I’m always being asked about interior design rules. For example, how high things should be, what size is best, and why something looks “off” – This week, I thought I’d share a few basic interior design rules to help my readers out.

corner of living room with two white armchairs and a black side table

Side Table Heights

Side tables should ideally be even with the arm height of your sofa, or the same height as the top of your mattress if we’re talking about bedroom design. That being said, you may not always be able to do that, so either a couple of inches higher or lower is fine. We would not suggest a difference of more than 3 inches higher or lower, because then it can start to look off, and the functionality of the table suffers too.

Ideal Rug Size

Ideally, you should ensure that your rug is large enough so that all of the furniture can sit on it. That being said, I know that’s not always possible, so at least make sure that the front half of all of your seating sits on your rug.  Also, you want to ensure that the rug is also not too big or too small for the room itself – It’s nice to have approximately 12-24 inches of floor showing around the edge. In the bedroom, you’ll want to aim for a minimum of 24-36 inches of rug extending past your bed.

Furniture Layout

When determining your furniture layout for a living room, it’s always great to keep conversation in mind. When creating a conversational seating area, be sure to keep the seating around 4-8 feet from each other, so you don’t feel too close or too far from your guests. Coffee tables should have approximately 18 inches from it and the edge of the seating around it. Anything less than that will make it hard to walk around, and anything less will make it hard to reach to put a drink down.  

Hanging Drapery

When hanging drapery, you should hang them as high as possible because the higher you go, the taller your room will feel. Make sure that your drapery rods extend past the window so that when your drapery panels are open, the fabric can stack off the windows, which allows for more light to come in and makes your windows look more substantial.

Hanging Artwork and Mirrors

When hanging artwork or decorative mirrors have the midpoint of the piece, sit at around 60 inches. If your home has high ceilings, you can hang it slightly higher, so the midpoint is about 65 inches. If you’re hanging art or decorative mirrors above a sofa or bed, you should have approximately 8-12 inches from the top of the sofa or bed to the bottom of your piece, depending on the height of your ceilings.

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Interior Design Rules


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