Back to the Basics

The Elements and Principles of Design are the foundation or buildng blocks of Interior Design.  How many times have you seen a space that is really put together and thought  “Wow that is really nice, how did she do that?”  Elements and Principals are second nature to designers.  When you study a space and discover the Elements & Principles iincorporated into the design you’ll soon realize that designer really knew what she was doing!



Space is defined by walls, funishings, ceilings and other devices such as screens and columns.  Space can be open as in a large empty room or closed as in a small closet.

In this example the railing defines and separates the dining area from the living space while still leaving it open and free flowing.


In this bedroom the ceiling seperates the seating area from the sleeping space.  The lower height also makes it a nice cozy place to enjoy the fire.

Image13Here the change in floor height as well as the short wall, which also serves as the back to the sectional, defines the living room.  Isn’t this a great room?


Space can also be positive or negative.  Take for example a bar stool.  The positive space would be the wood and legs plus the upholstered seat and back.  The negative space is the opening or empty areas between the seat and the back of the chair.



Form refers to three dimensional structures, like a cube or a pyramid, while shape is the two dimensional counterpart to form – seen as squares and triangles.  Both form and shape can be rectilinear, angular, or curved.

The circular form of the chandelier creates a real focal point in this dining room.  The table repeats the shape and the soft curves of the chair backs make them appear to form a larger circle around the table.

Image17The lamp, a compostion of circles – very unique.


In this room more rectangular and square forms dominate the space.


This dining table from Century combines circles, half circles and rectangles all in one spectacular table.


Then check out the top of the table – a square veneer pattern.  This table has it all going on!


The circular shapes amid the square tiles creates a very interesting foyer.


The circular shape of the bar stools, island and light fixtures contrasts the more rectilinear cabinets and wndows.  Great juxtapostion of shapes.



A line is the connection of two points.  It can be straight or curved.  Straight horizontal lines create a feeling of restfulness, security, and weight while vertical lines have a feeling of strength and formality.  Diagonal lines suggest movement and energy.  Curved lines are soft, flowing, and graceful.

We looked at this room earlier for an illustration of Space but the strong horizontal Lines anchor the living room further defining the space.


This is a spectacular wet bar – strong horizontal lines and vertical/angular lines suggesting strength and movement.  A great compostion to balance the stone fireplace.


The curved line of the column contrasts with all the straight horizontal lines of this room, without it this room may seem a bit too strong.


The white horizontal lines against the wood grain wall create a focal point for this lounge area.


In the next Back To Basics we’ll look at the final two Elements of Design – Texture and Color.  Stay tuned.


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