Thursday, October 05, 2006

Some traditional decorating rules – Use or ignore as you desire

There’s an old saying in the creative arts: “You have to know what the rules are before you can break them.” The idea is that if you understand the basic principles, you will be able to put your own creative spin on them – even to the point of skillfully breaking a cherished maxim now and again. On the other hand, if you don’t know the principles, you’ll break them accidentally, and the results may not be pleasing.

Below is a list of long-held decorating conventions concerning the use of art in the home. Following these rules creates lovely, traditional interiors that whisper, “People who appreciate beauty live here.” On the other hand, I’ve been in many a home where rule number one was broken, and the effect was delightful!

So, I hope you will enjoy reading about the rules. But, please don’t feel bound by them if your inner drum wants to beat out a different rhythm:

1) Don’t hang family photos in the living room or other public spaces. If you do want to display likenesses of family members in the living room, use painted portraits. You may display photographs of loved ones in more intimate spaces – such as bedrooms or a casual den.
2) Do not use fruit or vegetable still life compositions in your bedrooms and be cautious about using them in a living room. These are best saved for dining rooms and kitchens.

3) Don’t hang small landscapes near large still life paintings or prints. The imbalance in the proportions will take away from both. (This rule is based on a principle of art and it is not simply a tradition. So, we’d all do well to pay attention to this one.)

4) Don’t use barnyard scenes in a formal, traditional, or modern living room. They are fine for casual country interiors or for use in a casual den.

5) This rule seems so obvious, I’m surprised to find it mentioned in a decorating book: Don’t use bloody battle scenes in a dining room.

6) Don’t hang religious art in a bathroom.

7) Floral subjects are appreciated in almost every room. They are especially nice in rooms with a feminine feel to them.

8) Landscapes and boats also work just about anywhere. They are particularly nice in a room with a masculine feel.

9) Other masculine subjects are sports, historic war heroes, and hunting scenes. If you need to decorate a man’s office or den, you can’t go wrong choosing one of these themes.

10) Whimsical art is great for children’s rooms.

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