Hey Right-Bank-Left-Coast-Deep-South readers! It’s an honor to guest-host for the fabulous Ally. I’m Susie from eye spy… and I’m a rebel. Give me a rule and my mind races to figure out how to bend it, break it, or detour around it. So I’m usually amused and scoff when I hear hard and fast rules for design. We all know that some of the best design has broken every single rule.


I really began thinking about this topic a year ago when Lindsey and Kristen Buckingham’s Beverly-Hills-goes-boho home was featured in Elle Decor. Then it hit the blogosphere. We blog authors and commenters either loved it or hated it. Loudly. Among the haters, the comments seemed to be of the rule-breaking variety.


“Two coffee tables? Outrageous! You can’t do that!”

Who says? Really. Why not? To be perfectly honest, I like the Buckingham house but it is not one of my very favorites. But those two coffee tables of dramatically different styles? Yeah. I get it. I like it. And those two tables look just right in that salon-style living room with its mash-up of patterns and colors and textures.

The queen rule breaker these days is Kelly Wearstler. She abandons common views on decorating so often that, at first, her interiors can take some getting used to. Shiny golden brass! Overscale accessories everywhere! 1980s pastels! Nothing is sacred. And it all works exquisitely.

wearstler-2 wearstler

What are some other rules that have been beautifully broken?

A room should have an underlying theme.


Uh oh. Like you, I cannot stand jungle- or sports- or almost anything-themed rooms. But other than “spectacular,” it’s hard to pinpoint the theme at work in Nanette Lepore’s apartment. { Designed by Jonathan Adler, Elle Decor }

Secret away utilitarian objects that are displeasing to the eye.

utilitarian utilitarian-2

Or, hey, consider them to be pleasing and make them star of the room. And if you haven’t yet found the perfect beside table, make something. { Sorry guys, I’ve misplaced the sources on these. }

A chandelier should be half the diameter of the table and positioned 18 to 24″ above it.


Or not. When it comes to dining lighting, appropriate scale depends on the room, the furnishings and the eye of the beholder. { From top, Metropolitan Home, Atlanta Homes & Lifestyle, and Apartment Therapy. }

Red and green should never be seen!


Even at Christmas, I find a red and green palette to be annoying. But not in these rooms. Here, the red and green colorway is perfectly striking. { Top, photographer Richard Power; bottom, guest bedroom of designer Sally Wheat via Côte de Texas blog }

Keep art and accessories proportioned to the size of the room.


Scattered throughout designer Julia Buckingham Edelman’s Queen Anne home, are outsized found objects and enormous art pieces. It’s interesting and handsome and it works. { Photos from Buckingham Interiors + Design }

This doesn’t go with that.

mash-up-1 mash-up-2

Or does it? A healthy mix of styles and periods is my favorite kind of interior. Do you like it too? { Top, designer Suzy Hoodless; center, photographer Paul Raeside; bottom, photographer Mali Azima }

There are dozens and dozens more rules worth breaking.

Which are your favorites eye rollers? And which do you adhere to?

Everyone carries his own inch-rule of taste and amuses himself by applying it, triumphantly, wherever he travels.





Gah! That was brilliant! I love it when you're subversive, Susie! It makes for some delicious eye candy. It seems I should stay in stride and disagree with all of your rule breakers., but of course I can't. I have to agree with it all. I fell in love with the Buckingham house precisely because they didn't "color within the lines," so to speak. I happen to adore a room with the unexpected. Something quirky and a bit unusual always rocks my boat. Rules? Pshaw!

Bravo, that was fantastic!
.-= nkp´s last post ..Parisian Spaces {an insider's view} =-.


I do love your rebellious ways Susie! I'm also pleased that now that I know these rules, like you i can choose to ignore them. I can never understand interiors that have been so carefully put together, adhering to all the rules, that they then have no soul and no personality. Great post! Thanks. Amanda
.-= Amanda´s last post ..pegs on the runway =-.

Mel Sapp

Holy Gumby! You are a real bendy girl, Susie. You truly like the 2 coffee tables? My shins hurt just looking at them. But I'm crazy about the chandelier and oversized art rule breakers. The design law I most dislike? The kitchen "work triangle"…so limiting!

Great post, Ms. Eye Spy.
.-= Mel Sapp´s last post ..Her Majesty the Pre-K Queen =-.

my favorite and my b

good one susie..

i think rules in general are made for breaking.

esp in design and fashion. otherwise we all look the same. like every time i see imperial trellis i want to take a magic marker and write "fuck imperial trellis" inside all the imperial trellises. now THAT would be cool!!

but also i think you have to know how to break the rules otherwise it looks bad.

Elisa @ Globetrottin

I don't have any rules when it comes to decor – it's just a matter of whether I like it or not. I think it's all a matter of taste. Who's to say how you should decorate your own space?

Loved this post! Great examples :-)


Rules schmules is all I can say.

I totally agree with you on this topic. Who cares what is the norm and it is all so subjective anyway. Who ever came up with the rules obviously needed a security blanket – a socially accepted measuring stick to ensure they could not be criticized.

I think design should be personal, unexpected, confident and true to the self.

Vive la difference!

Great post

x Charlotta
.-= Charlotta´s last post ..Fish on my mind.. =-.


Here's an unwritten rule the design mags seem to have that I think is worth breaking: You can't have a stylish house unless you have at least one of the following items: (1) sunburst mirror (2) Ghost chair by Phillipe Starck (3) Spitzmiller lamp (4) Saarinen table. When you read the major design magazines lately, those items are so ubiquitous it makes them much less interesting.

p.s. Loved the comment about Imperial Trellis, even though I have to admit I have a soft spot for it…


Thanks so much for taking time to comment! I read every one and reply through my own comments.