EDITION: February - April 2022

The Seven Basics of Interior Design

By Jerome Allen
Designing interiors is the art of creating an environment that reflects the personalities and tastes of its occupants, in a way that is both tasteful and functional. Making this happen takes much more than just the clever positioning of pretty things. A good design is focused on how to enhance the way that people will experience living in the designed space. Contemporary interior designers have evolved seven core principles to guide them in accomplishing their goal of creating spaces that are graceful, comfortable and timeless. 

Colour: Colour is more than just an aesthetic choice as it can also influence the entire mood and feeling of a room. Different colours inspire different feelings. For instance, green suggests tranquillity and peace, while red is more intense, and purple has a regal feeling. So it is important for designers to think about the type of energy they want to create before deciding on a colour scheme.

Light: Quality lighting is an important element of any interior design. It is not only essential for comfort and efficiency, but it also helps to set the mood. Natural light can bring feelings of warmth and happiness, while harsh fluorescent lighting makes a room feel cold and business-like. Other factors to take into account when choosing lighting include the colour of the light (cool blue or warm yellow), the intensity (bright for cooking or soft for reading), and whether the light should be dimmable.

Form/Shapes: Form refers to the shapes and contours of furniture, sculptures, and even whole rooms. Shapes can either be geometric (angular) or natural (curved). They can also be open or closed. An experienced interior designer can mix and match forms to help achieve the ambiance that you want in your home, whether that be earthy, modern, warm, cool or whatever else you desire.

Line: There are three types of lines that can be integrated into a design: horizontal, vertical and dynamic. Vertical lines make spaces feel open and airy. Horizontal lines give a more tranquil and settled ambiance to a room. They ground the space and make it feel wider and more expansive. Dynamic lines can bring the feeling of more energy.

Pattern: A pattern is the intentional repetition of forms, lines, or other design elements. Patterns are often used on wallpaper or fabrics, but can appear anywhere in the home. A clever designer can use them in a variety of ways: in the grain of wood, the choice of drapes, the colour of pillows or wherever their imagination takes them. Incorporating patterns into your home presents an endless array of options. 

Texture: There are two types of textures - actual and visual. A designer can use either or both to create the effect that they want to express. Actual texture is how a material truly feels, like the way silk feels smooth, whereas linen can be crisp and rough. Visual texture is how something appears to feel when you look at it. For example, wallpaper that looks like a stone wall can give a room the rustic illusion of stone. A more subtle example is a surface that appears to be “weathered” or “vintage” thanks to the creative use of texture.

Space: A designer considers two basic types of space: 2D space (the length and width of a room), and 3D space (which includes height). Empty space that creates an open feeling is called “negative space”. Areas that are filled with decor, such as a living room couch, dining table or the kitchen island are called “positive space”. It is important to leave enough empty or negative space to allow for fluid, easy navigation, and to break the room up visually. An extreme example is the open concept style of home, where the walls are removed giving the illusion that the space is much larger. 

A professional interior design is always based on some combination of these seven factors. Knowing how to mix, match, and balance them effectively is the key to transforming your home into something beyond what you could have imagined.