Featured at OwnHomeStyle.com
By Lisa M Smith
All of these basic principles are used every day by designers all over the world. They are all necessary and often interdependent on each other. When a room fails one or more of these concepts is at fault. Often we can walk into a room, even one we have never been in before and notice that something feels off. This can be a subconscious reaction or very obvious. If you were to use these basic principles as a template for the room, you would easily uncover the problem.
The basic interior design principles are the “tricks” all of us successful designers function with. The careful study and understanding of balance, scale, proportion, rhythm and emphasis is what makes it easy for us to walk into a room and often immediately fix a problem. It is not about taste or personality that creates good design. It is the appropriate application of these design principles.
Balance is a fundamental of life that everyone seeks, consciously or subconsciously, whether in your checkbook, relationships or home. This makes us comfortable, gives us stability, reduces stress and gives us peace. This is the most important element to achieve when creating or changing the design of a room.
For interiors balance takes into account the physical and/or psychological weight of an object. Balance is important in all facets of room design from the physical architecture to the furnishings, materials selected, and accessorizing.
There are different types of balance:
• Formal or symmetrical – This is very traditional and quiet. The focal point is often in the center. One side is the mirror image of the other. An example would be two sofas on either side of a fireplace facing one another with a large coffee table in the middle.
• Informal or asymmetrical – This is much more active but also more subtle. The focal point may not be in the middle. There is no mirror effect but the visual weights play a more important role. It could be as simple as having two completely different chairs sitting across from one sofa in the previous example.
• Radial – All elements radiate around, toward or from a focal point. There is a lot of repetition in form and color.
Scale and Proportion
Both of these relate to the size and shape of an object.
• Scale deals with the absolute size or character of an object or space when compared to other objects or spaces.
• Proportion is relative describing the ratio of one part to another.
• How objects relate to one another develops rhythm. This works the same way in a home as it does in a piece of music. Rhythm creates interest. It can make an area come alive. Repetition and contrast are key elements to use. A modern example of this would be a room that is mostly one color (monochromatic) and feels very harmonious and comfortable. This is achieved by using different textures and materials of this one color. The mix of textures (contrast) combined with the repetition of color provides rhythm.
• Certain areas or elements of a room need to be dominant or emphasized. Variety will keep an area from being monotonous and dull. The best analogy for this would be a movie. In a movie there are stars, supporting cast members and general cast members. All parts contribute to make a whole and all important to the telling of the story though some are more important / have bigger roles (emphasis) than the others. It doesn’t work if the movie is comprised of all stars, you don’t know who to watch or who is more important.
• A great way to handle this design concept is to make sure everything in your room isn’t a star or your “favorite”. Good design will be achieved when you realize you don’t have to “love” every item or element in your room. Every element has an order of importance, though all are necessary.
• You will achieve this through balancing color, placement, and proportion of items and materials you select.
• Contrasting color is one way to add emphasis to an element. To make a beautiful antique carved fireplace in a deep walnut color the focal point you would want to use a surrounding wall color that would show this off. You wouldn’t want to use a color in a similar hue or saturation because the fireplace would blend into the wall and would become its equal. For the opposite effect, if you had a really ugly nondescript fireplace you may want to make it the same color as the surrounding walls so it seems to go away.
These interior design principles are applicable in every situation regardless of home style. As you may notice none of these have anything to do with taste or money. Good interior design is the clever use and application of these design basics and can be achieved by anyone.
About the Author
Lisa M. Smith is an interior designer and owner of Interior Design Factory, Ltd. She specializes in creating beautiful and inviting residential interiors that are timeless and look collected, not like a showroom. Real design for real people. She produces individualized results using creative solutions that are liveable and tell a story. Good design is for everyone and available in every budget.
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