Design Gone Wild: Taking Risks in Interior Design

Designs usually follow a certain rule. Neutrals are the safest colors, furniture should always go in sets, and kitchens should follow the work triangle. The design is art and art is all about getting creative. So how much creativity can one tolerate and what is considered as extreme and completely over-the-top? More importantly, is anyone up for it?

The usual design can sometimes be boring and for people looking for a little adventure in their design, there are some ways of achieving it without going overboard.

1. Double the Mirror, Double the Vanity
One trend that some people will question is the trend of putting a mirror on top of another mirror. Does it even have a purpose or purely to please the vain out there? Imagine a plain frameless mirror on the wall. A mirror enhances a small space and is always a useful addition to make a room appear visually larger than it is. And then it got boring to look at, but a waste to get rid of. Here's where layering it with a smaller framed mirror comes into purpose. Sunburst, framed oval or rectangular mirrors and Venetian mirrors can make that plain, old, lifeless mirror come to life. Make sure to ask a professional glass installer on how to layer a mirror on top of another one. Seven years of bad luck doesn't worth the DIY route.

2. Explosion of Colors
Colors bring life to spaces and for many years, designers have played it safe with neutral colors. With Pantone releasing a new color every year, there have been some changes in color choices when it comes to deciding on a palette for a room. Darker colors are now popular choices for wall accents and neon bright colors even get to play a part in the color room. Black walls and neon chair why not? A solid black accent wall can bring out so many design possibilities and even in fashion, black goes with anything. It can make the colors of artwork pop out. It can be timeless and classy with the addition of metallic pieces. Neon can be overwhelming but in small unexpected doses, it brings out the potential of small items that wouldn't even be noticed in ordinary colors. Shelves, drawer faces, lavatory faucets, pendant lights or an accent chair placed in a neutral living room are all the ways neon colors can be used without making the viewer's eyes pop out.

3. Mismatched Patterns
Patterns can be trickily ranging from the mild and subtle geometric patterns to a crazy and wild explosion of zebra patterns. A pinch of paisley, a dash of chevron, a sprinkle of floral, mix that all together and the craziest, uninhabitable space come to life. It doesn't have to be crazy though. Knowing which pattern goes with what can help bring down the crazy. Stripes and polka dots are one of the simplest and safest patterns that can be mixed with other patterns. Florals are some of the trickiest to combine owing to the many curves and colors of it. But they can be paired with slightly toned down patterns such as the stripes mentioned earlier.

The colors of patterns should also be considered. For example, a room with two colors such as blue and green can make use of all those patterns. However, the patterns should be in one of those colors to keep the harmony. Another way to use a mismatched array of patterns is by using it in a space that's more conservative with its main colors.

4. Mismatched Furniture
If mismatched patterns were a crazy idea, mismatched furniture might give an organized and neat freak the heart attack. Design catalogs gave the idea that matching dining sets, living room sets and even toilet fixtures should always come as a set. Matching everything lacks creativity and doesn't show off the personal taste of the owner. One of the most common ways to be quirky when it comes to arranging furniture is through the use of mismatched dining chairs. One way to pull it off is by using chairs with subdued colors aka pastels. Another idea is to get different chairs but in the same color.

Mismatching furniture can also come from choosing pieces from different furniture. This is a bold move to take but sometimes a Chesterfield sofa can go well with a modern armchair. The key to making mismatched furniture work is to keep the room neat and organized, otherwise when filled with clutter, well, it's just clutter.

5. Upcycling
Upcycling is the process of turning an existing item into something new. This has been popular with many homeowners because it's cheap, anyone can do it and it can turn something old and decrepit into something with a renewed purpose. This is a good thing so why is it considered a design risk? It's become a risky move because a lot of people don't have the patience to DIY and the projects usually turn out for the worst. Starting small by not risking old furniture and go to thrift shops or yard sales instead to pick up some vintage items. Give a vintage chair new life by sanding and painting it. After getting the hang of it, moving on to bigger projects can become a habit. An outgrown crib can be turned into a bench with storage underneath. Even broken tiles, bottles and plates can find a place on a kitchen backsplash.

6. Decorative Floors and Ceilings
Floors and ceilings are usually the last things any homeowner wants to mess with. Drop and recessed ceilings are widely used in homes but painting flat ceilings in a bold color is rarely advised. There are accent walls so why couldn't there be accent ceilings. Neutral rooms can be made more exciting by painting the ceiling in a color that nobody would have ever thought of putting up there. Black, yellow or a bright red ceiling can make for a different and fun interior.

The same could be said for floors. Tired of the usual wooden floors? Take it up a notch higher by painting it and even crazier, paint a pattern on the floor.

All these ideas may be risky but it's a risk worth taking because space should feel personal and what better way to personalize a space than experimenting and straying away from the norm.

- Ali, Nawwar Shukriah, Nuur Farhana Khairuddin, and Shahriman Zainal Abidin. "Upcycling: Re-use and recreate functional interior space using waste materials." DS 76: Proceedings of E&PDE 2013, the 15th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, Dublin, Ireland, 05-06.09. 2013. 2013.

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Last review and update: August 27, 2018

About the Author

Patty Benjabutr is an interior design enthusiast. She loves to write about actionable home decor knowledge because she believes interior design content is something much more than a collection of beautiful photos. You can contact Patty via e-mail.