This is one of the most important aspects of interior design, and it is split into two categories: positive and negative space. Positive space contains furniture and other objects while negative space is empty. Different design styles make different uses of space. For example, a minimalist approach has more negative space. The challenge is to strike a balance between the two, not too crowded or too sparse. This will be decided by the look and feel you want to achieve as well as the functionality of the area.
Interior designers also leverage lines to shape a room and guide the eye. The three main types of lines are horizontal, vertical and dynamic.
Lend a tranquil atmosphere to a room and create a sense of stability and formality. They are created by tables and other surfaces and can make a room appear longer and wider.
Perfect lines shown in this example from Tailored Living. Image attributed to.
Form refers to the shape of a room as well as the objects within. Forms can either be geometric (hard lines, square edges and manmade in appearance) or natural (more organic forms that look like they were created by nature). Natural forms can either be open, which means they are objects that can be looked into or closed, which is self-contained and enclosed by a surface.
This room is a purposely styled to show unconsidered elements of design, with jumbled shapes and overcrowded space. Shutterstock Stock Image
Natural or artificial light is a crucial aspect of any space. Besides its functional purpose, light can set the mood and atmosphere of any room as well as define colours, textures and lines. Light can be divided into several categories, such as: Task Lighting – as the name suggests, it is providing adequate light for tasks to be carried out. Accent Lighting – focuses light on an object or area to highlight it. Backlighting and uplighting are examples of accent lighting. Mood Lighting – sets the mood or atmosphere of a space. When thinking about light, it is important to consider what activities will be conducted in the room. For example, a study or workspace will need plenty of light so people can easily see what they’re doing, while a living room may need a softer lighting scheme. For versatility, use dimmers. Lighting fixtures can add dramatic and stylish touches to rooms.
Texture refers to the look and feel of an object or finish and is often overlooked. Textures such as glossy, smooth and coarse can add depth and interest to a space. There is actual texture, which refers to the feel of fabrics, such as smooth silk and crisp linens. Then there is visual texture such as stone wallpaper that gives the illusion of stone and adds a rustic look to a room.
Industrial kitchen design showing lots of use of texture. Image attributed to Tracey Andrews Interiors.
Colour is one of the most defining aspects of a room setting its mood and atmosphere. Colours stir emotions, evoke memories and inspire feelings. For example, green suggests peace and tranquillity, as does blue, which also has a calming effect. Purple indicates luxury and mystery, while brown can be homey and inviting.
Patterns work with colours and add interest to a room. They are a collection of lines and forms that can be used anywhere, such as cushions, ceilings, staircases, picture frames, curtains and pillows. Patterns help bring a space to life.
The 7 elements of design are the ‘go to’ when thinking about a new room or space and form the backbone of the design.
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