February 19, 2008

put that room on a spreadsheet

photo by aliceson on flickr

You've all read them online or seen them on television. There are annotated versions of them splashed on the cover of every design magazine on the rack. They are always there, preaching to us and preying upon us as we eagerly explore the realm of decorating and home styling.

They are: the "rules".

I can't control the natural response I have to that word. Just hearing it makes me cringe a little. It's not so much about me and my thoughts on "rules", but it's more about what my friends and clients have gone through in trying to obey them.

The world of decorating seems to love rules. There are so many of them out there, cleverly disguising themselves as harmless- even helpful. Yet many of these rules are haunting people as they attempt to apply them to their homes for a "successful" and measurable result. People are out there (right now!) gathering lists of "do's and dont's", analyzing countless interior photos, and crunching decor data at high rates of speed.

Here's the problem: Great rooms don't belong on a spreadsheet.


There are no absolutes in design. The formulas you find will always be contradicted, and the rules will always be challenged and proven incorrect. There is no final answer, no "right way". The story of a successfully-decorated home will never be short and simple, and it might also never end. Every corner of every room is punctuated with commas, dashes and semicolons- there are no periods.

A good room can be created by obeying a few rules and following some guidelines. A great room, though? A GREAT room will not have a formula. A great room is as complicated, contradictory, and curious as the person who lives there. After all, isn't that the point?

Can YOU be put on a spreadsheet?


Barb McMahon and Alan Mailloux said...

Amen sister!

Unknown said...

How great that you simplify everything for us and make us feel like we don't need a "designer education" to have a lovely room!

Anonymous said...

I think our design philosophies are sisters. I have decided it is so much fun to break "rules". I don't want to be put on a spreadsheet, I'm a unique, and sometimes quirky individual and my home should reflect those aspects of my character and personality--can't spreadsheet that. By the way, did this dissertation come to life as a result of my struggle with the senseless 60/30/10 rule?

Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

TOTALLY TRUE. I agree 100%, to talk in spreadsheet language.