Interior Design Basics: Elements and Principles

Interior Design Basics: Elements and Principles

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Published by TOP4 Team

How often do you walk into a space and feel instantly at home, or conversely, feel uncomfortable and can’t wait to leave? Here are some fundamental interior design rules to observe.

Plan the spaces carefully to ensure your home is both comfortable and practical. Create scaled floor plans that include furniture layout, position of windows and doors, joinery, power, outlets, seating arrangements and placement of other exact dimensions of selected furniture and furnishings (ideal) or approximate dimensions for future choices.

Focal point
A well-designed space has one or more focal points. This must be obvious enough to draw in the eye and create a lasting impression, and it must also relate to the overall scheme linked by the colour, style, scale or the project’s theme. A focal point is often a fireplace or a TV in a living room, but can also be a window with a view, staircase, artwork, piece of furniture, painting or contrasting colour in one area. It’s important to allow the focal point to be part of (but not dominate) the scheme.

Scale and proportion
These two design principles go hand in hand since both relate to size and shape. Scale relates to the size of one object compared to another. Proportion relates to the ratio of one design element to the whole, to create a sense of coherence and harmony between them.

Balance refers to the distribution of visual weight in a room. There are three types of balance in design:
- Symmetrical: Most often found in traditional or formal interiors and is characterized by the same or similar objects being placed in the same positions on either side of a vertical axis, such as two identical side tables and lamps either side of a bed or sofa
- Asymmetrical: Achieved with an odd number of and/or mismatched elements, tends to be used in contemporary interiors and is not always easy to achieve
- Radial: When all the elements of a design are arranged around a centre point such as a spiral staircase, circular rug, circular sofa or round dining table and chairs.

Texture is not seen as a design element, however, it has the ability to add dimensions to a space. It can be found in furniture, furnishings and finishes, and adds a tactile component.

Rhythm is all about visual repetition and flow such as colour, pattern and texture. To achieve these themes in a design, you need to think about repetition, progression, transition and contrast. Using these elements will create a sense of movement to your space, leading the eye from one design element to another with ease.

Colours have definite impact on the atmosphere you want to create. Everyone reacts differently to colour and it’s important to choose one you really love, but do be careful and when in doubt, bring in a colour expert.

If you’re considering to have your home undergo makeover, consult one of the top renovation services.


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