Principles of Interior Design

Whether you are working with existing furnishings and fabrics or “starting from scratch” with an empty room, you should always use the elements and principles of design as a guide in choosing everything. The elements are your tools or raw materials, much like paints are the basics to a painter. The elements of design include space, line, form, color, and texture. The principles of design relate to how you use these elements. The principles of design are balance, emphasis, rhythm, proportion and scale, and harmony and unity.

Design Principle #1: Balance 

Visual equilibrium in a room is called balance. It gives a sense of relaxation.  A well-balanced room gives careful consideration to the placement of objects according to their visual weight. The elements of line, form, color and texture all help determine an object’s visual weight which is the amount of space it appears to occupy. Balance also refers to how and where you place the elements (line, form, color and texture) within a room. To maintain balance, try to distribute the elements through out the room.

A) Formal balance, often referred to as symmetrical balance, creates mirror image effect.

B) Informal balance uses different objects of the same visual weight to create equilibrium in a room. It is more subtle and spontaneous and gives warmer, more casual feeling.

Design Principle #2: Emphasis

Emphasis is the focal point of the room. The focal point should be obvious as you enter the room; it is the area to which your eye is attracted. Featured areas should be the center of interest.  Emphasize the fireplace, artwork, or even a window treatment! Everything else should lead the eye to this point. You can add emphasis to a natural focal point or create one in a room through effective use of line, form, color and texture.

Design Principle #3:Rhythm

Rhythm helps the eye move easily from one object to another and creates harmony that tells the eye everything in the room belongs to a unified whole. It is also represented through repetition of line, form, color and texture.

Design Principle #4: Proportion and Scale 

Proportion and scale define size relationships in a room.  Proportion refers to how the elements within an object relate to the object as a whole. Scale relates to the size of an object when compared with the size of space in which it is located.

Design Principle #5: Harmony and Unity

A well designed room is a unified whole that encompasses all the other elements and principles of design. Unity assures a sense of order. There is a consistency of sizes and shapes, a harmony of color and a sense of rhythm. The ultimate goal of decorating is to create a room with unity and harmony and a sense of rhythm. Too much variety can cause a restless feeling. Juggling the elements and principles to get just the right mix is a key to good design.

For more design tips, read another one of our blogs here

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