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Interior Design Basics - Part 2

Updated: Aug 2, 2019

In my last design post, I shared some of the elements or ‘building blocks’ of design. Today I thought I’d expand on that and look at design principles, which are some tools designers use to create the visual impact. These are balance, rhythm and repetition, emphasis, proportion and scale, and harmony. Hope some of these ideas are helpful for you in your own home!


We all probably know when we don’t feel this in a room, but it’s sometimes hard to put a finger on why. The balance of a room is what gives it cohesiveness and makes it pleasing to the eye. It involves the space, windows, ceiling heights, colours and other design elements. For example, different objects in a room can have a certain ‘weight’ – so a dark, chunky object will look visually heavier than a small, light coloured object and so these should be distributed around a room, rather than concentrating all your heavy furniture in one corner. Balance is generally used in two ways:

Symmetrically – This is when a room is basically a mirror image of itself and is used when you want a room to appear more formal.

Asymmetrically – This is when two sides of a room look different, but they still have similar weights (using a wardrobe on one side and maybe a piece of dramatic artwork on the other). This is for a more informal look.

Rhythm and Repetition

Rhythm and repetition help visually link different elements and objects in a space. Most well designed rooms will have some kind of repetition of texture, colour, shapes etc. The rhythm of a space helps you look around a room and gives you focal points at intervals. So, for instance, you may have a rug with square patterns that picks up the squares in a bookshelf. In my house, I attempted a reindeer motif that appears throughout the space and the colours of white, wood and green that repeat across the room.


This is where the focal point of the space is. It is usually a view, fireplace or dramatic piece of artwork or furniture. The other objects in the space should help guide the eye to this focal point. Again, maybe it easiest to see when this is done badly. A beautiful view through a window, for instance, would be detracted from if the furniture in the room was very loudly patterned or very dark and big, as the eye would then be guided to this instead of the view. Try using lighter, monotone furniture and decorative elements that echo the emphasis. It may be fun for you to think about what the emphasis is in your own living area and how that is highlighted (or can be highlighted better). Check out our beautiful prints for some great ways to add emphasis to your own home.

Proportion and Scale

Proportion and scale are the relationship of objects and the room to one another. Bigger is not necessarily better. Oversize furniture for instance, in a space that is small, will make a room look even smaller, where the reverse would make a room look far too cavernous. The size of a rug is another good example of where proportion can be important. You don’t want a rug that is too small for your furniture (as a general rule, all the front feet of your furniture should sit on the rug). Another interesting technique is the use of negative space. This is the ‘blank space’ around an object that can be used to highlight it and is popular in minimalism.


Harmony is the end result of all the elements and principles working together. It is when the space, light and other fixed physical aspects of the room are complemented by what you have added to them (texture, patterns, colours etc). Again, it is sometimes a bit intangible to define, but you know it when you see it!

I hope these tips have been helpful for your next renovation or redecorating project.

As always, don't forget to check out our store for some great interior styling pieces.

Med vennlig hilsen,


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