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Sep 26, 2016 01:45PM ● By Ren Campbell

The kids are back in school, vacation is over and the heat and humidity of summer are leaving. As you begin to reorganize your schedule you might look to reorganizing your home also. So, while the youngsters are learning the rules of the classroom, let’s look at the rules of design and home building. First off – what are rules? Meant to be broken? Guidelines? Simple paths for simple people? Golden? There are “rules” and there are “principals” of design. If you have or want to have or think you have “good taste”… then follow the rules, listen to your mother, copy your neighbor, and by all means keep all the furniture on or off the rug.

What I’m interested in is seeing the person reflected in the space they live in. While I do not think there are really any absolutes to follow, it can make your work easier if you treat absolutes as hints and techniques developed through the experience of professionals. There are certain things to pay attention to when creating a home, there are certain things to avoid and there are some ideas that are just screwball. I don’t say “Dare to be different,” I say “Dare to be you.” The main thing about design is that it really is little more than editing.

You will find your own style and begin to express it with panache if you just read the following. You’ll start thinking differently, so beware:

  1. Study some of the existing “rules” and decide which ones you like. Keep those that make you think “Yes” and don’t bother with the rest. You’ve been alive for a few years. You’ve surely snooped around and seen a few other peoples’ homes, and, I hope, you look around and notice the world you live in.

  2. Some things work, some things don’t – pay attention to your gut instincts when you walk into a space; your intuition is your ally.

  3. We are naturally inclined, being mammals, to flee a place that feels unsafe. The main function of the primal brain stem or ‘lizard brain’ is to keep you alive. If a place feels uncomfortable, ask yourself ‘why?’ Is it the ceiling height, the colors, the light, the amount of furniture? We are inclined to feel comfortable, at ease, in a place that provides a safe haven – what is that place like for you?

  4. Give yourself time to experience yourself in your home; think about those places you feel really good in; look around and wonder at where you are and decide what works for you – not your mother or best friend or style magazine.

  5. Be inspired to follow your own path.

“You know you have reached perfection of design not when you have nothing more to add, but when you have nothing more to take away” Antoine de Saint-Exupery


About the author: Ren Campbell has practiced the discipline of architectural interior design for over 30 years. He’s been a University studio instructor and currently consults with individuals on their issues concerning their homes and how they live in them. For House Therapy questions, email [email protected].

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