7 Decorating Rules to Break

Convinced a small room should be painted white? Think you need to stick with one style of furniture? Read on to find out which decorating rules need debunking.

Old Rule: Use only one type of wood in a room.

New Rule: All matching wood can look too perfect. Mixing woods can make a room more interesting and personal, like it took shape over time, as in this library by Miles Redd.

See more: 20 Decorating Secrets

Old Rule: The most important piece of furniture is the sofa.

New Rule: There's no rule that says a living room even has to have a sofa: Four armchairs do the trick in this living room by designer Dan Marty. You can always put the sofa in the family room or a cozy library.

Related: 101 Party Do's & Don'ts

Old Rule: Play it safe in small spaces.

New Rule: Tiny rooms are great for dramatic decorating. "Put a large-scale printed fabric or wallpaper on the walls and even the ceiling. It's easier, safer, and less expensive to be dramatic in a small space. You might get tired of a bold print in the main living area, but it can make a smaller, less-used room an exciting space to spend time," says designer Victoria Neale.

Old Rule: Children's art is for the fridge or a box in the top of a closet.

New Rule: Kids' paintings and drawings can bring color and whimsy to an otherwise unimaginative space. "Display drawings in a colorful frame, or in a white frame with a colored mat. Hang them in an otherwise unimaginative space. They're full of spirit - and meaningful," says designer Eric Cohler.

See more: Expert Kitchen Tips and Ideas

Old Rule: Furniture styles should match.

New Rule: "If you layer a space with color, texture, and array of styles, your decor choices will have a much longer life," says designer Vicente Wolf. Accessories are an affordable way to make sure a space doesn't get locked into one period or thematic look.

Old Rule: For a small bedroom, use small furniture.

New Rule: Small-scale furniture only makes a small bedroom look smaller. Try a high bed and a tall headboard, like designer Melissa Warner used in her West Hollywood bedroom. Your room will grow.

See more: Quick and Easy Makeover Ideas

Related: Colorful Kitchens

Old Rule: Dining chairs should be part of a matching set.

New Rule: Mix up the seating at your dining table, like Vicente Wolf did at this Southampton home. You wouldn't have eight identical chairs in your living area.

What rules do you break and what rules do you follow?

More from House Beautiful: