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There is more to good design than meets the eye. Behind every home inspiration image that you pin for your dream home are design professionals who have studied and mastered not just the creative arts but also the principles of interior design. The fundamentals of interior design guide every step of the building process – whether it’s the big-picture decisions, such as the placement on windows and doors in a room, or the selection of smaller, decorative elements, like curtains or door knobs. Afterall, a well-designed room is one where everything is in its right place and there is an overall sense of ease, comfort and cohesiveness. We’ve put together a cheat sheet on some of the most basic concepts of interior design.
The five basic concepts of interior design are Balance, Harmony, Rhythm, Proportion and Scale and Focal Point.
When you start to think of any space as a blank canvas, you can apply the most basic concepts of all art and design to interior design as well. It all starts with balance – balance is all about the placement of every element in the room that defines the success of the overall design. Effective design is all about making a conscious effort to balance the visual weight of all the elements in the room so the overall design can build and sustain attractiveness and interest in the room.
Balance in design is similar to balance in everything else in life. Just take the example of a seesaw and how it requires the two people of same weight on both sides to be fun, safe and
Image courtesy, ADND
well-balanced. Similarly in interior design, everything is an effort to balance the visual weight of all the elements in the room. Balance as an interior design concept can be applied to all the physical objects like furniture, lighting and décor accents as well as balance of colours, textures and patterns that are used in the room.
As an interior design concept, there are 3 different kinds of balance that are used to design a space:
Symmetrical or formal balance is the most conventional and most frequently used kind of balance in interior design. Symmetrical balance is when objects are evenly distributed or repeated while taking the same axis into account – think of it as dividing the room into two sides and then balancing everything on both sides evenly. For example, two sofas of the same size and shape in the same position, mirrored on either side of a living room. It may be conservative but it is still the most popular way to design a space, although, too much symmetrical balance however can start to overwhelm the space, feel rigid or even boring.
Asymmetrical balance is an informal and more modern approach in interior design. Rather than using identical objects and design to balance the room, the asymmetrical approach is all about balancing the visual weight of objects that are similar in size, shape and dimensions. For example, placing two statement chairs or loungers across the room from a three-seater sofa, perhaps with a coffee table between them.
Radial balance is a lot more complicated and it’s more common in larger spaces. Objects are balanced in a circular formation with one focal element such as a round chandelier or a circular dining table in the centre of the room with everything else in the room radiating from this perceived centre.
Image courtesy, Essentia Environments
Harmony or unity as an interior design concept is a big-picture approach to the design process. It’s when you consider a space, such as a full room or an apartment as a one big whole rahter than isolated structures. It is the overall unity between all the elements that make up a space – it could be in terms of the style, the theme, the aesthetic, the mood and even the personality of a space.
A colour scheme that binds all the objects in the room is a great way to understand the concept of harmony. For instance, not everything in the room needs to be of the exact same shade of the main colour or colours used. Think of it this way – a similar colour palette or colour scheme that compliments the main colour or
colours of the room can be used for everything from the bones of the space like flooring, wall paint and more to the décor accents, furniture and more.
Just as in music, there is no harmony without rhythm in the interior design process. Rhythm is all about creating visual interest that guides your eyes across a room. Rhythm has more to do with the shapes, colours, patterns and textures of all the elements that make up a room. Rhythm as an interior design concept can include progression, repetition, transition and contrast of all these elements.
Progression is when you increase or decrease the number of items in a particular area – like a collection of candles or throw pillows used to decorate a living room.
Repetitionis when certain elements are placed in recuring manner – such as a colour scheme that is used across all the rooms of a house.
Transition is a great way to achieve balance and harmony in interior design – it is used to guide the natural movement of the eyes across the room. An arched doorway opening up a room is a good example of transition.
Contrast in interior design is all about placing oposing elements
Image courtesy, Jason Briscoe/ unsplash
together to generate visuall interest – like colour blocking in design.
Image courtesy, Design Deconstruct
As an interior design concept, scale and proportion is not just about how all the different elements of a space relate to one another but also how they relate to the human scale. Whether it’s in art – like Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man – or in interior design – Le Corbusier’s Modulor, an anthropometric scale of proportions – there has always been a need to define and establish ideal proportions. But while these sort of rules can form guidelines to good design, it is the eye and judgement of the designer that actually leads the building and decorating process. That’s why, you’ll always find an interior designer with a measuring tape!
Proportion is the ratio between the size of one part to another while scale is how the size of one object relates to another. For example, if a piece of furniture or décor object is too large or too small, it looks out of place in a room.
If you’ve ever walked into a room and found yourself eyeing that one element that stands out and holds your attention – well, that’s the focal point. This interior concept is all about the use of an eye-catching element that can anchor a space and leave a lasting impression. For example, a striking piece of art in the living room or a four-poster bed in the bedroom. That particular artwork or bed can guide and inspire everything else in the room too. Other focal points in interior design can include the use of a statement or accent wall colour or wallpaper; a designer piece of furniture, like an abstract chair or table; or even a built-in point of interest such as a fire place or window.
Image courtesy, Asian Paints
Now that you’re up to speed with the basic concepts of interior design, you can use them to look at those interior design references with a fresh eye and see how you can adapt those favourite inspirations in your own home renovation and redecorating projects.
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