The saying goes that you must first know the rules before you can break them. And though we love the irreverence of tossing the design rule book out the window, there are some guidelines that make the task of decorating a space a little easier and more foolproof. Few know this better than America's leading interior designers, who are well-versed in using decorating tricks to transform an empty space into an inspiring and unique home.
We spoke to 10 top interior designers to find out which rules are worth following for a statement interior. Whether you're starting a renovation from scratch or are looking to make a couple of small but high-impact changes to your existing home, these expert-approved tips will guide you to get it right every time. Commit these 10 rules to memory for a flawless home inspired by advice from the best in the business.
If you can't understand why your space feels lacking, Charleston, South Carolina–based interior designer Angie Hranowsky recommends adding different textures, via accents like rugs, throws, or accent cushions. "Always mix materials and add texture—metal mixed with wood, or rattan or natural woven fabrics with lacquered furniture or walls, for example," she says.
Rooms with one type of lighting, such as a single overhead pendant, can feel two-dimensional. "Lighting will elevate the mood of any room," says Consort Design's Mat Sanders. "Be sure to have light coming from multiple sources, not just overhead. Find creative places for an extra floor lamp, sconce, or empty corner where a small table lamp could reside for added glow."
Adverse to taking risks? Start small, with accessories like a quirky bowl or statement vase, says interior designer Grant K. Gibson. "Don't be afraid to take some chances to make bold statements, updating classic, timeless elements to make them current and your own," he tells MyDomaine.
Before you add that dreamy daybed to your cart, be sure to measure your space. "Measure twice, buy once" is the mantra Jennifer Jones of Niche Interiors adheres to. "Scale can make or break your space. Pay close attention to the size of furniture pieces in relation to the room. Always map out the larger items, such as sofas and rugs, before purchasing."
Looking for a surefire way to give a room instant wow factor? "When in doubt, make a dark room darker," says San Francisco interior designer Scot Meacham Wood. "One should always enhance a space's natural atmosphere."
Now that you've mastered the basics, design powerhouse Nate Berkus wants you to take risks and follow your gut to create a truly unique home. "For me, the best interiors are always the ones where people have not followed any rules. Reach for what you love, not what your best friend or the latest design trend is telling you," he tells MyDomaine. "That being said, there are rules about scale that will always apply. Once you get that right, though, you can then go ahead and break as many rules as you want." Copy that.