SO, WHAT ARE
THE PRINCIPLES OF DESIGN?
five principles of design that play important roles in creating a
functional and satisfying space. Here is a description of each one.
is achieved when a consistent personality is created for both the style of your furnishings and for the furniture
arrangement. Harmony is produced when you are consistently true to
the aura you selected for your room. All parts of the room and all
aspects of the furnishings should contribute to the same theme of
the room. Take time to really think through this planning stage and
determine a very accurate word or phrase to serve as your standard
for all the decorating elements of the room. All components of the
room should have your chosen theme as the decorating goal.
is this room works toward the same goal of a girl’s stylish bedroom
and it is achieved by the straight lines of the cabinet, the
window-shade, canopy top, and the floor tiles. In contrast the gentle
curves of the chair back, legs of the small white tables, and the
mirror frame provide interest. There is a general color theme yet
there is quite a bit of diversity and some unexpected hues
goal appears to be a sophisticated, elegant public room used for
conversation and reading. The absence of striking color enhances the
dramatic patterns of the fabrics which receive no competition from the
lamps and lighted etageres. The architecture provides great drama for
room as well.
is repeated patterns in shapes and arrangements. A shape in one
area is reprised by a similar or matched shape in another part of
the room. For example, a curved sofa may rest on an oval rug.
Rhythm and harmony are partners in that rhythm weaves patterns of
shape, form, color, and texture all around the room.
Likewise, rhythm exists within the furniture arrangements. By placing
a single chair at each end of a dining table and two at each side,
your arrangement is in a pattern and thus is pleasing to the eye.
storefront window illustrates rhythm in the similar shapes, sizes, and
the arrangement. It appears comforting for the eye to follow it.
repetition of the soft folds of the drapes, wall hanging, and dust
ruffle reveal the rhythm of the bedroom. The soft curve of the
upholstered headboard blends in with the gentle rhythm of the entire
EMPHASIS OR FOCAL POINT creates drama and order for a space.
Just as a person’s head is the focal point of the body, a single
aspect of a room should be the most striking or eye-catching spot in
the room. Architectural features that often create emphasis are
fireplaces, large windows, or glass doors. If your focal point does
not please you, there are many ways to minimize or distract from it;
however, you will need to establish an alternative one. A beautiful
large painting hung above the sofa could serve nicely.
This photo exemplifies the principle of a focal point in that the two
largest pieces of furniture (the sofa and the coffee table) are
together under the largest framed piece in the room. Everything leads
to this most important part of this living room.
The striking bed and its beautiful linens are the focal point of the
room which is accentuated with the grouping of prints above the bed.
This area is the “must-see” portion of this gorgeous bedroom.
of focal point could be a functional one, such as an entertainment
center housing a television. Ideally the conversation grouping could
provide views to both focal points.
is achieved by relating the size and proportion of things you place
in a group and by relating them to the space they occupy. Keep the
heights and the hefts of your furniture similar to each other and
relative to the size of the room. For example, do not place a small
delicate-looking dining table in a room that is too large or too
tall for it. Do not hang an oversized lighting fixture above it or
surround it with large fabric patterns. Likewise, the chairs around
a dining table should be similar in proportion to the table, to each
other, and to the people likely to be using them.
grand Gothic room pictured here is an excellent example of employing
large scale furniture such as the central table in a huge room with
extremely tall ceilings. Likewise large bookcases filled with
numerous books and topped with many plates provide sufficient mass to
be included in the room. Therefore, the scale is consistent
throughout the room.
dollhouse room uses doll furniture that is all the correct size for
the room. Each piece is in appropriate proportion to each other.
comforting to the eye in that an approximate equality is perceived
among the different weights of parts of a room. Strong visuals
importance or visual weight. All major features of a room:
windows, fireplaces, alcoves, and built-ins have visual weight.
Because the dimensions of an object are defined by edges and
corners, these are what most engage the eye. The eye uses edge
lines of walls, wall corners, fireplace edges, and corners of
furniture arrangements to make its calculations. The eye does
not know where to land and rest when these edges are in randomly
different places. The solution is to relate the most powerful
edges to each other by aligning or centering them on each other.
Here the eye finds peace and balance.
balance is achieved here in two ways: the mass of the back windows is
about the size of the mass of the bed; the ceiling, being dark adds
weight and balances off both the windows and the bed.
In the rear of this dollhouse furniture display, there is too much
weight in the three pieces on the right. It appears that corner may
fall off! The settee arrangement is better balanced in that the
end-table and the teacart are nearer in size and weight to each
O.K., NOW THAT YOU KNOW THE GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF THE FIVE ELEMENTS OF
DESIGN, YOU MAY FEEL FREE TO BREAK THESE RULES AS YOU SEE FIT FOR YOUR
OWN PERSONAL SPACES.
like to walk about amidst the beautiful things that adorn