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9 Interior-design rules to live by

Victoria Solomon

These expert interior-design rules will help you instantly transform your home so that it looks professionally done.

t While decorating is considered an art form, there’s actually more math involved than you may think. Have you noticed that something seems “off” in your living room or that pieces aren’t tying together as well as you had hoped? In the interior-design world, we have a little black book of math rules that we swear by — and I’m sharing nine simple rules that apply to almost any type of space.

Choosing the right rug size

t Often, people choose a rug that’s of the wrong size for their living room or bedroom. Most often, it’s too small. If you’re choosing a rug for your living room, dining room or bedroom, be sure to choose one that is 18 inches smaller than the size of the room. So if you have a 20 x 30-foot living room, you should look for a rug that is around 18 x 28 feet. This will help the furniture feel grounded in the space. There is an exception to this rule, and it applies if you have a smaller space. In that case, choose a rug that will be centered in between your furniture. For example, fit in a 5 x 7-foot rug with only the coffee table on the rug. Living Room Rug

Photo credit: Victoria Elizabeth Design

Sizing a dining table

t There are four basic dining-table shapes: square, circle, oval and rectangular. When choosing a dining table, look for tables that are more than 36 inches wide. Such tables provide enough room on both sides for guests to eat while allowing space for serving dishes and centerpieces in the middle. And here’s another rule of thumb: Make sure you choose a table that allows for a 48-inch pathway between the edge of the table and the closest wall or furniture. This way, guests can relax comfortably, and there’s an open pathway around the table.

t Dining Room Table

Photo credit: Martha O’Hara

Hanging the chandelier

t Once you’ve chosen a dining room table that scales to the room, hanging a chandelier is a task of its own. You want to make sure that your chandelier scales properly to your dining room and is always directly centered above your table. And how low should it be? Pretty low. You should always make sure the bottom of your chandelier is 60-66 inches above the floor. If you have staggered pendant lights, then the rule applies to the lowest light.

t Dining Room Chandelier

Photo credit: Jenkins Baer Associates

Planning for a sofa

t If you’re looking for the perfect sofa for Sunday lounging or napping, make sure to look for a sofa that is longer than 90 inches so your feet won’t be falling off the end. And if you’re buying a sofa and are unsure about the measurements, recreate the size of the sofa with butcher paper or a folded sheet so you can see how it would fit in your living room. You can actually use this tip for other items like dining room tables, beds — almost anything. Especially when you’re shopping online, doing this will help you avoid buying something that’s too large or too small for the space.

Creating a living room walkway

t Oftentimes, you may be unsure about how to place items in your living room. You should make sure that guests can easily maneuver around your accent chairs or coffee tables. So here’s a tip: Make sure to keep at least 15-18 inches between any upholstered items and your coffee table.

t Beige Sofa

Photo credit: Victoria Elizabeth Design

Hanging artwork

t There’s a very simple rule when it comes to hanging artwork: the 57-inch rule. All artwork or mirrors should be hung so that the middle of the piece is 57 inches from the ground. The exceptions occur when the item is above a lower furniture piece (such as a sofa) or a higher piece (like a headboard).

t artwork

Photo credit: Lee Design & Interiors

Placing artwork above a headboard

t Placing artwork above a headboard can really turn a bedroom from drab to fab. If you have a round headboard, hang square artwork above it to break up the flow. If you have a square headboard, hang round artwork above it. And always hang any artwork or mirrors no more than 12 inches above the headboard so the arrangement looks cohesive.

t Headboard Artwork

Photo credit: Rikki Snyder

Decorating with shelves

t Have you ever thought that your shelf decor didn’t look right or seemed a bit unbalanced? This is where the 30-percent rule will help you out. When filling a shelf with items — whether they be books or accent items — make sure to keep 30 percent of the shelf space empty. This way, your shelf won’t look too cluttered or too empty.

t Shelf Decor

Photo credit: Victoria Elizabeth Design

Designing with odd numbers

t Almost all decorating involves odd numbers — most often, the number 3. Decorating with odd numbers is key. It provides something new and unexpected to the eye and creates a more interesting space. Some examples of this include using three flowers in a vase instead of two or having three staggered candles or pendant lights instead of four.

t Do you have any design rules you swear by?

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