Stop Designing Scared: How to Break the Rules of Home Design

How to Break the Rules of Home Design

Designing your home can be a daunting task. Between balancing personal style with practical considerations and abiding by the so-called "rules" of interior design, it's easy to be scared of making a mistake. But what if you're not sure where to start? What if you're following rules that might be holding you back? In this article, we'll break down some of the most common "rules" of home design and show you how to break them with confidence. Read on for tips on creating a space that represents your vision while breaking the rules of home design.

The Kitchen Triangle Rule: It's Time to Cut Corners

For years, kitchen designers have sworn by the "kitchen triangle" rule, which dictates that the three main elements of any kitchen—the sink, the stove, and the refrigerator—should be arranged in a triangular configuration. The thinking behind this rule is that it creates an efficient workflow by minimizing travel distance between these key areas.

But what if your kitchen doesn't fit this mold? Maybe you have a small space and can't arrange the elements in a traditional triangle, or you prefer a more open layout. Your kitchen may even have better uses than a function-over-form cooking space.

These days, the "heart of the home" isn't just a place for one person to create food. The kitchen can be a space to entertain friends or a place for kids to do their homework. In a world where convenience is a driving factor, some households cook much less because their lifestyle is more suited to an on-the-go, eating-out culture. The kitchen can be as much or more of a social space as a cooking space if you let it shine.

It might be time for you (and your interior home designer) to look into more unique kitchen layouts.

Adding More Cooks to the Kitchen: Working Zones

Adding Multiple Work Zones Means More Than One Cook in the Kitchen

Cooking is a fun activity to do with a partner. However, if the kitchen is designed with only one chef in mind, multiple cooks are bound to get in each other's way. Therefore, it might be time to consider a kitchen layout with multiple work zones.

This layout has dedicated areas for different tasks, such as prepping, cooking, and cleanup, allowing multiple people to move around the kitchen without bumping into each other.

"Working Zone" kitchens are naturally easier to set up in larger kitchens, but they can be made to work in all kinds of layouts. A kitchen island, for example, is a great space to set up a prep zone, especially if a second sink is installed. Tucking the refrigerator into a walk-in pantry can give the kitchen a cleaner look while creating a comprehensive storage zone.

No Need to Hide Away: Turning the Kitchen Into an Entertaining Zone

If you're looking to turn your kitchen into a true entertaining zone, there are all sorts of ways to make it happen.

One way is to install a wine fridge or kegerator to create a built-in bar area where guests can help themselves while you're cooking. If you don't want to spring for a separate appliance, consider using a cabinet or pantry to store wine, beer, and other drinks.

Another factor to consider is what step of the cooking process takes the most time and choosing the appropriate appliance locations. If the foods you make when friends are over tend to require more time on the stove, set up the stovetop on an island or peninsula so that whoever's making the food is facing the living room and can talk to people. If backyard barbecues are more your speed, set up the refrigerator and pantry to be close to the back door and create an outdoor kitchen so that prep work can be done outside where the party is.

Galley Kitchens Are Rarely Triangle-Shaped

Many smaller spaces like condos have galley kitchen designs. This aisle-style setup is rarely conducive to the traditional triangle layout. To make the layout functional, especially if there's more than one cook, plan on stretching the triangle out.

It's wise to create as much space as possible between different appliances and pay attention to which way traffic is likely to move. For example, position the refrigerator near one end so that someone popping by to grab a snack doesn't have to squeeze by someone washing the dishes. Additionally, don't put the sink opposite the stove so people end up standing back-to-back. Visualize the steps of creating a meal to help determine the optimal flow. A great thing about galley kitchens is how easily they can be expanded horizontally, so take advantage.

Dark Colors Make Small Bathrooms Cramped? Not If You Do It Right

Dark Bathrooms Can Actually Feel Cozy

Small bathrooms are often painted in light, airy colors to make them feel larger. However, if you're not careful, light colors can feel clinical and bland. Don't be afraid to go dark if you want to add some personality to your small bathroom. Dark colors can actually make small spaces feel more intimate and cozy, which lends a sense of warmth.

To pull off the look, start with walls in a dark neutral, like charcoal or navy. Then add pops of color with towels, rugs, and other accessories. Make sure to use plenty of light—recessed lighting, sconces, and even skylights will help make your small bathroom feel bright and spacious. Finally, add textural elements like tiles that mimic wood to invoke a sensory experience while enhancing the cozy feeling.

High Contrast, High Reward: Mix Patterns In Your Living Room

Prints and Patterns Add Personality to Living Rooms

Most of us play it safe when it comes to patterns. We might pair a print with a solid, but mixing patterns is often seen as a faux pas in fashion and interior design. However, if you want to make a statement, try mixing multiple patterns in your living room. The key is choosing patterns sharing common colors or themes while including size variation, so the patterns compete less with each other. For example, you could pair a geometric print with a floral that has similar colors. Instead of choosing two loud prints, mix a bold choice with a more subtle one.

Not sure where to start? Try pairing a large-scale print with a smaller one, or mix contrasting geometric patterns like stripes and polka dots. Don't be afraid to add in some solid-colored pieces to help ground the room. With some trial and error, you'll be surprised at how easy it is to mix and match patterns like a pro.

Skip "Basic Bedroom Design Rules"

Make Your Bedroom Your Own

A lot of "common wisdom" bedroom design rules exist, like matching nightstands, the bed in the center of the wall, a rug under the bed, and restful, soothing colors on everything. Sound like every bedroom you've ever seen? It's time to break out of the mold and try something new. 

If you don't want matching nightstands, don't get them. If you want a bright pink headboard, go for it. If you really want to make a statement, try hanging your bed on the wall.

Not sure where to start? Here are some ideas:

  • Go for mismatched nightstands. They add character and are usually available secondhand if you're going for eclectic chic. Need a book nook? A built-in USB charger? Mismatched nightstands also allow the sleeper on each side of the bed to personalize. You can have them without having to find a style that matches two sets of priorities.
  • Try moving the bed to refresh the room without spending any money. The bed is the most prominent feature in most bedrooms, and its position can completely change things up. Place your bed sideways against the wall instead of jutting out into the center of the room to open up the space, or add a sense of dynamism by placing it diagonally against a corner.
  • If the common-wisdom-recommended bedroom colors don't make you feel happy with the space, don't use them. The bedroom should be the space that's the most "you" out of any room in the house.

First Impressions Matter: Make Bold Landscaping Choices

Xeriscaping is a Water-Conserving Landscape that Stnads Out

Green lawns are the classic beauty and golden standard of curb appeal. However, they also guzzle water and can take a lot of effort to maintain, especially in certain climates. There's nothing to be done about that, right? Plants are pretty and require water—except when they don't. Enter xeriscaping, a low-water, eco-friendly design style that not only stands out among rows of green lawns but also helps the environment.

Xeriscaping is a design style that uses drought-tolerant native plants requiring very little water or maintenance. You can have a beautiful, one-of-a-kind yard without spending hours watering and mowing.

If you're thinking about xeriscaping your yard, the first step is to choose the right plants. When selecting plants, pay attention to their water needs, sun exposure, and growth habits. You'll also want to consider the climate in your area and whether you want year-round interest or seasonal color.

Once you select your plants, it's time to start designing. Xeriscaping can be as simple or complex as you want; you can create texture and interest by using various shapes and sizes. You'll also want to consider color for the plants and the flowers they produce. Don't forget about negative space—leaving some areas of your yard empty will help create a sense of calm and balance.

With the rise of sustainable building trends, there's no better time to start xeriscaping than now. You can have the yard of your dreams with a little planning and some creativity—and save water while you're at it.

Be Bold. Be Brave. Be You. Design Your Perfect Home Today!

These are just a few ideas to get you started on breaking the golden rules of home design. Remember, there are no set-in-stone rules regarding the right design, so have fun and be creative! Don't be afraid to break the "rules" when it comes to designing your home. With a little creativity and confidence, you can create a truly unique space that reflects your personal style.

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