Interior Design: Are There Rules? {Guest Blogger & Giveaway}

Hi everyone! Today I wanted to take a break from tutorials/party stuff to feature a post by my very dear friend and BlogHer 11 roomie, Carolyn. Her blog is amazing– it chronicles her life as a mom to her 3 beautiful girls. Always an entertaining blog to read, and I think you should definitely check it out. Lucky for us, Carolyn is an interior designer and she has some tips for all of us today. I’ll be back on Monday with a pretty, simple flower project to dress up those boring throw pillows we all have lying around. But tomorrow, my Coffee Mate Natural Bliss giveaway ends, so as soon as you’re done here go enter!

But today is all about Carolyn’s lovely, heartfult post telling us all to let go of our design issues and do what we want. So what I want to do is giveaway some of my BlogHer 11 swag to one lucky person who comments on THIS blog post. So, read the post below, leave me your thoughts and you’re entered to win! I’ll keep it open from now until Wednesday, September 21 at 10 pm CST.


Carolyn and I at BlogHer 11. This was at the Sparklecorn party. Good times!

When I was a little girl my father built me a dollhouse. This wasn’t just any dollhouse, but a huge mansion of a dollhouse. I proceeded to fill it with all kinds of nifty furnishings and became quite the miniature expert at the time. My kitchen had forks and knives and food in the refrigerator. My bedrooms had sheets and curtains and vanity accessories. I never got tired of re-arranging the rooms. There was always some way to make it better… more practical, more comfortable, more liveable.

I don’t think anyone was surprised when I became an Interior Designer. It was a natural progression. It was the only thing I ever wanted to do. Still today, when I tell people what I do they ask me if I actually went to school for design. Well, yes, as a matter of fact I have a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design from a well respected and accredited school. For some reason, people seem surprised by this. I think it’s because there are so many decorators out there who just pick up a yard of fabric and a paint brush and claim to be a professional.

I don’t begrudge them, really I don’t. I think when it comes to design either you have it or you don’t. The “it” being the creative eye to see what others don’t see. I can walk into any room and immediately see the possibilities. Most people can’t do that. It’s a blessing and a curse. I usually walk into homes or restaurants or hotels and immediately think of all the things I would do differently. It drives my husband crazy. I am never happy with my own house – although I have no problems at all telling other people what they should do with theirs.

Despite all the design background I have, I have never really been a DIY person. I’m getting better at it. I can paint a room like nobody’s business, but I wouldn’t know the first thing about laying down flooring or installing new pipes or appliances. The people that can do that? I so admire them. Some of the projects Monica has worked on have blown me away. I’m just not that crafty or hands-on. What she can do with a can of Krylon!

I think every client I have ever had has asked me the same question, “What are the rules?” Rules? What rules? The rules of design? The rules of color? The rules about what can be put in a bedroom… or kitchen… or living room? I hate rules.

I’m going to let you in on a huge design secret. There are no rules. None. There are things some designers do… and others don’t. There are some colors designers would never think of using… and others would. When I graduated with my degree, I was not handed a rule book of design. If I was, I think the first page would say, “There are no rules.” That’s the way I like to design. I take what you like (or don’t like) and work with that. Like purple? I can do that. Like black walls? I can do that, too. There is no color that is off limits.

The best part about design is that there is something for everybody. Your home, your style… it’s a reflection of YOU. And why would YOU want to be anybody else?


Thanks so much Carolyn! As a person who takes months to pick a paint color, pick a sofa or pick the perfect curtains, I can safely say it’s because I feel I have to follow certain rules or principles. Instead, I should focus on making my home a reflection of my family and I. What scares you about making design choices in your home? Rules? Trends? Other people’s opinions? Let’s chat about it in the comments!



  1. Amy
    September 16, 2011 / 2:12 pm

    Paint colors scare me. It's so hard to tell from a chip of paint how a color will read in a room with all the decor. I really am terrible at it, and with a new house we're moving into, I hope I don't mess up with choosing colors!

  2. Carolyn
    September 16, 2011 / 2:21 pm

    Amy… the thing with color chips is that they always end up darker when you paint your walls. Blues and greens are the hardest to match since so much of the color depends on the lighting in the room. A lot also depends on the texture of your walls. ALWAYS get a sample to try out and remember that even if you want the color a little lighter or a little darker, you just have to ask and they can add a little white or black to change it up a bit.

  3. Monica @
    September 16, 2011 / 2:29 pm

    I agree about the paint color swatches ending up darker. At Wal-Mart, the french gray looked like a dusty blue color…then I put it on my wall at home and it looked NAVY. That's what poor lighting does to a room. At least the paint testers are only $3-$5 nowadays. I actually used a $5 paint tester from Sherwin Williams to paint an entire accent wall!

  4. Amy
    September 16, 2011 / 2:36 pm

    Oh wow..I had no idea about paint ending up darker. We're looking at painting the whole house over time, and sadly, my plan is master bedroom a nice light blue (with a hint of grey) and the kitchen a nice light green to brighten up the kitchen. Eek! Looks like I have my work cut out for me! I'll definitely try sample cans…but there's SO many choices haha!

  5. Carolyn
    September 16, 2011 / 6:05 pm

    I worked as a color consultant for a local paint company for a while and found that picking colors is the most stressful part of redecorating.

  6. Ashley
    September 17, 2011 / 1:47 pm

    I hate choosing paint colors. I never know what colors will look good together. I have a hard time picturing the finished outcome. I usually just follow my gut and it's turned out good so far ;)hewella1 at gmail dot com

  7. Gypsy Heart
    September 17, 2011 / 5:11 pm

    IMHO, it's best to buy the small tester bottles/cans of paint and try them on the wall. Colors change and especially due to the different light of day and night.I'm a new follower and look forward to getting to know you! I hope you'll stop by and say hi when you can.xoPat

  8. Elisabeth
    September 21, 2011 / 7:35 pm

    I'm always scared to commit to a certain look or style because I don't want be stuck with it if I change my mind later, when really it's no big deal because I CAN change it if I want. Thanks for the post and your giveaway. 🙂

  9. Mrs. Wonder
    September 22, 2011 / 3:26 pm

    I am so skipping paint right now. Whoever flipped the house we just bought painted everything white and 'swiss mocha' but it fits the colors we had in our furniture already.Someday, though, I'm painting at least the bedroom!

  10. Mrs. Wonder
    September 22, 2011 / 3:27 pm

    Also, what scares me most is that I wont't like it a few months/year from now. I'm an impulsive shopper.