Is There One Right Way to Decorate?


by Kelly Anne Bonner The question for the ages appears to be one about whether, in fact, there are hard and fast rules to decorating "correctly." Taken at face value, in light of the wide variety of styles and tastes out there, you'd think one would immediately be able to suggest that, no—there isn't one right way to decorate. As our site, sites like Pinterest, and the array of designers with vastly different ideas about how to outfit a space will tell you, decorating is an imaginative and malleable process, prone to moving in a host of directions you may never have entertained before seeing pieces actually working together into an aesthetically-pleasing look before your eyes. If this were the case, though, we wouldn't be stumbling upon several articles of late written on the topic that have made the flexibility of the "right" way to decorate a point of debate. We, of course, stand by the tried-and-true method that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that everyone has the opportunity to be happy with a design scheme and taste that works well for them and their lifestyle. But the fact that the nebulous process of decorating has been brought up in these terms—i.e., that there is many a pitfall one can make while navigating a task that doesn't have any rules, per se—is worth exploring.

Image via sfgirlbybay.


Image via Homedit

We can see the meat of this discussion stemming back to discourses on beauty and aesthetics that bogged down some of the greatest minds of past centuries. As decorating works to create the state of making a space look "beautiful," this debate turns into whether or not the beauty of something is up for interpretation by the individual, or there are fixed qualities that make something inherently beautiful. If we may be permitted to go old-school for just a moment, a quote by Immanuel Kant in Critique of Judgement (yes, that old school) helps us to define this concept as a bit of both—an interpretation by one person that requires agreement from the masses to acknowledge it as true:

If he proclaims something to be beautiful, then he requires the same liking from others; he then judges not just for himself but for everyone, and speaks of beauty as if it were a property of things.

In any case, the idea that there are hard-and-fast rules to decorating is a concept that fascinates us, as it seems there isn't so much agreement on the idea as one would have thought—and that apparently there are rules to decorating that many of us hadn't thought existed. While aesthetics is always in the process of being defined, so, too, does decor end up in that discussion, which is why the idea of decorating with specific stipulations becomes a point of contention. If the idea of what is beautiful eludes a fixed conception, can there be "rules" on how to make something as such? This may be one we have to think about for a while.

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