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The Basics of Interior Design

Whether you are starting with a single room or wanting to hire a professional interior designer to refresh or redesign your entire home, it is imperative that you understand the absolute basics of interior design. Put simply, design is an orderly arrangement of the five basic elements:

  • Color, the maker of mood and creator of illusion
  • Form, the complete shape of any object
  • Line, the implied boundary or direction of an object
  • Mass, the bulk of an object that occupies space
  • Texture, touch me, feel me

All artists work with these same basic elements to achieve certain effects, all of which must work together to form a unified design.

But these five elements alone aren’t enough to achieve a successful design. The five components of composition are just as important in the context of the project:

  • Focal point: The point of visual reference to which the eye always returns
  • Scale and proportion: Scale refers to size, while proportion relates the size of parts compared to the whole. Keep these two factors in mind when selecting furniture as they have a profound effect on the look and feel of the space.
  • Harmony and unity: Harmony refers to the blending of similar elements, while unity refers to the overall sense of belonging together. This is a goal, so keep it in mind as you add each new piece of furniture or accessory to your space.
  • Contrast: Contrast places opposites side by side, such as hard and soft or black and white. The difficulty is to balance contrast, so as to maintain a sense of unity. Add contrast in small doses; be careful not to overdo it and thus upset a sense of harmony of parts and overall unity.
  • Variety: Variety is the spice of life and the spice of interiors. Include variety within a single room as well as within a whole-house design.

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