Debunking Common Home Decorating Myths

When at a loss as to which color palette to choose for your living room-the one your mom keeps on telling you which is also what her grandma used to tell her, or the one your heart proposes, recall some popular weather rhymes:

Mackerel scales and mares’ tails

Make tall ships carry small sails.


Red sky at night, sailors delight.

Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.

Weather rhymes have been developed by our ancestors after centuries of observing immutable weather truths. Not so with home decorating “truths.” Tastes change, and while “kitchens in yellow and girls’ rooms in pink” might have been the norm in the 1940s it’s not now, which means you’re free to follow what your heart tells you.

This is the only truth there is in home decorating. Incredibly, however, many are not aware of it, resulting in many DIY decorators unnecessarily spooked by non-existent decorating phantoms: bath tubs are found only in bathrooms; porticoes are used only for sitting or dining.; dining rooms are only for taking meals in. But really now, why ever couldn’t you have your bath tub outside of your house on the bluff overlooking Las Vegas below? Why couldn’t you have an extra bed over at your porch, nearer to the euphony of mating calls of the denizens of the night outside your porch–frogs, crickets, and other insects – that you love so much. Who says you couldn’t entertain your guests in your dining room? Indeed, who can say you have the wrong abstract wall art, or an uninteresting tree metal wall art?

As noted home decorating authority Lynette Jennings says, “Design at its best is all about freedom,” so let it all go hang. Here are some tips from the lady:

Design is an art, not a science

It’s not meteorology, and, therefore, is not about general truths, but about tastes. Which brings us to the next principle.

Design doesn’t have an absolute right or wrong

How can it be, when it’s about tastes, which varies from person to person. When Grant Wood painted his American Gothic in 1930, an irate Iowan threatened to cut off his ear. Another good example might be Tracey Emin’s My Bed, which shows, in addition to her unmade bed, assorted personal trash and flotsam. Many would dismiss this art piece as unadulterated trash, but if Saatchi paid US$ 1 million for it, there must be something special about it.

Design is about making one’s house a home

Design involves arrangements of a person’s space, taking a bit of one’s persona and expressing it in color, balance, texture, proportion; digging deep into a person’s notions and using it to describe what to him – not to anyone else–is “home.”

Design is making your home what you want it to be

If you get down to its very essence, design is about interventions to make your home just the way you want it to be, nothing more, nothing less.

In need of additional decorating ideas that include tropical wall art or wall decor? Article author and senior staff writer Danita Lickfelt provides many more free and unique ideas at


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