I was about eight years old when I asked my grandma—a stylish, artistic retiree whose own paintings hung on her home’s walls—why the decorative pillows on the guest room twin beds were exactly the same. (I wanted a new pillow to distinguish “my” bed from my little brother’s.) “Because they’re supposed to match!” she replied with a shrug. Says who? I thought to myself.

Even then, I was skeptical of design “rules.” You know the ones: Never place a single chair on its own. Small spaces should have subtle decor. Neutral palettes and matching furniture are the ways to go. And whatever you do, don’t mix patterns!

Lucky for all of us, Denver isn’t a place that embraces dogma, especially when it comes to design. This issue is full of convention-busting moves that will convince you once and for all that you should style your home just the way you want. Inside a stately Denver Square in Park Hill, designers Katie Schroder and Erika Rundiks whipped up an explosion of contemporary color and pattern that proves older homes make excellent canvases for fresh ideas. A bit farther north, the bright, bold office of Boulder-based startup Rafflecopter is a testament to making decor decisions that suit your day-to-day life (like, you know, building in rug-free paths for skateboarding to the lunch room). And in “Looking Back,” you’ll find an ideal blend of historic architectural charm—courtesy of prolific early 20th-century architect Burnham Hoyt—and contemporary furnishings and fixtures that didn’t exist a century ago but somehow feel perfect for the space. (So much for that edict about making the furniture match the architectural period!)

There will always be design purists who abide by the rules, but for the rebels out there: I hope this issue inspires you to mix it up and have some fun.

Top Denver Design Submissions Open!

In preparation for our first-ever Top Denver Design issue, we’re accepting home submissions (whole-house projects or single rooms) at 5280.com/promotions/topdenverdesign. The top spaces will be photographed professionally and published in our winter 2016 issue. Homeowners and design pros alike are welcome to enter. But don’t delay—the deadline is June 30.

This article was originally published in 5280 Home Summer 2016.
Hilary Masell Oswald
Hilary Masell Oswald
As the former editor for two of 5280’s ancillary publications, Hilary Masell Oswald split her time between the vibrant design-and-architecture scene in the metro area for 5280 Home and the always-changing field of health for the annual 5280 Health.