Principle of Design #3 – Emphasis

Written by The Peaceful Cottage on . Posted in Bathroom Design, Home Design, Principles and Elements of Design

Emphasis in interior design is simply enhancing or creating a focal point in the room. A successful focal point immediately draws the eye to a specific point in the design. It does not have to be dynamic in pattern or bold in color because size, color, line, texture, woodwork and ornamental detail can all be used to attract attention.

Some natural focal points often found in a room include: a fireplace, a beautiful view, architectural details, artwork or a large piece of furniture (such as a bed or piano). Other objects in the room should compliment the primary focal point.

Principle of Design #2 – Rhythm

Written by The Peaceful Cottage on . Posted in Home Design, Principles and Elements of Design

The brick wall creates rhythm in this bedroom.
(Image from Country Living, “Guest Bedroom Decor.”)

In Interior Design, rhythm is the means through which the eye is drawn around the room. It creates harmony and unity in design. Successful rhythm will create expectation, anticipation and even surprise. Rhythm may be used to draw attention to the focal point in the room.

There are five ways to create rhythm:
1. Repetition and Alternation
Repetition is created through the multiple uses of white in this bedroom.
(Image from Country Living, “Guest Bedroom Decor.”)

Repetition establishes rhythm through repeated elements in the design. Repetition may be found in color, pattern, texture, line, architectural elements, lighting and furniture. An example of repetition can be found in a series of chairs lined up in a room.

Alternation is the sequence of two or more components creating a pattern which the eye can easily follow. An example of alternation would be a series of pillows in two coordinated prints creating a ABABAB pattern.

2. Progression
West Elm Modular Nesting Tables
(West Elm Modular Nesting Tables)

Progression is the use of shapes moving from large to small, or small to large (an example may be found in nesting tables). You can also create progression with colors gradating from dark to light or light to dark.

3. Transition
The strong lines of the exposed-beam ceiling draw the eye from one side of the room to the other.
(Image from Country Living, “Guest Bedroom Decor.”)

Transition leads the eye without interruption from one point to another. Some ways you can create this continuous line include: architectural elements such as crown molding and wainscoting, a carpet runner, or a painted wall.

4. Contrast
(Photograph from Joe Schmelzer)

Contrast or opposition is created by an abruptly changing, repetitive pattern. Some examples include: contrasting patterns (striped, plain, striped, plain); color (black, white, black, white); or varying forms (angular and circular).

5. Radiation
(Image of spiral staircase located at

Radiation is established through the use of concentric or spoke-like lines from a central point. Radial rhythm is often found in windows and floor patterns.

Principle of Design #1 – Balance, Scale and Mass

Written by The Peaceful Cottage on . Posted in Home Design, Principles and Elements of Design

I love learning about the “secrets” to design… so I thought I would do a series on the Elements and Principles of Design.

Principle #1 – Balance, Scale and Mass
(Image from

Balance and scale are used to create mass, or visual weight, in design. When a visual equilibrium is met the room will feel composed and completed. Careful consideration should be given to the placement of objects throughout the space. For example, if one side of a room contains several dark, heavy or large pieces the room will often feel off-balanced.

You can create balance in a room with symmetrical (mirror image) placement of objects from a central point. Typically, symmetrical balance will create a more formal feel.

(Image from

Balance can also be achieved asymmetrically by placing varied objects around a central point. Often asymmetrical balance will create a more informal or casual feel in a room.
(Images from Country Living, A Kitchen Full of Color)

A third way to create balance is through radial placement. Objects are placed in a circle around a the center point of the design.
(Image from House Beautiful, “Dark Dining Room”)

Some helpful points for achieving this visual equilibrium are:
* The visual weight is more important than the actual dimensions or size of an object…
* It is important to factor architectural elements – such as a fireplace or large window – into the “balance equation”…
* Massing furniture or objects together can create a heavier visual impact. For example, a sofa may be balanced with two smaller chairs…
* You can balance a little piece with a bigger piece by placing the large object closer to the central axis and the small object further away…
* Lighting can effect arrangement as it will create a visual impact of its own…
* Achieving balance is intuitive…

“The desire for symmetry, for balance, for rhythm is one of the most inveterate of human instincts.”

–Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman, Jr. (The Decoration of Houses)