of reimagining the white trim in dark neutral colors. If you want to try this edgy look, consider pairing trim and molding in a neutral color paired with a light neutral wall color.

This is a pretty adventurous look that should be tried out virtually with one of the awesome paint color apps available now. Most paint color apps allow you to upload your room photo and "paint" your wall and trim colors to try out the look before committing to it. 

Rule #5 Neutrals go With Everything

Neutrals don't actually go with everything. This rule has been confusing people for many years. The paint store ads and TV decorating shows make choosing neutral colors look so easy, but it can be pretty challenging. Neutral colors are created by combining colors to the point of neutralizing each other. When you think of neutral colors that way, you can see that just a little extra green or blue or red is going to give that color an undertone. The undertone can be obvious or it can pop out when you least expect it next to another color in the room, but this is why neutrals don't automatically work with other colors. Your beige with a green undertone is not going to look great next to a red or orange chair. 

If you're looking for a neutral color with the best chance of matching the decor you already have, try a warm beige or greige. Greige is a wonderful warm gray color with lots brown and goes with almost anything, and it tops the list of favorite neutral colors because of its versatility.

Rule #6 Ceilings Should Always be White

A ceiling color can be your new accent wall. Your ceiling could be the perfect spot for a gorgeous splash of color. Home builders always spray the ceilings with a nice "decorator white" color and it will stay that way as a default. Most of us don't give a lot of thought to our ceilings or ceiling color, but this is changing. The top color trends have been showing custom ceiling colors to create a unique space. 

Painting your ceiling in anything by white is a big commitment. Testing your ceiling color is essential. The most practical way to test a paint color for your ceiling is by using paintable sample films that can be moved and repositioned. Using a paint color app to try out ceiling color is another great option if you're considering a new color.

A colorful ceiling looks best with a neutral wall color, like Benjamin Moore's Revere Pewter. This is a versatile greige that can easily handle an accent wall or ceiling. 

Rule #7 Only Use Bright Colors as Accents

Neutral colors as accents? Sure! You're probably familiar with the decorating tip of adding a "pop of color." This is adding a small accent color to your rooms. If you're adding more than just a pop of color then it would be called an accent color. The old rule is that your main color should be neutral and your accent and color pops should be bright or saturated colors. This has been a great formula for many years, but it's a rule that can be broken. 

The decorating trick of using accent colors is still very valid. By using the 60-30-10 Rule, your home's color palette will be balanced and relaxed. You can bend this rule by choosing neutral colors as your accents. A pretty aqua or green room can be accented with neutral colors like beige or gray. Add throw pillows, art work, and furniture, in neutral colors to let your gorgeous wall color shine in the space.