Five design mysteries…demystified


1- Dark colours make a room smaller

Nope! No. Uh-Uh, this is not true. Dark walls can actually trick the eye into thinking the space is larger than it actually is. The reason for this is when the walls are dark they will look as if they are receding, giving the illusion of an infinite expanse. HOWEVER, if you have dark walls with bright white baseboards and door trim it may look choppy and draw attention to the different planes in the room therefore actually making it appear much smaller (and busy). In my previous house we had a very, teeny, tiny powder room that was barely big enough to turn around in. In fact when you sat on the toilet your knees butted up against the opposite wall (it was built in the 40’s and the toilet was literally unmovable)…anyhow we finished that bathroom in all black. Black wallpaper, ceiling and black tiled floor – it was a showstopper and felt much bigger. Sadly it was nearly impossible to photograph due to it’s cramped quarters.

A dark accent wall in Black+grey wallpaper make this room look more spacious

2- All furniture should match (style and fabric)

mmmm Why? Do you dress all matchy-matchy? Do your socks, pants and shirt match all the same? I’m betting the answer is no, so why would you do that in your space? Manufacturers want you to buy a complete furniture set because they make more money that way, but there is nothing more bland than having a perfectly matched sofa, loveseat and chair set or a complete dining room set. If there was a “dummies guide to buying furniture” I bet the first step would be ‘buy all matching furniture that way the whole design is done for you’. Don’t be afraid to mix a leather club chair with your existing sofa. Or even mixing retro and antique pieces with ultra-modern. This creates interest and breaks up any monotony (that’s a fancy word for booooring) that might have been there before.

Here the dining room chairs are mismatched as well as the island seating.

3- You can’t (or shouldn’t) have more than one wood type in a space

You can. Just have to be mindful about mixing too many different kinds of wood types and colours. When mixing woods try to keep warm tones with warm and cool tones with cool. I would also avoid mixing too many heavily grained wood cut types together, instead opting to mixing a strong grain such as Oak with a minimal grain like maple so that they are not competing with one another visually.

4- Furniture and accessories are expensive!

It can be but doesn’t have to! Try mixing flea market finds with new pieces. Or give hand-me-downs a new look with a lick of paint or new stain. What I am saying is that not ALL your furniture has to be brand new or custom, hell, if you are an avid DIY’er you can make your own stuff too. Being able to sew can enable you to change out cushion covers whenever you please at a fraction of the cost of new ones. These options are not only less money but they are more sustainable and add character/history to a space.

All the furniture/pieces you see in the image below were made by myself and the OH. The tree stump table, the rolling storage cart and even the floating bench.

A DIY tree stump table, floating bench and rolling cart storage.

5- Bold patterns make a space look busy and cluttered

Mixing patterns can be so much fun and is making a a resurgence in design called Maximalist decor. A tried and true method of mixing pattern is to have some commonality among it, be it a repeated colour or shape. Remember the 80’s and its wild colours and patterns…? Well it’s baaaaack. Find out more here. Or if you are like me and prefer a more minimal, pared back space you can still implement a bold pattern as a feature.

Bold star patterned tiles

I hope you found this post helpful and maybe even inspire you to make some fun changes to your space!