7 Home decorating rules to break for stunning design

Oct 3, 2015 at 12:00 p.m. ET
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When it comes to decorating your own home, you can feel constrained by the common "rules" you always hear about design. But in fact, there are at least seven ways to jazz up your space by doing exactly what you've been told you shouldn't.

Rule No. 1 to break: Every living room needs a sofa

False. Sofas can seriously limit your options. Instead, consider floating chairs away from walls and into conversation areas. The space will feel more welcoming.

Rule No. 2 to break: Keep small spaces white

Au contraire! Many times, a dark hue can make a tight space feel larger. Ultimately, the only rule about picking a paint color for a room is this: Always use a color you love.

More: 5 Ways to redecorate for free

Rule No. 3 to break: Keep ceilings white, too

Forget that. "The ceiling is the sixth surface of a room," says designer Arthur Rooks. Incorporate it into the room's design with colorful paint or wallpaper.

Rule No. 4 to break: Every room needs an accent color

Pops of color can work wonders in a room, but they're not always necessary. Trending now are white kitchens: cabinets, countertops, walls and appliances — all white. If you're not courageous enough for that, consider an all-white powder room instead. So fresh!

More: 13 Easy room facelifts you can do on your lunch break

Rule No. 5 to break: Pet spaces should be kept out of sight

Animal lovers everywhere are making their homes more pet-friendly. From catios (patios for cats) to doggie retreats (shown here), wide-open pet spaces are on the rise.

Rule No. 6 to break: All four furniture legs should be on or off the area rug

Let your furniture move around with your guests, as needed. It's less important where the legs fall and more important that a seating arrangement makes for easy conversation.

Rule No. 7 to break: Don't mix patterns

With so many marvelous patterns and designs to choose from, how can anyone select just one to be the star of the room? Mix florals with stripes. Large polka dots with small ones. Pair different colors of houndstooth or different shades of quatrefoil. Do what makes you feel good.

More: How to use furniture to declutter

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