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[Interior Design Principles] What You Need to Know

[Interior Design Principles] What You Need to Know
5 min. read
[Interior Design Principles] What You Need to Know

Image: Photographee.eu / Shutterstock.com

There’s a lot more to good interior design than just an eye for decorating. If you’re having trouble replicating a beautiful room you saw online or in a magazine, there may be a reason for that.

The secret to creating a space that feels cohesive and well-thought-out is to follow the seven principles of interior design. These guidelines help designers create interiors that are both beautiful and functional. Each principle is important on its own, but all seven have to work together to create a truly successful design.

1.   Balance

In interior design, balance refers to a room that appears to have an equal distribution of “visual weight” throughout the space. Pieces that are colorful, dark, large or dense will have more visual weight than objects that are light in color, small, slim or open.

There are three ways to achieve balance when planning an interior space:

  1. Symmetrical balance occurs when both sides of a central line are equally balanced with identical or similar objects. Matching end tables on either side of a bed are an example of symmetrical balance.
  2. In an asymmetrical balance, the objects on both sides of the axis are different, but still appear to have a similar visual weight. Asymmetrical balance can be harder to produce, but it creates the most visually pleasing layout because the balance feels more natural.
  3. Radial balance involves forming circular symmetry around a central object such as a coffee table or dining table.

To create a balanced space, divide the room into four equal quadrants. Adjust the layout until each quadrant feels as though it contains the same volume of furniture and objects.

[Interior Design Principles] What You Need to Know - Balance

Image: Photographee.eu / Shutterstock.com

2.   Rhythm

Just like in music, rhythm in interior design is generated through repetition. Rhythm creates a good flow with the use of repeating colors, patterns, finishes, materials or shapes. This repetition helps draw the eye around the room and create a feeling of movement.

To create rhythm in your own home, choose a color, finish or textile. Then, repeat it at least three times in a room. To create rhythm throughout the entire house, carry the repeated element to each room; this will help create a visual connection between the spaces.

[Interior Design Principles] What You Need to Know - Rhythm

Image: Photographee.eu / Shutterstock.com

3.   Emphasis

A room without a focal point lacks focus and doesn’t give the eye anywhere to land. To correct this issue, it’s important to establish a prominent feature that acts as the anchor of the room. Architectural features, such as a fireplace or picture window, are popular focal points. In rooms without any remarkable architectural features, create a focal point with a piece of art or furniture.

Position the furniture in the room to naturally draw attention to the focal point. Lighting and strategic use of color can also help emphasize a focal point.

[Interior Design Principles] What You Need to Know - Emphasis

Image: Photographee.eu / Shutterstock.com

4. Contrast & Variety

Adding contrast and variety to interiors creates visual interest. Contrast is used to create drama, while variety adds character and diversity. Both of these principles are important to good design, but don’t overdo it; too much contrast diminishes the effect, and without some consistency, a space can feel disconnected.

Achieve contrast by placing items of different colors, shapes or sizes close together. To add variety, use a mixture of different textures, materials, and finishes, along with distinctive pieces of furniture.

[Interior Design Principles] What You Need to Know - Contrast and Variety

Image: Photographee.eu / Shutterstock.com

5. Scale & Proportion

Scale refers to the size of objects in relation to the room they’re in. Proportion looks at the size of objects in relation to one another. In interior design, these principles help ensure that furnishings are the right size for the room and that they fit well together.

Imagine a small chair paired with an oversized ottoman. The result would seem off-balance, and the pieces wouldn’t feel like they belong together.

[Interior Design Principles] What You Need to Know - Scale and Proportion

Image: Photographee.eu / Shutterstock.com

6.  Unity & Harmony

Unity and harmony work together to create a cohesive design where nothing feels out of place. Harmony occurs when objects of like characteristics are used to tie a space together. Pieces that clash or don’t match can interfere with the harmony of a space.

To create a sense of unity in your home, choose a design style and let this overall theme guide your choices.

[Interior Design Principles] What You Need to Know - Unity and Harmony

Image: Photographee.eu / Shutterstock.com

7. Details

Details are what take a design from ordinary to outstanding. From the stitching on a sofa to the fringe on a pillow to the carving on a table, details are the extra touches that make an item stand out and bring a design to life.

[Interior Design Principles] What You Need to Know - Details

Image: Photographee.eu / Shutterstock.com

Try incorporating these principles into your designs. Soon, you’ll be able to create a home with good flow and balance, and visitors will comment on how well it’s put together!

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