Design Conventions v. Rules


Convention or Rule? Which ones you can break and which must be followed...

  • Countertop height = 36”
  • Chair seat height = 17”
  • The Golden Ratio … Rule of Thirds (or Rule of Threes)
  • Wall art height = 57” to center
  • Upper Kitchen Cabinets
  • Room three color ratio = 60/30/10
  • Crown moulding for elegant rooms
  • Full height backsplashes
  • Curtain dimensions = window width x 3
  • Baseboard height = 7% wall height
  • Laundry doesn’t belong in the kitchen
  • Recessed can lights in every room
  • You must find a style and stay consistent

What does your arm, your face, a pine cone, a sunflower, a sea shell, broccoli, a business card, your coffee table, your flat screen, and the Milky Way galaxy all have in common?

Middle Ages, Italian mathematician, Fibonacci was counting rabbits as they breed and developed a number sequence to describe their multiplication - each number is the sum of the previous two … 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, etc. … the Fibonacci Sequence. From Fibonacci Sequence comes the ratio 1:1.6 - now known as The Golden Ratio, Divine Proportion. Turns out 1:1.6 didn't just explain rabbits, but all sorts of things …

When you graph that ratio it forms a very familiar spiral … nautilus shell, sunflower seeds, scales of pine cones, cabbage, broccoli florets, the sequence by which many trees distribute their branches, by which many plants arrange their leaves, the spiral of every hurricane, the spiral of the Milky Way galaxy … and … the double helical twist of human DNA.

So here's the point: the golden ratio 1:1.6 is the basis of the rule of thirds. Not a convention but rather a rule that we discover … literally inside us. And by the way, they are on the outside of us too … finger, wrist arm … face (universal standard of beauty). Business cards, 3x5 flash cards, credit cards, flat screens, computer monitors, tablets, smart phones, billboards, web pages … most of the stuff we stare at finds it's way to the golden ratio … because we like it.

Height of base, case and crown:

  • baseboard = 7% wall height
  • casing = 50% baseboard
  • crown = something between case & base

Color proportions: 60-30-10 - complimentary colors - golden ratio on spectrum

  • Use paint company apps, i.e.: Benjamin Moore’s “Color Capture”
  • General rule: darker to lighter, floor to ceiling (as in nature)

Drapes:

  • Let the light in, black outs for bedrooms and media only
  • How high? Higher makes window/door larger
  • How long? Pooling - Relaxed=2-3”, formal =1-1.5”, store bought 84” panels fall short.
  • How wide? Try to set panels outside the window line, but consider thirds.
  • Roman shades when curtains can't touch floor
  • Blend with wall colors, stark contrast can get heavy

Pillows: Dean has 3 rules:

  1. Enough for 2/3 coverage or 1/3 coverage
  2. How many - Foolproof rule of 3 … 1 big pattern, 1 stripe or dot, 1 solid
  3. Make sure they’re useful.

Wallpaper:

  • Where? Feature wall
  • Pattern - If the room is busy keep the wallpaper simple
  • If the room is simple the wallpaper can be bold
  • Wallpaper tones and colors count as part of your overall color mix
  • Wallpaper patterns are just like clothing patterns. Vertical stripes = taller, horizontal = longer

We ALL need expert, objective perspectives.

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images