Elements Of Good Design

Four fundamentals give any room a sense of style

Sometimes it seems as if, what constitutes good design is purely subjective.  One client rejects any home with French Provincial furniture.  Another will look only at ultramodern interiors.  And then there’s the guy with the Leg Lamp.  But if taste sometimes seems arbitrary and fast-changing, there are core principles of all good interior design that are timeless. Keep the followin design principles in mind to create a room that has great style and functionality.  


Balance means using furniture and other objects to make each part of an arrangement roughly equal in visual weight so that one area harmoniously complements the other.  Perhaps the easiest way to achieve balance is through symmetry, where one side of a room exactly matches the other.  It’s balanced, but it’s also formal.  Balance can also be asymmetrical, with one large piece of furniture offset with several smaller furniture pieces or objects.  You want to achieve a visual symphony in which every note is appropriate to the function of a room and nothing is distracting; it’s like a great musical composition.


Harmony in a room occurs when all parts of the arrangement-from furniture to accessories to wall color-combine to create a pleasing whole.  An easy way to achieve harmony is through repetition-in color, texture, or shape.  So a green chair might be echoed by green in the draperies and green pillows on the sofa.  Repetition doesn’t necessarily mean duplication, however.  You can change color intensities, for example, from a deep to a lighter hue, and still gain a sense of repetition.  But don’t go overboard; too much repetition can make a room feel predictable and boring.  An orchestration of related elements helps us comprehend and connect objects in relation to space.  Without connection, the space seems to lack a sense of unity.


Every well-designed room needs a focal point-a fireplace, a terrific view framed by a compelling window treatment, or a powerful painting-to draw the eye into the space.  Large spaces may need several points of emphasis.  It’s the contrast between what is emphasized and what is not that creates interest in a space.  Without a focal point, there’s not place for the eye to rest and the interior seems uninteresting.  With a focal point, you can immediately respond to the aesthetics of an interior.



In a home, the adage “form follows function” should be the golden rule.  A room where children will play and the family will gather needs furniture with durable fabric, a layout with space for blocks or homework, and relaxed furniture styles to fit the room’s many functions.  Everything in a given space should be appropriate to and support the experience of what will take place there.

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