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Seven Elements of Interior Design

We have all been faced with the frustrations of interior design – whether you decide you want to go in a new direction using existing furnishings, or whether you are starting with a blank slate in a new home. It may seem daunting, but it is really not that complicated. When you break the interior design down to its basic components – just for you, we hope that the process becomes much easier with our guide.

Along with the seven principles of interior design, there are seven elements that comprise the tangibles of a visually pleasing room. If you use these design elements as a guide for decorating your home, the results will be nothing short of spectacular!

Space is a simple element to understand. Space speaks to the physical boundaries of a room. Typically you do not determine the dimensions of a room, you must find a way to use existing space to your advantage. Space gives you limits of how much you can place in a room. If your room is small, don’t overcrowd it with furniture and accessories. If your room is large, don’t skimp on furnishings.

If you have decorated a room, you understand the importance of texture. Everything from fabrics and furniture to decorative accessories brings different textures into space. The element of texture is defined as “the feel, appearance, or consistency of a surface.” It can refer to rough or smooth finishes, glossy or dull surfaces and soft or coarse textiles. Texture can be used to enhance a room’s features or provide added dimension. In a small, dark room, furnishings with smooth, shiny finishes will impart a reflective quality and give the space a sense of natural light. Conversely, in a bright, large room, rough textures will help balance the excess of natural light.

The element of light can refer to natural or man-made sources. Light goes hand in hand with texture. It is also closely associated with colour. Without a light source, colour does not exist. Light sets the mood in a room. Subdued lighting imparts a cosy, romantic feel. Rooms bathed in natural light feel airy and cheerful. Light also plays a functional role in interior design. It is used to illuminate work and reading areas. Light is also employed to emphasise certain objects in a room, such as pieces of art.

Colours can literally transform a home. A dark, depressing space becomes bright and cheerful by adding bright or light colours. Colour can also create specific moods and looks. Using cool and neutral colours convey peace and tranquillity. Rich jewel tones make a drab space luxurious and regal. Incorporating reds, oranges and yellows into a sterile, white room add a sense of warmth.

The element of pattern works in conjunction with colours. It is used in interior design to add life and interest to the furnishings in a room. It works like texture to provide interest to surfaces. Patterns are created by using repetitive designs in fabrics, rugs, paint techniques and wallpaper. Just think how dull a room would be without any patterns!

When discussing line as it applies to interior design, we mean the lines created by the furnishings and architecture of a room. Line sets form and shape. Lines are responsible for harmony, contrast and unity in interior design. This design element signifies movement and guides the eye throughout a room. A line encompasses both curved and straight planes.

Horizontal lines are most often found in furnitures such as tables, chair backs, bookshelves and media centres. Lines play an important role in interior design by balancing vertical lines in a space. Look around your house for examples of vertical lines. They’re everywhere. Windows, curtains, doorways, columns and tall furniture pieces all add to the illusion of height in your home.