Seven Principles of Interior Design
Shhh! I am going to divulge the secrets to flawless interior design. Well, they’re not exactly secrets. In fact, they’re part of every interior design curriculum. They’re called the seven principles of interior design. A combination of these key principles are present in all well-designed interior spaces.
If you incorporate each of the principles to your home’s design scheme, you can create a beautiful interior that rivals that of the professionals. Let’s get started!
Unity, continuity and harmony are necessary to link all interior spaces. Using a variety of disparate styles throughout a home results in visual interruptions as you travel from one area to another. Each of your interior spaces should work together to create a unified whole.
Use similar design elements to unify your decorating scheme. For instance, painting each room a different color can be jarring. However, if you unify the spaces by using a limited palette of complimentary colors, you will create visual flow and harmony.
Balance in interior design refers to the proper distribution of objects in a room to create visual balance. There are three ways to create balance in a room:
Using symmetrical balance is the most common way to accomplish visual equilibrium. To create symmetrical balance on a mantel, place one large object in the center (like a painting) and place matching objects on either side of the mirror. This is a simplistic example, but it illustrates perfect balance.
When employing asymmetrical balance in your home, you will create a more relaxed feel. Let’s use the mantel example again. Instead of matching candlesticks, you can substitute dissimilar objects with similar dimensions to maintain that even distribution of visual weight. Although it takes a bit more effort to achieve, asymmetry will give your room a more casual appearance.
Radial balance is the arrangement of objects around and radiating out from a larger central object. The most familiar example of radial balance is a table positioned in the center of a dining room. The placement chairs and other furnishings in the room are based on the table as a central focal point.
Rhythm, in music and interior design, are similar in nature. Consider the rhythmic beat of a song and repetitive design elements in a room. Your foot taps to the beat and your eye bounces about a room to take in the design elements. Bring a sense of rhythm and movement to your rooms with color, shape, size, texture or pattern through repetition, progression, transition.
Repetition is extremely easy to accomplish, just do so with a light hand. Using pops of orange throughout a room will do the trick. However, be aware that too much repetition in a room can be as annoying as listening to the same techno track all day, every day!
Progression is achieved by using a group of like objects that vary in size. A collection of seashells, candles or even pumpkins, ranging from small to large, are all examples of progression.
Transition is a bit more difficult to describe. It helps guide the eye gently and smoothly from one object or room to another. Arched doorways, windows and curvaceous furniture are the most common transitional tools in interior design.
Contrast in a room can refer to color, form and use of space. As with repetition, a little contrast goes a long way.
One of my favorite ways to create contrast is through color. Nothing creates visual impact quite like using black and white in a room.
Another effective way to add contrast is with form, such as the use of a large round mirror above a sofa, a round side table and two square ottomans used as a coffee table. This gives you a contrast of circles and squares.
Contrast also involves positive and negative space in a room. Just as you have areas of positive visual activity, you should also include areas of empty (negative) space to create a contrast in volume. Keep this in mind when arranging the contents of a room.
Emphasis is something we all know about. It simply means that every room or space has a focal point, whether it is architectural or an object. A fireplace is the most common architectural focal point. Oversized artwork or a large piece of furniture can also be a focal point in a room.
Interior design elements like color, texture and form are used to add emphasis to a focal point. If you refaced your fireplace with bronze glass tiles, you have used color and texture to create emphasis.
Scale and Proportion
Have you ever been in a large room in which the furniture feels dwarfed by the space; or a small room where the furniture overpowers the space? If so, you understand the importance of scale. Scale relates to the size of objects within a space.
Proportion, on the other hand, refers to the size of one object to another. For instance, you have a large, overstuffed chair and next to it, you place a diminutive side table. The proportions of the items are all wrong. A dainty slipper chair with the side table makes much more visual sense.
Details in interior design go far beyond the accessories in a room. Think of the details as decorations on a cake. They are the small, subtle touches that can make a huge impact in a room. Things like trim on a pillow, a crystal lamp finial or decorative switch plate and outlet covers add little touches of personality to your home that bring your design scheme full circle!
© 2012 lindacee