Learn these key principles of interior design and decorating to make your space a pleasure to live in. Whether you’re a professional or an aspiring newcomer, these techniques will help anyone willing to learn.
Furnishing and decorating the interior of a dwelling is an art that has been debated and developed since time immemorial. Much has been said and written on the subtleties and techniques used to modify the look and feel of an indoor space. The reality is that much of this talk comes down to taste - truths pertaining to beauty and balance are often in the eye of the beholder, and should be treated as such. But there are several universal factors to interior design that are important to take into consideration, no matter how far afield your tastes may lie. Here are seven key interior design principles for your consideration.
This is the most fundamental and arguably the most important component of your interior design journey. There are three different categories of balance to draw from: symmetrical, asymmetrical and radial.
Symmetrical balance refers to a mirroring effect - keeping an identical feature set on either side of the space.
Asymmetrical balance refers to differing features on either side of the subject, but which hold equal weight.
Radial balance is slightly different as it finds its equilibrium radiating from the center of a spherical or circular form - for example, a classic chandelier would be a good example of radial balance.
This principle is an important and often controversial element among interior designers. There is a fine line between the striking and the obnoxious, but when applied tastefully, contrast can bring out the best in any space. Colour swatching is your friend here - an effective colour scheme can serve to highlight all the right features of a room.
Just as a musical rhythm will have a sonic beat, the principle of rhythm in interior design is the art of creating visual beats within a space. This can be achieved through repetition of elements such as colour or patterns throughout the space, leading the eye to bounce around the room just like tapping your foot to a beat.
Emphasis is in many ways the antithesis to rhythm though when executed well, they can complement each other beautifully. This principle is what draws your eye to specific features in the space - a flash of colour, a unique art piece or a central piece of furniture - any interior decorating elements that will showcase the individual parts of the room that you are most proud of.
Scale refers to the visual size of elements in the space. Be it art, furnishings or even architectural features such as a divider or staircase. The scale of any given element can drastically change the look and feel of a space and is an important factor to consider. This is closely linked with proportion, which we will discuss next.
This principle is the consideration of the scale of any given object or feature in the space in comparison to those around it. Taking into account the visual weight and dominance of, for example a dining table, the principle of proportion should be tastefully applied when selecting other furnishings and decor in the room.
This principle is self explanatory. Details are the elements of a space that are only noticed upon second or third inspection - the finer points of an artwork or inlay, which items reside on what surfaces and the patterns in the rug or wallpaper. These are the components that give a finishing finesse to the interior area.
Harmony is the elusive art of creating restfulness and poise to the observer, letting them feel at home and comfortable in the space. This principle goes hand in hand with unity, the ninth and final point to be discussed here.
Lastly, the final step on your interior design journey. All the other principles covered here mean nothing if there is no unity between them. Unity refers to a universal cohesion in the space, whatever that looks like for you - whether you’ve got a set colour swatch and strict guidelines or you’re breaking all the rules, a sense of unity will always help bring out the best in your space.