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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Home Design Rules And Why You Can Break Them

A recent post on my living room update and my latest Houzz Ideabook and the uproar it caused in the design world (I wish!) over the length of my curtains got me thinking....Why do we think we HAVE to abide by someone else's rules for our home to be considered beautiful or well-designed?  And, why are we bullied into doing things because someone else says it looks good or, on the flip side, that it doesn't? Don't get me wrong, this is not a rant against negative feedback but just a nudge to all of us to open up our minds just a little.

I'm always one for considering basic rules of design, but I am definitely not one to shy away from making adjustments to the rules to make them work for our family.  Take the Rules for Hanging Curtains, for example: 

Basic Rule #1:  Hang your curtains high (About 4-8 inches from the top of the window frame) and wider than the frame (as much as 12 inches on either side.)

This is one rule that I tend to follow.  Our curtains hang 9 inches wider than the window frame and 7 inches taller.

Basic Rule #2:  Floor length curtains need to just touch the floor or hover half an inch above.  If they don't it looks like you measured incorrectly.

I know the rule about the floor length curtains and I love both floor-length and pooled curtains, but guess what?  I broke the rule. Why?  Well, we have a cat.  A mischievous little cat that loves to mess with curtains that touch the floor.  Why only curtains that touch the floor?  No idea, but I'd much rather have (still) beautiful high-water curtains than some torn up threads and a bunch of money down the drain.  Plus, floor length curtains tend to get dirty and dusty especially with pets in a home.

But, wait - you say I could have made short drapes, which are returning in popularity, that end right at the bottom of the window?  Yes, I could have but like those who shared their preferences for floor-length drapes, I, too, have preferences and I prefer the look of longer drapes.  So I made an executive decision and combined the two for a stylish yet practical look.  My two long(ish) curtain panels stop right at our thick baseboard - leaving 4 1/2" inches of space to the floor.  Perfect to keep them safe from getting torn to shreds and, of course, any impending flood.  This is definitely not a style for everyone (check out the long vs. short debate at Curbly), but it's a style that works for our home...and apparently this adorable nursery by Cape27

Are these shortish-long high-water drapes going to be the new trend?  Definitely not.

Will I continue to get flack for making the "mistake" of choosing this length?  Sure and that's perfectly fine.  To each their own, right?

BUT, will my break from tradition show other homeowners that they CAN and SHOULD bend or break the rules to make design aspects work for their home and family?  You betcha.

So rather than thinking of home design rules as hard-and-fast, think of them more as advice that can be tailored to your specific home, family and way of life.  Because, after all, it is your house and you are the only one that can decide what the rules are and how they should be followed.

So what type of rule follower are you?  Hard and true, rule breaker or somewhere in the middle?



  1. LOL, I see this post was inspired by the comments from your Houzz post. Maybe some of those posters had good intentions.

    Heck yes, rules like these were meant to be broken. There's some decor rules I stick to and some I break. It's all relative anyway, and you're the only one who needs to be okay with it since it's your home. So good for you!

    1. :) Definitely good intentions! But they still got me thinking. This really wasn't about negative or constructive comments, but rather the idea that it is your home and do with it what you want, just like you said. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  2. I know that this is an older entry; but I just happened upon it and wanted to say thank you.
    I just installed "highwater" curtains in my master suite and have been agonizing over them. The reason that I chose to hang them this way is because I live in an area that is home to numerous species of dangerous insects, arachnids, and creepy-crawlies which regularly make their way into our house. They turn any fabric which dares to touch the floor into their own personal ladders. So to keep them from scaling our walls or climbing into bed with us at night, we make sure to keep curtains, blankets, and other fabrics off of the floor.

    Even though my reason for breaking this design rule was sound and right for our family, I must admit that it plagued me a bit. Your blog entry greatly inspired me and reminded me that it's my home; and that if the rules don't suit my family's style, preferences, or needs, it is prefectly acceptable to break them.
    Thank you. :)


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