5 best design features of House Rules season 2

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With budget pressures, time pressures and a whole lot of stress, House Rules renovations often focus more on getting the job done than they do creating particularly novel designs. But, while season 2 was fraught with even more drama and difficulty than we would have expected, the teams still managed to throw in some top design features that we can all learn from. Some simple, some unexpected, some inspired, some a little odd, we've put 5 of our faves together for you to remember...

1. Low feature lighting

Lighting is little more than a condiment for most of our design delights. But making it a feature in itself is a simple step to turn an amateur renovation into one which will get people to notice your true eye for design.

The low-lighting feature doesn't refer to utilising a dimmer switch but, rather, to bringing the light itself down from the ceiling to sit low over a particular feature. Not only does the light itself then play a visual design role, but it also overtly draws attention to the feature below which it hangs. Whether that be a dining room table or a kitchen sideboard, the effect is to close out the rest of the room to focus on one stylish point.

Carole and Russell dropped the lights in Adam and Lisa's dining room, as did Maddi and Lloyd's in Bomber and Mel's SA house. But the standout low-light was another Carole and Russell creation - three lemon yellow lamps hanging over both the dining room table and breakfast bar in Candy and Ryan's NSW house. Perfect use of an excellent design feature.

2. Taupe. Everywhere

No, we didn't expect this one either, but taupe, in all its dullness, is actually a brave and stylish step on from the classic washed out look of plain modernism. At first we thought the team might be playing it safe with neutral, uninspiring decor. But as the grey to brown theme emerged a little more frequently, we saw it for all its design potential.

From the grey walls in Candy and Ryan's new kitchen, to the stone seating in Maddi and Lloyd's dining room. From Lisa and Adam's stripy hallway, to the cold blue-grey suede in Maddi and Lloyd's lounge. Taupe was everywhere, and it proved the versatility of it as a colour rich for design: As both a neutral backdrop to brighter features and a professional tone to raise formality, the teams showed us that taupe is not quite as dull as we thought.


3. More murals: the answer to the "one colour wall" cliche

We need to put aside some of the slightly dodgy art features that some of the teams opted for this series, albeit attempts to jazz up a room or to "fit in" with the House Rules they were set. But the slightly more successful, and surprisingly rather popular, option was to be a bit more bold and go for the full wall mural.

Designers have been telling us for a while that a feature wall is the perfect way to manipulate the feel of a room; by size, space, light or to focus in on a certain area. A mural wall is a very stylish step on from this. Candy and Ryan's woodland living room wall, in Adam and Lisa's house, was the stand out mural of the series, only winning by a margin over Carole and Russell's blue flowered wall in the unit makeover challenge. But, by contrast, Bomber and Mel's attempts at Nepalese style left them with an Everest mural which demonstrated a slightly lazy approach to design, and proved that compliment is the key for getting a mural right, not just concept.

4. Zig Zag, seriously

The big impact zigzag had an unexpected prominence this series. But the design point here is using an original and unlikely feature (like zigzag patterning) to make a design really stand out. First Brooke and Grant treated Candy and Ryan to the audacious zigzag rug in their master bedroom. Then Adam and Lisa repaid Brooke and Grant the favour in the kid's bedroom. Zigzags are a big statement, but they're also a very intentional design choice; taking a risk to make a design stand out.

So the zigzag stood out to us because, really, it could have ruined the rooms. Black and white zigzag is an impact piece, it doesn't help with the lines in a room, it doesn't help with size or layout and, if anything, it makes a room look messy by turning the periphery to static and muddling up the features.


But everywhere it was used it seemed to work, even when Candy and Ryan opted for some subtle zigzagging in Bomber and Mel's bedroom. Crucially, it showed that even the most unlikely of patterns can be made to work. Design is all about taking risks to try something that hasn't been tried before, and that the zigzag caught on throughout the show is testament to an original idea working.

5. Fresh fancies

Practically every article we've written during this season of House Rules has made reference to a certain staple feature of almost every design. And so successful was it in pretty much every instance that we simply cannot leave it off our top five list.

But, at the same time, the real design tip here is not to overdo any single look. While the cans of citrus paint and stacks of brightly covered cushions worked time after time to freshen up designs, it soon became a rather predictable method to get a quick win with the judges.

So, as a word of warning to all you budding designers: While House Rules might have given us a simple and seemingly unfailing tip to colour our home designs, it also made the same tip ubiquitous. That means that the more we turn to this quick-fix, bright colour solution, the more we turn to unoriginal design to stifle our creativity, rather than coming up with something new. Fashions change fast, and what the fresh, fancy look of House Rules season 2 really taught us is that style gets tired fast if it's overused. Here's to originality.

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