“Design is one of the most powerful forces in our environment. Through design, lives are changed, attitudes are lifted, and dreams inspired.” From HGTV to “Extreme Makeover, Home Edition” – there is a design program for everyone. There’s also a plethora of magazines and books out there to catch our interest.
Why are we so drawn to these avenues of design? Maybe we are searching for guiding principles or rules of good design. Unfortunately there are no hard and fast “rules” of design. Design is a search for “good” and “better.” But where do we start?
That’s easy – we start at the beginning! But, where is the beginning? Often times we pick a chair to decorate around or a painting – and sometimes that will work. But, it’s better if we start with the basics.
Think of it this way – when we start the first grade of school we learn our ABCs. Knowing the alphabet makes learning to read and write possible. It’s the same with decorating – if we know the basics we can put the design together. And, the more we use the basics the easier they become. So, what are the basics? Where do we start?
Let’s look at line first. There are four types of lines that you need to consider when decorating. First are the horizontal lines which are usually calmer and less dynamic than other lines and are usually less formal.
Next are vertical lines which are considered bold and active and force the eye upward adding drama and dignity to a space and giving the room a more formal feel.
Diagonal lines can be more difficult to use — they are so active they keep the eye in constant motion and can create a lack of ease. When used properly, diagonal lines can add energy and power to a room.
Curved lines are perhaps the most whimsical of all the lines. Curved lines are more playful and less rigid than any of the other lines. Use diagonal and curved lines sparingly because they are so active and can easily overpower a room.
Next is rhythm, the heartbeat of an interior – a critical element in any space. There are three types of rhythm. The first is regular rhythm, which is a safe and effective design tool, but using it too often can make a room feel static and somewhat boring. Irregular rhythm is less formal and creates movement. With practice irregular rhythm can add character and flair to any space.
Progressive rhythm incorporates anticipation and sequence and is not random making it somewhat harder to use. A good example of progressive rhythm would be a cluster of three candles of the same diameter but of three different heights.
The careful use of scale can have an enormous impact on the feeling of a room or space. The scale of an element is its size relative to other nearby objects.
Shape. Think of shape as two-dimensional: circles, squares, rectangles, ovals and even odd shapes. Shapes can be used alone or combined with others.
Form is similar to shape but it adds a third dimension – a square becomes a cube; a circle becomes a cylinder, sphere or cone. Carefully chosen shapes and forms combine to create dynamically balanced settings.
Speaking of balance … balance in design can be related to balancing your budget or to balancing the scale of justice – one side counterweighs the other, either symmetrically or asymmetrically. Symmetrically balanced design is a “safe” design, a more comfortable and expected solution. By contrast, asymmetrically balanced design is less formal and offers greater opportunity for individual expression and creativity. Objects are never the same in asymmetrically design. So take a look at your living room mantel or dining room buffet. Is the design symmetrical or asymmetrical? Then decide if a change would be beneficial.
Every object has mass, which can be dense, lightweight, or anywhere in between. When used properly, mass can unify and ground your space.
Texture is sometimes forgotten in the decorating palette, but it is, without question, one of the most important elements in any space. The texture of an object or wall, whether smooth, rough, stippled, or patterned, adds sensual interest to a room. Be warned, texture can be easily overused. But when used properly, texture is the glue that holds the entire space together.
Patterns come in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors and textures. Be sure to choose a pattern that reflects the mood you are trying to achieve and that it works with the other elements in the design.
Variety is the spice of interiors just as it is the spice of life. By varying pattern, texture, color, scale and rhythm you can add drama and interest to any space. Some variety is important in your design, but too much can ruin a room. Use variety sparingly.
Our last element is proportion – the relationship of one object to others. Think about how one element of an object rates against others in the same design. Examples of proportion would be how the lampshade works with the base of the lamp; or, the lines of the legs of the table in relationship to the skirt or apron of the table.
I hope this has helped you in evaluating the basic elements of design in your home. Happy decorating!!!
Carol’s Custom Draperies & Interiors
112 W Oak St