This is the time of year when well-intended, optimistic people start thinking about New Year’s resolutions. What are yours? What promises will you try to keep? What rules will you try to follow? How happy would you be if I told you to go ahead and break a few? Think of me as Santa’s own interior designer bringing you a stocking full of freedom and ideas.

The first idea, or rule to break, is to stop limiting tile to bathrooms, kitchens, fireplaces and entry floors. There are so many great-looking tiles on the market just begging to be seen. Large porcelains and glass tile fit contemporary homes and stone mosaics and patterned, painted tile define any personality. Instead of painting an accent wall, think of the texture, originality and interest that tile would add instead.

I recently designed custom cabinetry to flank a ceiling-high stucco fireplace. I made the cabinets 54 inches high and covered the remaining 42-inch walls above them in a rectangular, hand-painted, hand-glazed tile.

Another rule to consider breaking is having matching sets of dining chairs. Instead, mix them up. If yours are wood or metal, think about getting two upholstered end chairs. Or if your table is long enough, use a bench for one side of seating. A bench with a back and a seat cushion is best for comfort.

When it comes to color, I bet you’ve heard that greens, blues and neutrals are soothing in bedrooms. Last year, I chose an orange-and-white color scheme for a client who I have known since childhood. Back then, her favorite color was bold, tangerine orange. Decades later, it still is. It seemed logical to break another rule in order for my client to begin and end each day surrounded in a color she loves.

The typical rule for hanging art is to make its center at eye level or around 60 to 65 inches. This rule, admittedly, is a difficult one for me to break but I’m game as long as there are other pieces to hang above or below it. The idea is to think of more places to hang or lean art — like in bookcases, above a lonely chair or all along a strip of wall molding.

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Some of you have already wisely broken this next rule. A rule that seems, at first, to be reasonable. That is, putting small furnishings into small spaces. But what this really does is break the space into more spaces. And small spaces at that. A large piece, on the other hand, breaks the space up less and gives the illusion that it must be bigger in order to handle such a big piece of furniture. In terms of illusion, let me add more food for thought. Crown molding does not shrink the height of ceilings. It draws your eye upward. The “up” in upward makes your brain think something is high or tall.

Many established design rules are best not broken. But the ones above? I say, “Revel in rebellion in 2016.”

Patti L Cowger is a Napa-based interior designer and owner of PLC Interiors. For more information about her design services, visit her website at plcinteriors.com call (707) 322-6522; or email plcinteriors@sbcglobal.net. Demystifying Design appears every other Saturday.

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