Interiors Tastemakers On The Design Rules They Never Follow

Whether it’s a supposedly ‘forbidden’ color palette, an overly obeyed decorating mantra or an aesthetic that is devoutly deemed to be inappropriate, sometimes there are simply too many assumed conventions when it comes to the world of interior design. Which is why we’ve asked five tastemakers to share the design ‘rules’ they deliberately choose to ignore… By KATIE BERRINGTON

Designer Mimi Shodeinde believes in “the beauty of sculpture”, such as a striking floral display or eye-catching lighting, and tends to ignore perceived design rules when it comes to making a space more interesting – with an unconventional sunken bed, for example

Perfect symmetry

“Interiors don’t have to be symmetrical. We love nothing more than a wall with lots of art, in different sizes, spaced out eclectically. Of course, there is thought that goes into the disorder, but not being constrained by items having to be the same size means you can be more playful with the things you buy, allowing the pieces on the wall to grow organically. Symmetry is a rule that’s constantly pushed in interior design, but going against this can create special moments in your home.

“Having your whole house asymmetrical could drive you mad, but there are chances to break the rule. The best opportunity is when the space you’re working with does not allow for perfect symmetry. In our living room, for example, we have a large wall with a radiator at the ‘center’ (though not quite in the middle of the wall). We struggled to find any pieces that harmoniously worked to flank the radiator, so, in the end, we put a beautiful antique glass-fronted cabinet on one side, and then hung a large antique Suzani textile on the wall to fill the rest of the space. By doing so, we created a room that felt more natural and authentic to our style.”

Olympia and Ariadne Irving, co-founders of Carolina Irving & Daughters

Function over form

“I forget about prioritizing function over form. I am a big believer in the beauty of sculpture, and I like to bring that into every piece of furniture and every space I design. Not everything in your home has to be functional, so embrace the special sculptural pieces that will bring you joy too.

“I’m fearlessly independent, so I find myself shying away from any rules or prescribed design tropes. I don’t obsess over the rules of symmetry, for instance – I always find asymmetry actually makes a space more visually interesting, organic and fluid.”

Mimi Shodeinde, founder of Miminat Designs

Moody hues

“I don’t always subscribe to the rule that a bathroom can’t be dark. I love deeply moody spaces and, when designed well, a dark bathroom won’t lose its utility. But proper lighting is key to making it work.”

Young Huh, designer

Contrary to popular belief, there is absolutely nothing ‘wrong’ with a dark and moody bathroom, says designer Young Huh
Brand consultant, content creator and stylist Lucy Williams advocates the use of wood in a bathroom – rather than just tiles – and framed artwork to add character, too

Practical bathrooms

“I think a lot of people often see bathrooms as entirely practical spaces and presume you can’t have the likes of wood flooring or artwork in there, too. Personally, I hate white and gray-tiled bathrooms, and always try to find ways to warm them up and add some character.

“I love a timber floor in a bathroom (it’s less slippery and there’s no grout to keep clean), and unless you're doing lengths in the bath, water damage shouldn’t be an issue, as long as everything is sealed and fitted properly. Even just a wooden chair or stool in a bathroom can make a huge difference.

“And while I might not hang a Picasso in the bathroom (if you happen to have one of those lying around), if the room is well ventilated, a glazed or framed piece of artwork can make the room feel so much more homely. I love ceramic plates, wall hangings and trinkets picked up on holidays hung on the walls, too – anything to make it feel softer and less sterile.”

Lucy Williams, brand consultant, content creator and stylist