Five Steps to Successful Room Design: The Basics of Interior Design

A living room incorporating the basics of interior design, including large windows and a fireplace.

Have you ever looked through a decorating magazine and noticed how the rooms just seem to work?  These rooms stand out in all their well-designed glory and you aspire to have rooms just like those in the magazines.  There are basic principles involved when designing a space that make a certain room work functionally and aesthetically.  To really understand how a room works, you need to go back to the basics of interior design.  The basic principles of design are balance, rhythm, harmony, focal point and scale.

A living room showcasing the basics of interior design with a gray couch and coffee table.
Exceptional room design (ericahouseofdesign.blogspot)
An ornate living room showcasing the basics of interior design with a chandelier.
Beautifully design traditional room (3)
A living room showcasing the basics of interior design with blue curtains and a yellow ottoman.
An interior that applies the basics (tarafree.BlogSpot)

 

Here is a selection of well-designed rooms that employ all of the basics of interior design.  Look closely and see how the principles of balance, rhythm, harmony, focal point and scale are employed in these rooms as you learn about each.

A living room with basic interior design featuring a ceiling fan and sliding glass doors.
A sleek modern space (Houzz)
A simple living room with a piano showcasing basics of interior design.
A harmonious room design (northsidedecoratingdean)
A modern living room with a fireplace featuring the basics of interior design.
Well-designed room (claffisica)

Balance refers to how visual weight is distributed in a room.  Balance can be achieved three ways:  symmetrical, asymmetrical or radial.  Symmetrical balance is when each side is exactly equal, which is often employed in traditional design.  Asymmetrical balance is achieved by placing one large piece against several smaller pieces.  Radial balance is when all items are arranged around a center point.

A living room with blue and beige furniture showcasing the basics of interior design.
An example of symmetrical design (Houzz)
A living room with a rug on the floor, showcasing the basics of interior design.
An example of asymmetrical design (decorismo)
A living room with a fireplace and a view of the ocean, showcasing the basics of interior design.
An example of radial balance (humblepedigree)
A living room with red chairs and a fireplace showcasing the basics of interior design.
Symmetrical and radial balance in this living area (castlery)

Rhythm is the repetition or contrast of patterns throughout a space.  Colors, shapes or patterns should be repeated at least once in a room.  This allows for a smooth flow throughout a room or connecting spaces in the home.  Placing two contrasting items in a room creates interest as well as a sense of rhythm.

A living room with a yellow couch and white coffee table showcasing the basics of interior design.
Repetition in the circle shape and yellow (adesignersworld.blogspot)
A white couch in a minimalist living room.
Repetition of color (onekindesign)
A living room incorporating the basics of interior design featuring purple accents and a fireplace.
A well-designed interior where purple is used in repetition (Pinterest)
A living room showcasing the basics of interior design with blue walls and red furniture.
Repetition of pattern and color pull this room together (Tobi Fairley Interior Design)

Harmony refers to how all of the elements in a design work together and is especially important in today’s open concept home.  Color schemes are a great example of harmony.  The use of color throughout a room or home should flow well.  Harmony is the story that your home tells as you go from room to room.

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A dining room with the basics of interior design.
Harmony in design is important with open concept homes (room-decorating-ideas)
A formal dining room with blue chairs and a staircase featuring the basics of interior design.
Color creates a smooth flow between rooms (jenniferbrouwerdesign)
A living room with a large window showcasing the basics of interior design.
This room creates nice harmony with balance and repeated color (terrysfabric.co.uk)
A living room with couches and a fireplace, demonstrating the basics of interior design.
Design that illustrates smooth flow (imgarcade)

A focal point is a spot in the room where the eye rests.  It is the one area or item in a room to which your attention is drawn when entering.  The focal point can be a fireplace, artwork, a unique piece of furniture or the view.  Every room should have a focal point.

A living room with large windows and a coffee table showcasing the basics of interior design.
The view is the focal point of this room (galleryhip)
A living room with well-chosen furniture and a cozy fireplace, incorporating the basics of interior design.
The fireplace is the focal point of this room (Houzz)
A living room with a fireplace, highlighting the basics of interior design.
The fireplace makes a great focal point in this room (lerablog)

Scale and proportion are important to make a room design work well.  Furnishings and accessories should be in proportion to one another.  In other words, a large sofa should be paired with chairs and tables that are the same or close to the same size.

A living room with large windows and a chandelier showcasing the basics of interior design.
Larger furnishings work in this room due to its size and high ceilings (Robeson Design, San Diego, CA)
A living room with a fireplace and red chairs showcasing the basics of interior design.
Furniture balances out in proportion (Refined LLC designers)
A basic living room with a table and chairs.
Successful scale in this living area (Sara Gilbane Interiors)

Using the basics of interior design as a guide when conquering home decorating projects will ensure success and get you closer to the rooms featured in the glossy pages of a magazine.  Balance, rhythm, harmony, focal point and scale can help bring your dream interiors to reality.

 

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