A Break Down of Interior Design Basics

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When it comes to creating your perfect home, it is important to know the difference between design and decoration. Interior decoration speaks for itself; it is the furnishing and decoration of a designed space, while interior design is an artform. It delves into the science of people's behaviours and aims to understand and create functionality within the space in question. Both are creative and artistic in their own right, but in this case we will focus on the key aspects to consider when designing an interior. 

Let us break down these fundamentals for you and detail everything you'll need to know to help you start designing your dream home! 


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Space is probably the most important factor when it comes to interior design because before doing anything else, the designer needs to understand and be able to utilise the space that is available to them. The majority of the time (unless very lucky) the designer is unable to change the available space, meaning the constructed area they are working with is what they get. 

Space is divided into two different categories: Positive Space and Negative Space.Positive space is taken up with the things in the space such as furniture and artwork, while negative space is the emptiness around everything which usually highlights the “stuff” in the positive space. The designer uses these concepts and either fills a space or leaves it empty, depending on the project goal. 

In order to give a room an open feel, you would make use ofNegative Space. Be careful though as too much will be unwelcoming and imposing; leaving the area empty and cold. WithPositive Space, using it allows focus. Fill it with furniture, art or lighting and you have a moreactive, dynamic, and motivating area. 

It is important to create a sense of balance and rhythm between both. As one of the basic principles of design, balance refers to how well all of the elements work together with one another in harmony. Too much positive space and your room is overcrowded and clumsy but too negative and you create sparsity.


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As mentioned, a designer's job is to understand human behaviour and use this understanding to shape a room. The use of lines in design helps our brain perceive the all important space of any interior. Lines are broken down into three types: Horizontal, Vertical and Dynamic. The designer will utilise these in order to catch the eye by using the rooms structure and furnishings. 

Horizontal lines are used more oftenly to create a sense of peace and stability. Designers use these with furnishings such as tables and surfaces in order to create the illusion of more length and width in a room — they do this by drawing on one or more focal points. While the use of horizontal lines can be a great asset, too much and you risk the room becoming dull and uncreative. 

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Designers usevertical linesto lure the eyes upward and, like horizontal lines making a room seem bigger, vertical lines help with height. Architectural details like original woodwork, beams, or even interesting lighting fixtures can all be accentuated by the use of vertical lines. They can create a sense of freedom but overuse may cause the opposite and create uncomfortableness. 

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Dynamic lines such as angles and curves that are found in stairs or in circle shaped furniture keep a space interesting and moving. They provide a stimulant and are a great contrast for horizontal or vertical lines, which can become too boring and plain. Angles give a space energy while curves are softer and often associated with femininity. It's best to keep a balance, though, if you want your home to be neutral! And as always, too much is a bad thing; you could risk the space being distracting and overwhelming. 

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Form refers to not only the shape of a room, but the lines and objects within. By definition, lines and objects create a shape and therefore give birth to form; usually described as either natural or geometric.

Natural forms are ones that have an element of nature to them whilst geometric forms often appear to be man-made. Forms can also be either open or closed — looked into or covered by a surface. Think of a vase for an open form and a solid cabinet for a closed form. 

Form gives depth to a room so it's important to remember scale. Using too many forms of similar shapes can be chaotic so it is important to keep the balance in order to create harmony — it is very aesthetically pleasing to have forms that compliment one another. For example, using a bookshelf with sculptures or curved ornaments offsets the rigid lines of the wood and books, it also helps to maintain a balance.


Colour is a very important aspect when it comes to design so it is equally important that the designer understands this element. It is not just a simple choice of choosing a colour palette, colours must work in tandem in order to create unity and set the mood of the space. On this aspect, designers usually work with the client to create and achieve the desired outcome. 

There is a specific science to colours based in psychology, which the designer needs to be aware of. It is a form of visual stimuli and can evoke both a physical and psychological response. For instance, red is a popular choice in kitchens as it can represent hunger; greens create a calming effect and are therefore more suited to living spaces, and whites create brightness and a cleanly feeling which is why they are popular in bathrooms and even hospitals. 

More on the topic: Colors To Use For A Relaxing Interior 

Designers must take all of this into account when discussing colours and find the right choice for different spaces and what works best for those spaces. Brighter colours can be used in smaller areas to create the visual illusion of space, whereas darker colours can add a strong dimension to larger spaces with natural tones of brown or green invoking senses of comfort. Again, finding the correct balance is important and creating a colour palette that flows throughout the home will aid in creating that sense of unity that is needed.


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Patterns are a great way to add life into any interior and work great with colours. They are created using repetition and are not only used on walls but can be found in furnishings like wooden cabinets or architectural elements, curtains and window drapes, or even in fabrics and pillows. Using patterns not only creates an interesting dynamic but it is a great way to show off personality and style. Geometric patterns can be experimented with for a more modern touch whilst florals work great to give the space a more rustic and traditional feel. 

Like all of the fundamentals of design, it is important to understand how to use patterns. Too much in a small room and it may become overwhelming but used in a large space they can become focal points. The use of a pattern on a feature wall is a great way to incorporate this element and liven up a space while simultaneously not suffocating the rest of the design work in the room.


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Simply put, texture is how something feels. Designers have to remember though that it's not just how texture feels to the touch but there is a visual element at play, too, which is why texture is split into two: visual and actual. Although often skipped, balancing both can help a designer bring great depth to a room. Texture can be implemented in multiple ways, from furniture to fabric, and adds something unique to any space. 

Visual textureis self-explanatory in that it is what we perceive through sight. This aspect of texture works well with patterns and when used together they are very pleasing to the eye.Actual textureincorporates both and exists in the three-dimensional space. Think of how a leather sofa is both visually smooth but also smooth to the touch; a shaggy rug not only gives the impression of softness or coarseness, but this sensation can be felt by running your hand across it, too. 

Texture adds an interesting touch and should be considered carefully when adding it to a room.


Light is an extremely important element in interior design as it essentially sets the mood. There are two main types of lighting: natural and artificial, and it is important to understand these before implementing them. Light highlights every element of design, especially colour, so it is vital that it is used correctly.  

Natural lighting is great at showing off paintwork or wallpaper. A designer can utilise windows and doorways to pour in natural light and can also manipulate it through curtains and shades to create any desired effect. Living areas tend to need a softer touch so this manipulation works great in creating a calming ambience in the room. 

If natural lighting isn't reliable enough or efficient, artificial lighting can come into play and actually works better in certain aspects. Accent lighting can be utilised to draw attention to a key point of your home or room, such as artwork or sculptures. While task lighting works exactly as it says, aiding in the completion of tasks. Artificial task lighting is preferred in places such as the kitchen or offices as it helps with clarity. Whilst being functional, lighting is important in the creation of ambience and atmosphere. Used correctly it enhances all of the design fundamentals and feel of the overall space. 

The combination of a few or all of these factors results in exceptional interior design. Finding a balance with every element and making them work with one another in unity and harmony allows for the transformation of virtually any space, basic or otherwise, into something magnificent. By using these fundamentals correctly, you can create top-notch design for yourself and potentially for others!

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