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The principles of interior design
Helpful thoughts — whether doing it yourself or working with an interior designer

by Christine Anderssen
|When creating interior design for an entire home look for a common style and theme to run throughout.
Scientifically, one can break interior design down into a few principles. Be aware these are not rules, they are principles to use as fundamental underpinnings for a feeling, flair or intuition to interior design. These principles of interior design should guide you when you start either doing it yourself, or discussing your ideas with your interior designer.

When creating interior design it is necessary to think of the house as a totality; a series of spaces linked together by halls and stairways. It is therefore appropriate that a common style and theme run throughout. This is not to say that all interior design elements should be the same, but they should work together and compliment each other in a way that strengthens the whole composition. A way to create this theme or storyline is with a carefully considered palette of color.

Focal point
Interior design's biggest enemy is boredom. A well-designed room always has, depending on the size of it, one or more focal points. A focal point must be dominant enough to draw attention and interesting enough to encourage the viewer to look further. A focal point must leave a lasting impression, but must also be an integral part of the decoration. It can be linked through scale, style, color or theme.

Balance can be described as the equal distribution of visual weight in a room. The simplest, and most formal type of balance is symmetrical balance, where the same objects are repeated in the same positions on either side of a vertical axis, such as one would find in old fashioned state or gala rooms. Asymmetrical balance is more appropriate in design today. Balance is achieved with some dissimilar objects that have equal visual weight or eye attraction. Assymetrical balance is more casual and less contrived in feeling, but more difficult to achieve.

Proportion refers to the relative size of objects measured against the size of the room or other norm or standard. This design principle is of extreme importance when decorating a room.

In musical terms we would describe rhythm as pattern of sounds within the music. In interior design, rhythm is all about visual pattern repetition. Visual rhythm is based on movement. As in music, rhythm in design can also be staccato (abrupt and dynamic) or legato (connecting and flowing).

Color is an element that tends to inspire emotion and has a dramatic influence on a home or space when viewed as a whole. Therefore, it is essential color choices are made with much care.

Another important element of interior design is detail. Everything from the trimming on the lamp shade and the color of the piping on the scatter cushion to the light switches and cupboard handles need attention. Unlike choosing colors, people often find detail work boring. As a result, it gets neglected. As color expresses the whole spirit and life of a scheme, details underpin the choices within the interior design. Details should not be obvious, but they should enhance and compliment the overall feel of a room.

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