Interior design basic concepts and principles

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Interior design is a rewarding profession, and it is often chosen by those with  an innate passion for beautifying things and a keen sense of aesthetics. Thousands of aspirants opt for courses in interior design worldwide and there are hundreds of institutes and universities offering diverse courses on the subject. Before seeking a career in this realm- it is better that you learn the basic theories and principles of interior design.

The core elements of interior design

Listed below are the chief elements of interior design:

● Space

Space is a vital element in interior design and it acts as the foundation on which the design plan is made. Here both 2D and 3D space are taken into  the analysis. While designing, the professionals have to maintain the balance between empty space and space filled with items/furnishing etc.


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● Line

Line is what gives birth to shapes and forms. Lines serve as a visual guide in any living space. There are three types-  Dynamic, Horizontal, Vertical lines. Horizontal and vertical lines are found on furnishing and accessories used in living spaces. Dynamic or angular lines are used to add an element of drama. The interior designers use these lines to create the desired output in various projects.

● Forms

Forms denote outline of three-dimensional objects. Forms are made by mixing two or more types of shapes. Forms are segregated into two variants- Geometric or  man-made forms and organic or natural forms. These can be open or closed.

● Light

Light plays a pivotal role in   the success of any interior design project. Light can be natural or artificial in nature. However, without light other design elements like colour an d texture has no significance! Proper lighting in a living space sets the mood and ambience.    Mood Lighting, Accent Lighting and task lighting. Task lighting is used to accomplish specific tasks such as table lamps. Accent lights are used to highlight specific items like artwork or sculptures. Mood/ ambient lighting is used to create specific ambience in living spaces


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● Colour

Designers have to be careful when choosing colours for any project. The combination of  colours  is especially important-whether it is for flooring or walls. It is a fact that specific colours evoke different feelings and emotions in the human mind. Bedrooms are typically panted with pastel shades and light hues but the same is not true about dining space .

● Textures

Textures are relevant for surfaces in living spaces. Usage of texture adds depth to the area and enhances aesthetic appeal. There are two types- Visual and actual texture. The former is only used for aesthetic purposes while in the case of the latter, you can feel it.

● Pattern

Patterns make the design more enticing and they are used with colours for that purpose. Patterns may have diverse shapes and they usually have  attractive, repetitive designs. They are used on wall paints, beddings and decorative surfaces in living space.

The core principles of interior design

The principles of interior design define how the core elements should be used. These are:

● Unity

As evident from the name, the principles of Unity stresses on maintaining a sense of harmony or uniformity among all the elements used. Lack of unity leads to a confusing design. Understanding of spacing, Alignment of objects, a grouping of elements helps the designers achieve unity in design


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● Balance

The principle of balance is used to distribute the elements of any design in an organised manner.  Balance is achieved when the visual weight of the core design elements is distributed evenly using a central axis. Shape, colours, texture and even lighting are used to achieve balance in design.



● Rhythm

The principle of Rhythm denotes a connected movement that exists between various design elements. Elements placed in an orderly manner with spaces between them kept proportional create a sense of rhythm. Design rhythm can be created in the living space, by three methods- Progression, Repetition, Alternation. Same colour, texture and shape can be used in progression or alteration to establish a rhythm in living space .

● Emphasis

It is used to grab the attention of viewers to an object which can be a piece of art or furniture. The focal point is the center of emphasis and it overshadows  the rest of the décor. It can be a dining table in dining space or a sculpture in a passage, for example. It should be positioned in stark contrast to the adjacent and surrounding elements.



● Contrast

Contrast helps the overall design to look enticing. The designers use space, colour and form to define contrast in living space. Beddings, walls and furniture all can be used to achieve the effect. However, colours are  used the most in this regard.

● Scale and Proportion

Right usage of scale and proportion ensures the stuff placed in  the rooms do not look out of place. In size, shape and colour- a harmony should exist. A large sofa set should not be laden with under stuffed pillows-for example. Similarly, a room with high ceiling should be decorated with tall furniture and not low rise stuff .

● Details

Details are like icing on the cake- things that seem trivial, but they help make the picture look complete! Examples include small, intricate embroideries on the bed cover and pillow covers. The details are added at the last stage of the design.


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