Each interior designer has his or her own personal flavor that gets added to the mix, but when it comes right down to it, there are seven basic principles by which we all operate. Whether you’re thinking about changes to make on your own or would like to brainstorm a few ideas before you meet with your own interior designer (always a great idea), these 7 elements of design can facilitate your interior design process.
7 Elements of Interior Design to Enhance Your Living Spaces
The following principles work together to complement one another while allowing just enough contrast and juxtaposition to create interest and drama.
- Space. The space, of course, is the room, area or building you will be working with. If you’re building a new home, you have the luxury of designing a completely custom space. If you’re working with an existing space, you may have the freedom to change a few things but the basic shape, size and proportion will be taken into consideration when envisioning the whole.
- Light. Light is so instrumental in the design process and is often overlooked by DIY designers. Attractive fixtures are important, but the lighting design begins with the space. How is it oriented? What natural light does it receive throughout the day? What activities take place there (i.e. how do we balance task and mood lighting effectively?) How does the light affect the mood of the space in the morning, mid-day, late-afternoon and after dark? Answering these questions will help you create a more pleasing interior space.
- Form. This is also referred to as proportion. Small rooms typically require a different approach to the following principles than large rooms. You will want to consider the angles and planes in a room. You can echo them to increase this aspect or counterbalance them with softer, rounder furnishings and fixtures. Larger spaces may require larger furniture, art and/or furnishings to avoid a cavernous look or feel while smaller spaces require a different approach to keep the space from being cramped or cluttered. Echoing architectural form with similarly shaped furnishings is another way to think about form.
- Texture. Sometimes a room is decorated beautifully but lacks “a little something”. Often, that something is texture. This is another thing that design newbies can overlook – the importance of balancing hard and soft, smooth and rough. You want to introduce different textures to keep things more visually interesting and layered. A shag area rug on a stained concrete floor, or a wood or stone coffee table in an otherwise plush room, for example. Typically we use rugs, window coverings, upholstery and other textile accents to lend texture although there are many other ways to go about it.
- Color. The colors you select change more than just the “looks” in a space; they are also used to create a specific mood or energy. Is this a room where you want to add vibrant energy or is it a space where you want to invite a more relaxed and restful mood? Again, how you and your family use a space will determine the colors you use to set up the tone.
- Furniture. These last two, furniture and objects, are often the last pieces in the puzzle, although there are certainly situations where a killer furniture piece is the focal point that drives the rest of the room’s design. Your furniture should be chosen primarily for function and aesthetics are an immediate second.
- Objects. Objects are often the most personalized design points but should still be used to tell the rest of the design story in a cohesive way.
In most cases, you’ll find that you have a knack for at least half of these elements but could use a nudge in the right direction when it comes to the others.