AHR's Design Rules

August 14, 2022

AHR's Design Rules

"Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist." - Pablo Picasso

When you think of creativity, rules probably aren’t the first thing that come to mind. But in art, as in life, there are certain rules that point us in the right direction and give us a better chance for success; interior design is no exception. The following are guidelines for some of the most common stumbling blocks I see, those tricky little design conundrums you shouldn't need a degree to master.

 Art Hanging Rules

 Pro Tip: Don’t let the tallest person in your home hang the art (or if you do, have them read this first).

Hands down, the most common mistake I see relates to the hanging of art and believe me when I say it is almost never too low. Wall art is incredibly impactful

The Guidelines
  • The middle of your artwork or mirror should sit 57”-60” above your floor.
  • If your ceilings are 8’0-9’0, the middle of your piece should sit at 57”-58”.
  • If your ceilings are higher than 9’0, the middle of your piece should sit at 59”-60”.
  • When hanging artwork over a piece of furniture, such as a chest of drawers or a sofa, leave no more that 4-8” between the top of the furniture and the bottom of the piece of art. This helps maintain the visual relationship between the two.
  • When hanging two or more pieces of art together, leave 1.5”-3” between each piece.


Rug Size Rules

Pro Tip: You likely need a larger rug.

Our next set of guidelines addresses rug size. The second most common mistake I see in homes is using a rug that is too small for a space. I get it, rugs aren’t cheap, they’re an investment. But most living rooms need at least an 8’0 x 10’0 if not a 9’0 x 12’0 size rug. Our living spaces have gotten bigger and more open meaning that smaller rugs can often end up looking like a postage stamp. The goal of an area rug is to ground a space by pulling all the elements together and adding a bit of softness underfoot. Because there’s a lot riding on it in terms of cost and overall cohesiveness, it’s important to get rug size right.

The Guidelines
  • As mentioned above, most spaces require an 8’0 x 10’0 or a 9’0 x 12’0 size rug. Smaller rugs can be layered over larger rugs, creating visual interest as well as the ability to incorporate a beloved rug that might otherwise be too small, but the larger of the two rugs should meet these sizing guidelines.
  • Rugs should generally run the length of the sofa, meaning the long side should run parallel to the length of your sofa.
  • There should be 6-8” of rug extending past the ends of your sofa.
  • If all furniture is going to be on the rug, make sure the rug extends 8” past the furniture but also leaves about a foot of space between the wall and the carpet.
  • The old rule that all furniture should be on or off a rug no longer applies. Furniture can be on, off, partially on or some combination of the three.

Living Room Rules

Pro Tip: Your coffee table shouldn’t float in the middle of your living room (unless the middle of your living room is 12-18” from your sofa).

Consider how you use your living room. Do you like to snack while watching tv (or are you a monster)? Do you enjoy entertaining friends? How do you move within the space? There are certain dimensions that apply to the spaces in your home and the placement of objects within it that ensure it can be navigated in a way that won’t have you stubbing your toe, spilling your snack or yelling to be heard.

The Guidelines
  • The optimal distance between a sofa and coffee table is no more than 18” but no less than 12”.
  • The distance between a sofa and an occasional chair should be no less than 3’0 and no more than 10’0 for ease of conversation.
  • Paths of travel, such as the route taken from the sofa to the kitchen, should be 3’0 wide, but 2’6” will do in a pinch.
  • Side tables should be placed within easy reach of the furniture piece they are servicing. If you struggle to put a glass down, it’s too far away.

There you have it! A few of the most common decorating stumbling blocks made easier. Is there something you’re struggling with? If so, leave it in the comments below and I’ll compile another set of rules for a later post!

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