By Joseph Pubillones

March 28, 2020 4 min read

The difference between an average room and an outstanding room is dependent on an impalpable element of surprise. The next time you walk into a room that you like, if you observe closely, you will find things that are surprising. That moment may happen around the art that was chosen or the type of accessories selected. Sometimes, the surprise may be the color chosen for the wall or the juxtaposition of colors in the room or the mix of furniture styles. Creating that element of surprise is what most homeowners yearn for and what many designers excel in.

Most rooms are conglomerations of the same pieces of furniture used over and over that are required for living: sofa, tables and chairs for a living room; dining table and chairs in a dining room; and a bed, nightstands, lamps and dressers in a bedroom. This is all a bit expected. So, how exactly do you transform these usual suspects into an extraordinary room with that element of surprise?

Creating that element of surprise almost always requires stepping out of your comfort zone and breaking some of the expected rules of interior design. Interior designers, like chefs or fashion designers, are always on a quest for the unexpected.

Some people may like a pattern-on-pattern approach to the selection of fabrics, while others may prefer a tone-on-tone room and resort to interesting textures or light fixtures for that "wow" factor.

Generally, your decorating style should make a statement about your lifestyle and about you. So, you may have to do some soul-searching to reveal something special so that element of surprise can be something about you. An instrument that you play, a collection of books that are of special interest to you or even a map tagged with all the places you've traveled to can all become part of the decor. The more unusual, the greater the element of surprise.

Other ways to incorporate elements of surprise into your decor are with unique items purchased while traveling abroad, framed quilts inherited from your family or a bright neon sign with a special message to contrast your home's traditional interior design. Even a floor pattern can act as an element of surprise; imagine walking into a striped marble pattern in an elegant and formal living room. An oversized chandelier in the entry hall can also make that statement. The possibilities are endless.

Finding your element of surprise can be the most satisfactory aspect of your project or home. Remember to concentrate on one or two items to make that statement. Using restraint in your search is key to making your item shine and not become just another object in the room. It's important to have a sharp focus so that your "wow" accessory accomplishes the task it originally set out to.

Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Florida. To find out more about Joseph Pubillones, or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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