“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”  

Pablo Picasso 

When, as newcomers to the great adventure of interior decoration, we set out to create our own home environment, we may be intimidated by the daunting variety of products on the market and the equally vast--and so often contradictory--plethora of advice in magazines  and on the internet. It is our wish in this short article to demystify seven old-school “rules” which you should feel free to break.  

1. Play it safe in small spaces. 


Contrary to what we might assume, tiny rooms often have the most potential for dramatic decorating. In a small space, first of all, you don’t need to purchase as many items of furniture and accent items to make the room feel comfortable. Therefore, you can concentrate energy--and funds!--on buying a few really good pieces that will stand out. Furnishing a small room gives  you the opportunity to explore the upper reaches of the market, for inspiration if not actual purchase. Remember, if you buy, for example, a really good vintage designer chair, you can always resell it, likely at an even higher price. We recommend exploring eBay for bargains that may pay dividends later on. As premier interior designer Miles Redd says: “Buy the best, and you only cry once." 

Another major assumption about furnishing a small room is that you shouldn’t use a large patterned wallpaper on the walls, or a vibrantly patterned fabric for the drapes. In fact, a small room presents a great opportunity to be dramatic, to experiment, because the resulting statement will not be on a grand--i.e. expensive-- scale you might regret.  

A small room is also a great place to experiment with unusual paint colors, silver, black, dark green, or dark red, for example.  

2. The most important piece of furniture is the sofa. 

In a small living room, it might be just as charming and comfortable to have between two and four armchairs. Or, if you are in a studio, consider making your bed a splendiferous major feature.

3. Always put a coffee table in front of the sofa. 

Boring! A much more interesting and decorative option is to have a beautifully upholstered ottoman on which to pile your books, magazines, and trays--stable  and elegant ones!-- for drinks.  

4. Vintage pieces are best left "as is". 

Designers throughout the ages have painted “antique” wooden furniture to give it a different look. Believe it or not, as early as the late 19th century, artists, architects and interior designers committed what one might think of as the decorating sin of painting antique Regency furniture white. Prominent among such artists was the American painter James McNeill Whistler, whose belief in visual harmony extended from his own paintings to the rooms in which they were exhibited and/or lived with.  

5. Don't use two shades of blue in one room. 

At Indigo2ash, we have curated a myriad of blues as our favorite color, and so we believe in mixing them, even within a single decorative scheme. It’s true that mixing blues requires careful calibration of the effect. The element that most strongly differentiates one blue from another is usually the proportion of green and/or gray one finds in it. 

An interiors authority as influential as Martha Stewart advocates using more than one shade of blue: “Why limit yourself to one shade...when you can unleash your creativity and enjoy eight at once?” She also has this hint: “By picking blues that are more neutral than primary,  you can get away with a patterns and an eclectic grouping of furnishings and accessories in one living room...blues [with] undertones of gray or beige...allow the patterns to happily mingle.” 

Another important trick with blue is to complement it liberally with crisp white paint and/or pristine white fabrics. You might consider displaying blue and white china plates on a rail--a favorite of decorators through the ages.  

A final myth regarding blue which needs shattering is that blue rooms are “cold”. Cool, yes, but also, the more greenish a blue--turquoise or teal, for example-- the more enveloping and welcoming blue as a room color can become. 

6. A dark room must be painted a light color. 

In many cases, just the opposite is true. The more you have to rely on artificial light in a dark room, the more washed out or even dingy--or greenish or lavender-tinged--a pale color will appear. Here is what decorator Mario Buatta, the “prince of chintz”, advises: “But never paint a dark room a light color. It doesn't work. If a room doesn't get a lot of light, don't do apricot—do dark orange.” 

 Another, even more daring dark color scheme Buatta mentions is eggplant walls! 

 7. Ceilings should be painted white. 

Again, Mario Buatta (the master!) has some surprising and counter-intuitive advice: “The ceiling is the forgotten surface. Paint it a color, or cover it with wallpaper in a small pattern. A pale-blue ceiling brings in the sky; a yellow ceiling adds sunshine.”

Take a leaf from Picasso's book: learn these rules, then, using your own intuition and gradually acquired good taste, go ahead and break them!

Artfully mixed and matched, Indigo2ash’s wide selection of rugs, drapes and pillows are available in thirty subtle shades and myriad textures and patterns. At Indigo2ash, home is not only a place, but an experience, the setting most central to our families, friendships and visual adventures. Sign up to receive our newsletter with special offers!