Home Decorating Sarah Gibson’s House Rules: 14 Inspiring Rules To Live By

Sarah Gibson’s House Rules: 14 Inspiring Rules To Live By

When Sarah Gibson was in design school, one of her professors asked the class to start a collection of interior inspiration images on Tumblr. Gibson called hers Room for Tuesday (the day of the class), and kept the name when she started blogging about her own home renovations, which eventually usurped interior design as her full-time career. Ten years later, Gibson’s blog is still a document of her projects, but it’s also a mini design school for her community. Gibson shares infinitely practical advice like how to floorplan, how to get millwork right, and how to select a rug. While there’s no way to sum up all of the advice from her decade of blogging, here are Sarah Gibson’s house rules for creating a timeless, beautiful home.

Find a touchstone

Gibson suggests finding a jumping-off point for a room’s inspiration. “If I stumble across a beautiful rug or an amazing piece of art, I pull color from that,” she explains. “From there, I can choose different finishes and swatches, but I really like to find a piece that inspires the entire palette for the room.” She notes that sometimes finding inspiration can be accidental or intentional.

Think siblings – not twins

“I like homes to feel cohesive, but I don’t want my rooms to all match perfectly,” Gibson says. “I want each room to be able to stand on its own and feel interesting, but they also need to feel like they are part of the same family – that they belong under the same roof.”

Be a discerning vintage shopper

“I love vintage shopping,” says Gibson. “If I find a great piece, I’ll put it in our storage unit and wait for the perfect moment to use it.” When she is shopping secondhand, Gibson looks for signs of craftsmanship: Is it heavy? Does it have a good patina? Does it have dovetail joints? Down cushions? “If something is well made, you can reupholster it and get another 50 years out of it,” she adds. 

Refresh your interiors seasonally (but minimally)

Gibson changes up her decor in the cooler and warmer halves of the year, but, “I don’t like to switch things up too dramatically because it’s a lot of time and energy,” she says. Instead, she does low-lift swaps like decorative pillows, throws, and bedding. “I am a big fan of flannel sheets in the fall and something lighter and cooling like Tencel in the summer,” she notes. 

Perfect your shelfie game

When styling your shelves, Gibson suggests you “stand back and look at the shelf like a landscape.” Does it feel balanced? Look at the colors, texture, and scale, and don’t limit yourself just to books. “I like to display trinkets from our travels that remind us of a trip, but other people might use family items and heirlooms,” she adds.

Embrace negative space

“I love negative space because it gives your eye a place to rest,” says Gibson, who adds, “Too much clutter gives me anxiety.” Try to keep negative space in mind when you are designing. For example, Gibson says, “Even though I love a built-in stuffed full of books, I’ll make sure the wall adjacent has some breathing room to balance it out.”

Get playful with paint

If you want to be bolder in your decor, Gibson says to experiment with paint. “Instead of a white kitchen, why not do a really fun, interesting cabinetry color?” Gibson muses. “You can paint something yourself, it’s relatively easy to do, and in the worst case scenario, if you hate it, you live with it for a month and then paint it a different color,”

Dip your toes into wallpaper

Grasscloth is so timeless, it will never go out of style,” says Gibson. “It gives you texture, color, and an interesting wall treatment without having to commit to a super-bold floral.” When you’re ready to try something more daring, Gibson suggests starting small. “I love bold wallpaper in smaller spaces, like a powder room or the interior of a closet. That’s just a fun surprise that is really impactful.”

Float your furniture

“I like to arrange furniture so that the home really flows when you’re walking through it,” says Gibson. “I am not a fan of pushing furniture tight against the wall. I will never arrange a sofa against the wall if I can help it.” Gibson thinks furniture pulled closer to the center of the room adds depth, encourages better traffic flow,

Streamline your trim styles

“I see people mixing so many styles, but I try to keep all our millwork cohesive,” says Gibson, who suggests you use the same style of crown molding throughout your home. “It doesn’t have to be the same width or thickness–just the same style so that it ties the home together.”

Look to the past for inspiration

Gibson’s home was built in the 90s and has a colonial style on the exterior, so she used that as her inspiration for the interior to stay true to the house’s architectural era.  “Millwork, a fireplace—these heavy architectural elements should match the architecture,” she says. “Lighting, furniture, textiles and rugs are areas where you can experiment and make a contrast between old and new.”

When it comes to rugs, size matters

Before she even thinks about color or pattern, Gibson is focused on the right size rug for her space. “Floorplanning and knowing what furniture pieces and rug you need for a space is really important,” she says. “I always know exactly what I am looking for based on my floor plan. I’ll start searching based on those dimensions.” If you’re having trouble figuring out what size you need, Gibson says to tape it out with painter’s tape to visualize. She also recommends buying a right-size neutral jute or sisal rug and layering a smaller antique rug on top.

Natural fibers are always a good bet

When shopping for rugs Gibson looks for natural materials. “They hold up really well and are timeless,” she says of wool, jute, and sisal. Gibson notes that her most controversial blog post of all time was one in which she suggested using wool rugs in kitchens in bathrooms. “It’s counterintuitive, but wool is great for wet-rated spaces because it is naturally moisture-wicking and antimicrobial.”

Embrace materials that patina

Gibson also loves wool because it is extremely durable and ages gracefully. “Any material that gets more beautiful with age is awesome,” she says. “I like living brass because with time you get that beautiful patina. Likewise, soapstone gets better with age: The veining starts to come out and you see these really beautiful speckles.”

Quick Fire with Sarah Gibson

Tea or Coffee, and how do you take it?
Coffee — black!
What is your ideal day?
I would get outside (hiking with the dogs, kayaking, boating, skiing, etc.), go thrifting, and end with a delicious home-cooked meal.
Most Treasured Possession:
My wedding ring: It’s an antique. 
Qualities you look for in a friend:
Supportive, honest, fun, loving, accepting, adventurous, and dependable 
Biggest Influence:
My husband Emmett 
Favorite playlist/artist:
Currently 60’s/70’s summer on Spotify
Guilty Pleasure:
Ice cream
Feel-Good Ritual:
Daily dog cuddles with Cash, our wire fox terrier, and Crosby, our Irish doodle
Current State of Mind:
Was this article helpful?

Leave a Comment