I’m not a fan of rules. Give me a rule, and my inner rebel asks why and looks for an exception. While I get that rules have their place in society — kids should stay in school; drivers going the same direction should drive on the same side of the road; everyone should turn off his cell phone in the theater — some rules are needlessly tyrannous.
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The customer isn’t always right, for instance. Prepositions are perfectly fine words to end sentences with. And paying dozens of taxes — sales, state, federal, property, gas, sin and so on — instead of one whopping mega tax is moronically inefficient. Wouldn’t you rather get fleeced once a year than get slowly pecked to death by ducks?
Similarly, while some decorating rules are useful — a few large accessories beat a bunch of small ones for sure — many, and I mean many, are just as unnecessary as hats and gloves on Sunday.
Don’t buy a patterned sofa. Only paint with soft neutrals. Always keep interior trim white. Never put an area rug on carpet. Dining tables and chairs should be matched sets. Blah, blah, blah.
The stream of so-called experts doling decorating do’s and don’ts is as endless as their poor advice, which is often conflicting: Real estate agents say keep your home neutral and impersonal. Designers say give your interiors punch and make your home about you.
No wonder so many DIY home decorators stand stuck and stiff as stalagmites on their threshold. They’re afraid to make a decorating move. If they do conjure the courage, they make design choices so wimpy even their pets yawn.
I didn’t realize how strongly I felt about this until last week when, buried among the high traffic flow of home improvement pitches that hit my inbox, came one refreshing missive from the folks at Lou Hammond & Associates, a leading maker of window-coverings. A welcome departure from the heavy-handed rule list, this pitch featured design rules best ignored.
I read in full, liberated agreement.
Here are some rules the Lou Hammond folks say you can avoid, along with a few more I say to outright break:
But do, please, stay on the right side of the road. And kids, stay in school.
Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). Contact her through marnijameson.com.