Elements of Interior Design

The problem with Interior Design is that a lot many people confuse it with Interior Decoration. While the former refers to designing an entire living space from scratch, the latter refers to decorating an existent living space with added furniture and upholstery. Interior Design is indeed a science that is bound by its own elements and principles and yes, it is not as simple as one imagines it to be! Generally interior designers go by the rule book that states that ‘There are 7 elements and 7 principles of Interior Design’.

  1. Space: Space is one of the most important elements of interior design. Space acts as a foundation on which the entire interior design plan is built. Hence it is essential that the designer is well aware of the space available, its dimensions and its utilities. Space is divided into two types namely (Two Dimensional Space which covers the floor (includes length and width) and Three Dimensional Space which forms the living space (includes length, width and height)). A space that is essentially filled with furniture/décor items is a Positive Space and an empty space is a Negative Space. An equilibrium has to be maintained between the positive and negative spaces and either overcrowding or skimping on the furniture/décor items is going to affect this equilibrium.
  2. Lines: Lines give birth to forms and shapes and are responsible for establishing a sense of harmony, contrast and unity (3 of the 7 principles) in a living space. They define shapes and act as visual guides of an interior space. Lines are broadly categorized into three types (Horizontal, Vertical and Dynamic). While horizontal lines adorn structures likes tables, chairs and beds, vertical lines can be found on windows, doorways and almirahs. While horizontal lines add a safe and secure feeling to the space, vertical lines emote free and expansive nature. Dynamic or angular lines, which are action oriented add drama and can be seen on structures like stairs. An interior designer must know how to utilize these lines to define the forms, another important interior design element.
  3. Form:Forms mean shapes in general, an outline of any three dimensional object in the space. Forms can be created by combining two or more shapes and can be accentuated with the help of other elements like texture, patterns and colors. A well-defined form establishes harmony and additional forms add balance to the space. There are two types of forms ( Geometric (man-made) and Natural (organic)). Also forms are categorized as open and closed; open forms are those that can be looked into and closed forms are those that are enclosed by a closed surface. A solid understanding of the above mentioned elements i.e. space and line is required to achieve a good form.
  4. Light: Light is one of the most obvious elements of interior design. Either natural or man-made, without light other elements namely color, texture and pattern have no significance at all. Light sets in the mood and ambience into a living space and highlights the every other element including space, line and forms. While smart placement of doors and windows should take care of the natural light, man-made or artificial lighting is broadly divided into three major types namely (Task Lighting, Accent Lighting and Mood Lighting). Task light as the name implies, includes light sources like table and bed lamps which have a defined purpose, dedicated for a specific task. Accent lights are meant for highlighting a particular piece or show item like artworks, structures, sculptures and so on. Mood or ambient lighting basically set the mood of the living space and illuminate the overall space.
  5. Color: One of my favorite elements of interior design because of its subconscious influence on us, color is what sets at least 80% of the whole mood of a space. It wouldn’t be possible to see color without light, however, so those two elements work hand-in-hand. Choosing a color palette for a space is one of the most important tasks in designing an interior. The correct choice of colors can multiply the effectiveness of the overall design by meeting a space’s function. The correct choice of colors supports the function of a space. Take a bedroom, for instance. Bedrooms are for sleep and relaxing; that’s the function of a bedroom. Each color of the spectrum carries intrinsic qualities. Red, for example, inspires action. Blues and greens promote peacefulness and a certain calm and groundedness. Which would you choose for your bedroom?
  6. Texture: Texture mainly deals with surfaces and determines how a typical surface looks and feels. Texture adds depth and interest into a living space and defines the feel/appearance and consistency of a surface. Texture is broadly classified into two types (Visual Texture where the texture is only visible and Actual Texture where the texture is both seen and felt). Anything that has to do with textiles such as pillow cover, bedspreads or anything to do with covers like drapes, wall paint or wallpapers have a texture. While there must be a dominant texture to define a mood, a contrasting texture must also be included to avoid monotony.
  7. Pattern: Patterns also work hand-in-hand with light. In interior design, a pattern is a repeated decorative element. Patterns don’t have to be so obvious such as on wallpapers and textile. They can also be used throughout a space to create a sense of uniformity and harmony. The element of pattern works in conjunction with color. It is used in interior design to add life and interest to the furnishings in a room. It works like texture to provide interest to surfaces. Patterns are created by using repetitive designs in fabrics, rugs, paint techniques and wallpaper. Just think how dull a room would be without pattern!

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