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Styles and Principles


In this module you will be learning about the vast number of different Design styles and ways in which to apply
them into your interior spaces. You will learn about the different elements that need to exist within a space in order
to create the certain style or design effect you desire. This will give you the basic grounding to get you started on
decorating your own home. You will then look at the Design Principles needed in order to base your design upon.
These principles will aid you in creating spaces that have a balanced aesthetic appeal. Design Principles will help you
to create a unique space that "works" for you.

Understanding of Design styles

Ability to apply these design styles in order to create schemes for decorating
Presentation of Room style and layouts
Understanding of Design Principles
Overall Creativity in Designing.

Design Styles:
- Naturalistic, Organic, Geometric, Abstract
- Rustic Style, Country Style, Asian Style, Tuscan style, Retro Style, Shabby Chic, Minimalist Style, Contemporary Modern, High Tech Style and Eclectic.
Design Principles:
- Emphasis, Harmony, Balance, Repetition, Rhythm, Proportions, Scale.
- Workbook exercise 1
- Assignment 1

See Reference list

Before going ahead and decorating your Interior Space or room, you need to
consider the style in which you will be decorating the space in. The Style in which
you decide on, is completely up to your own personal preference. This style could
either reflect your own personality, a design style that you may like, or it may even
reflect a country or city that you may have previously visited and fallen in love with.
These design styles are crucial in getting you started in the right direction. You may
have an idea of furniture, colours and fittings, but without a clear indication of a
design style (theme) you will find it very difficult to get your design from start to
completion. Design styles are there to ensure that your room or designed space has
a significant impact on the person entering into the space. A space that they will
remember. A space your friends and family will be talking about for years to come.
There are so many different design styles that seem to be peering up here and there.
There are 4 main design styles that we will look at closely. They are namely:

Naturalistic design

Organic design

Geometric design

Abstract design

These 4 main design styles are the basis of the remaining design styles that exist. They
form the foundation of any other style that is created.






The other design styles may use one, two or even ALL of these main design styles
characteristics to create their own design style. These design styles will be discussed
further in this module.

The main design styles that have been developed are:

Naturalistic design

Organic design

Geometric design

Abstract design

Naturalism: (definition) imitating, or reproducing nature in effect or

Naturalistic design can incorporate inspirations from anything in nature and
that includes any fantastical ideas from your own mind. With the 'green'
decoration movement, lots of natural materials are popular in modernist-style
designing which includes everything from sustainable and renewable
materials like bamboo floor covering to pebble-tiled floor tiles and natural
rock walls or fireplaces. It would not be strange to see a tree rising throughout
a skylight tube fixture as the main focal point of a naturalistic setting.
Naturalistic applications:


Consider the usage of faux leather,

Natural cotton or seascape-motivated accessories, for instance a
beautiful wood bowl with natural seashells from an extraordinary trip to
the seaside.
Natural wall colours from the earth tones palette( eg. Browns, tans,
Greens, Beige, white. Etc).
Added texture to a paint colour would create a more naturalistic feel
(eg.Plascon Suede paint).
Natural sandstone tiling throughout your space
Textured bamboo wallpaper
Cork flooring
Pebbled floor tiles used on a shower floor
Natural landscape artworks
Soft cottons
Stark white cottons mixed with soft blues to create a seascape interior.

Naturalistic design can be further developed into RUSTIC STYLE as well as an

element of COUNTRY STYLE (with the seascape theme being prominent).
ASIAN and TUSCAN STYLE can use the elements of naturalistic style if you
wished to depict the natural landscape of those areas in your designed
Below is a mood board of an example of a Naturalistic space. Please take
note that a design style needs to depict every aspect present within a space.
For example: its floor finish, wall finish, furniture fittings, Accessories etc. In
order to develop this style throughout the entire decorating process it is best
to start thinking of all of your finishes from the get go.

{Mood Board depicting Naturalistic Design elements}

Organic design: Designs that unfold and sprawls out like an organism.
Organic shapes, whether utilized in art or in landscaping, can be difficult to
create. Although it seems like they would be simpler to create than
geometric shapes, which are rigid and precise, it can also be difficult to
create organic shapes that truly look as if they came from nature. A curving
or flowing line that curves too far can look manmade and detract from the
natural look of the design. Therefore, it can be rather time consuming to
create organic shapes that look natural.
In design, it is best to plan out a rough design first to make sure the organic
shapes look natural. Organic design is shown in free flowing spaces. These
interactive spaces are soft and free flowing. Organic design in a home can
be incorporated in the fittings and furniture pieces placed within the space.
Organic design pieces are usually extremely innovative and exciting to look
at. One needs to merely think of an Amoeba and how it moves around from
place to place, always free flowing with no precise form or dimensions.
Organic applications:

A organic shaped wallpaper Little trees (Aquamarine) by Miss print


Soft Curved furniture (No hard edges)

An Irregular room layout where there is no defined geometry to your
Interesting organic pendent lighting. (eg. Round retro lights)
A large irregular rug underneath your lounge setting. This could be in
the form of a circle or a kidney bean shape (such as seen in Retro
Irregular paint techniques on a feature wall, such as a washed on paint
effect that creates swirls.

ORGANIC DESIGN can be further developed into design styles such as RETRO
DESIGN and elements of SHABBY CHIC. We will discuss these later on the in

{Mood Board depicting Organic design elements}

Geometric design:

Of or relating to geometry and its methods and

principles. Increasing or decreasing in a geometric
progression. Using simple geometric forms such as
circles and squares in design and decoration.

Geometric style can be defined as a combination of shapes or a repetition of

shapes within a space. When one thinks of geometric, one thinks of order.
Whether it be a progression of shapes starting from small and getting bigger
(Such as a nest of tables that fit one underneath the other) or a repetition of
shapes in the form of three large circular mirrors in an entrance hall that
creates a sense of scale and space. The geometric style can very often
create emphasis, as our eyes are trained to identify common shapes
continuously. Since our eyes are trained to distinguish shapes, we often find
that geometric design is a safe design style that most people feel
comfortable with. It does however create a very rigid space, often creating
hard, clinical spaces, if not careful. Geometric design is very simple to
incorporate into your space. By balancing furniture layouts within your space,
you are already half way there. Geometric shapes have a sense of balance
and therefore creating a space that has some form of symmetry will therefore
give your space the geometric style you so desire.

Geometric applications:

Tiled flooring. An emphasis would be a checkerboard tiled floor

Very geometric furniture

A wallpaper that consists of a repetition of shapes

A large rectangular rug below the dining room table

Panelled wood feature wall, either running horizontal or vertical.

Horizontal blinds

GEOMETRIC DESIGN can be further developed into MINIMALISTIC DESIGN,

CONTEMPORARY MODERN as well as some aspects of HIGH TECH DESIGN.

{Mood Board depicting Geometric Design elements}

Abstract design: Difficult to understand, distorted and overlapped to create

new shapes.

Abstract design uses a visual language of form, colour and line to create a
composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual
references. Abstract design is design that is out of the box, strange to the
eye and sometimes weird to look at. Abstract design creates interest and is
usually very overwhelming to the viewer. Therefore it is generally best not to
incorporate abstract design into your entire home space, as you will most
probably feel like you are out of this world. It would be best to rather
incorporate a hint of abstract style in the form of a quirky chair piece or an
abstract wall graphic within your space. Abstract style generally derives its
generic form from Organic and Geometric style. This form is then contorted
and abstracted into a new out of the box, uncommon form, creating an
abstract style.
Abstract applications:

A mixture of forms blending into one another in a wallpaper

An interesting abstracted chair

An abstract light fitting

An old piece of furniture that has been revamped and converted into
an abstract form of itself.

ABSTRACT STYLE can be further developed into ECLECTIC DESIGN as well as

HIGH TECH DESIGN. We will discuss all of these developed styles in more

{Mood board depicting Abstract design elements}

Workbook exercise:
You are required to find a chair designed in each of the above mentioned
design styles (Naturalistic, Organic, Geometric and Abstract). These chairs
can be found in books, via the internet or alternatively you may take pictures
yourself of any chairs you may see.
You are to present these 4 chairs within a table and indicate the following:

The design style you are depicting

The name of the chair
The name of the designer
The materials used (applied to the chairs) or which material you think
would best indicate the style that you are indicating.

For example, if I am showing a naturalistic chair and I choose to show this

Pine and chestnut chair ~ by Lee Jae-Hyo, I would need to indicate the
name of the chair, who designed it as well as which materials they have used
in order to convey the naturalistic style. If you see a chair that may convey
the form of the style you are wanting to depict but not the materials, please
choose which materials YOU would use to best depict the style.


Picture of chair



Name of



should be
used to



From the understanding of these main design styles, new developed design
styles have been created. There are so many design styles that can be
named, but we are only going to look at a few. Namely:

Rustic Style
Country Style
Asian Style
Tuscan Style
Retro Style
Shabby Chic
Minimalistic style
Contemporary Modern
High Tech Style

These styles originate from the main design styles and very often are a
combination of one or two of the styles.
















Rustic style structure has crude and rough details. Structural elements of
furniture / lighting can be in tree trunks, logs, branches, jute etc. Rustic style is
generally found in mountain vacation homes, bungalows or rural resorts.
Rustic style creates a very relaxed feeling and is generally extremely
masculine. It uses the rawness of materials and textures to create a feeling of
naturalness in the space.

{Mood board depicting Rustic style elements}

Country style is elegant with influences from English, French or Scandinavian
classic pure style. This style can also be called rural chic. Furniture finishes
usually have soft colours applied to them such as pure white, soft greys,
beige and pastel colors. Furniture surfaces are often painted and not left in its
traditional state.

{Mood board depicting Country Style elements}

Asian style interior design, sometimes called Oriental design, showcases the
cultures of Japan, China, Vietnam, Thailand and other prominent Eastern
societies. Some room designs are true to one style, while many Asian themed
rooms are a combination of two or more cultural influences. The most
recognizable design styles are Chinese and Japanese.
Feng shui is practiced in many Asian countries, but it is becoming increasingly
popular in Western cultures. This is a set of ancient Chinese guidelines for
properly placing objects and furniture pieces into your space. Feng shui
states that all objects have energy that is positive or negative, so care should
be taken to balance these energies. For example, one should not use too
much red and black within their interior space as this causes male and
female arguments.

Bold colours and ornate furniture pieces are used when decorating in Asian
style. Dramatic use of colour such as red, being extremely prominent, due to
its good luck qualities. Other bright accents of yellow and Green are
generally used as well. Mythological animals are generally shown in murals,
artworks or fabrics. The space it generally very open plan, creating a zen-like
space, with fold back screens distinguishing and defining certain areas to
your space. Bamboo, stone and other natural materials such as Silk create a
Japanese- Asian style. Clean lines and low furniture pieces are a crucial
aspect in this style that needs to be adhered to in order to best create an
Asian setting.

{Mood board depicting Asian Style elements}

Homes decorated in the Tuscan decorating style are inspired by the elements
of nature. Crumbling stone walls, intricate wrought iron accessories, sunwashed hillsides, rustic stone farmhouses, marble flooring and sturdy
hardwood furniture are just some of the wonderful elements of this
decorating style.
Almost anyone can visualize themselves in such a peaceful setting, therefore
making Tuscan style decorating so popular for today's homes.
The appeal lies in its simplicity.
By combining comfortable, worn, loved pieces, a room becomes warm and
inviting. The Tuscan style derives its name from where it originates; Italy. The
style creates a homely feel to the designed space, with comfort and warmth
being its main focal point. Historical pieces of furniture that have shown to
stand the test of time are generally incorporated into these spaces where no
furniture piece is bright and shiny, but rather warm and inviting. Terracotta
and sandstone are a popular material used in the Tuscan style with Marble
statues adorning cobble paving stones. Water is a must in these areas, with
fountains adorning courtyards, creating a serene setting with romance and
Windows are generally left uncovered to take advantage of natural light.
Wooden surfaces such as cupboards, door and window frames, shutters or
ceiling beams are often left with its natural texture.
Colours in Tuscan style decorating come from the earth. Terracotta, brick,
ochre, greens, and golden yellow are seen everywhere. Blue and green are
added to contribute a visual cooling effect in areas with hot weather.
Surfaces that have been painted add a dash of color even when the finish
wears off. Often walls are painted with a soft white or grey, while accent
colours and natural woods and stone provide the interest. Ceilings have dark
open timbers. Venetian plaster is a technique for adding texture and colour
to new walls. Tuscan style dcor often uses wide plank wooden flooring with
large, antique rugs adding warmth.

{Mood board depicting Tuscan Style elements}

Retro is all about bright colours and contrast. Deriving its style from the Retro
50s to the 70s where plywood formica countertops and laminates were a
must in every household. Retro style brings an element of off the wall surprise
into a space. Interior spaces that have walls painted in a subtle colour with a
brightly coloured flooring and a pronounced stripe or coloured blocks
painted in an alcove of a wall (MARION HASLAM, 2000). Retro style is an
eclectic mix of old styles and new forms, or new forms with old materials and
finishes. From the psychedelic prints of the seventies to the fifties appeal of
oversized light fixtures and bubbly forms, retro style home decor is back in a
big way!
Retro Style application:

Bold patterns and colour: Try to use interesting bold patterns within your
space. Decide on a colour palette and stick to it (This palette can be
bold and bright, but choosing too many colours can make your room
look scattered and uninviting).

Subtle hints of Retro Style: If you wish to bring in the retro style in a more
subtle way, consider using smaller prints of either geometric or organic
shapes repeated on a wallpaper or fabric. Instead of using bold
colours, stick to a neutral palette with pastels and a muted variation of
the bold. Mix and match solids and patterns to play down big and
bold retro styling.
Retro furniture: Include some retro designer furniture pieces into your
space. You can even shop at 2nd hand stores and find a classic retro
style piece, cover it with leathers and bright vinyl fabrics or patterned
prints, lacquer the wood in a bright colour and revamp a piece to look
as good as new.
Include oversized lighting fixtures above a dining room table or in an
entrance hall to create a statement.

{Mood board depicting Retro style elements}

Shabby Chic is a British look that incorporates all-white interior walls, floors,
and ceilings accented with vintage items resting on distressed furniture. Soft
pastels bring focus and offer a more feminine feel to the design. Shabby Chic
style encompasses everything comfortable. It includes the allure of time-worn
objects, and the appeal of simple practical living. Like the cosy familiarity of a
well-worn pair of faded jeans, the dilapidated elegance of an Italian ViIla, or
the worn grandeur of faded velvets and mismatched floral china handed
down from your grandmother's attic, the Shabby Chic style is a revived
appreciation for what is used, well-loved, and worn. It is a respect for natural
evolution and a regard for what is easy and sensible. One would sometimes
say that this style looks messy and worn out, but the beauty found in old
pieces can bring charm into a space. The saying Something old, something
new is truly epitomised in this style (Ashwell, R. 1996).
Shabby Chic application:

Using an old trunk with paint peeling off the edges as a coffee table
Finding valuable flea market finds and restoring them, giving them a
new sense of charm.
An elegant cracked chandelier in an entrance way can add drama
and elegance to a space
A hallstand with a display of antique china
Soft muted sea green painted walls, mixed with soft white patterned
fabrics and upholsteries will give your space romance.
Add candles and trinkets here and there to create warmth and
Throw a couple of interesting art books or classics onto your coffee
table. This will give your space a homey feel.

{Mood board depicting Shabby Chic style elements}

Drawing from cultural developments as diverse as modernist art and Asian
philosophy, minimalism in interior design is nothing less than a celebration of
the perfect expression of space. Minimalist style perfectly balances essential
elements of shape, light, and form to create truly unique living spaces (Rossel,
Q.2005). The oft quoted line by Mies Van De Rohe of less is More, is clearly
epitomised in this style. Neutral colours and textures create a sense of space.
Shadows add to the design as they fall against furniture or create a dramatic
line along a wall (Edwards,C. 2011). Minimalist interiors dont necessarily mean
everything is stripped down. It means everything serves a specific function.
Aesthetically, you will notice emphasis placed on a buildings envelope by
reducing dividing walls to create open floor plans.
Minimalist application:


Dont use bold colours in this space. Paint your walls in white based
cool teals, greens and coral and a predominance of use of the purist
of white. This highly reflective use of white allows light to do the work.
There is a space making effect when light plays upon smooth white
walls. Architectural features are more visible and center stage is given
over to better emphasize objects youll use in decoration.
Use less texture: Texture is something that can block the way of
Minimalist sophistication.
Most fabrics are sleek and smooth yet soft to the touch. Fabric window
treatments are non-existent.
Wood flooring is butt joined plank, flawlessly smooth and shiny.


Base mouldings are linear, used for the function of covering the wall to
floor gap, not for the purpose of being noticed for its profile design.
Kitchen cabinetry is lacquered to a super high shine and topped with
polished granite.
Let the flow of space and light create much of your decoration without
the confusion of ornamentation.
Electronic equipment components selected for their quality and
leading edge design can be set up to be artistic accessory pieces
which exemplify the dual use or functional criteria.
Be selective and show a respect of space. The lines of your favourite
piece of furniture when given enough space in which to value it, will
multiply in decorating worth. Stay disciplined and those things you
value wont be lost in an overcrowded home.

{Mood board depicting Minimalist style elements}

The Modern Contemporary interior design style name is often used
interchangeably with "Mid-Century Modern. Lines in the rooms of
contemporary designed homes are either straight or curved. Crown
mouldings and carved woodwork have been replaced with plain, flat or
rounded, narrower trims. Doors, too, are flat, light coloured wood with small
windows. Rooms are large and open. Large sectional sofas are covered in
nubby tweed fabrics, and the size of the furniture is moderate. Contemporary
style is simple, clean and offers an uncluttered look. Individual pieces of
furniture are essentials of contemporary style. The lighting fixtures are installed
to highlight specific elements or piece like paintings, pictures etc. Track
lighting and recessed lighting are used to light a room in contemporary style.
Contemporary interior design is the opposite of traditional. It involves cleanlines in the design of furniture, striking colours, and abstract ideas for rugs, wall
colours, etc. Noticeable design features include solid colours with contrasting
properties against a blank slate of walls and floor. Furniture has sleek, straight
lines with sharp corners. Few accent pieces are used, which leaves a clean
and open look for visual appeal.
Modern Contemporary application:

Neutrals, black, and white are the main colours in contemporary style
interiors. The palette is often punched up and accented with bright
and bold colour. Black is often used to ground and define a
contemporary style room. With walls painted in a basic neutral, you
have a wonderful backdrop for bold coloured accessories. If the walls
and windows are painted in pastels, the trims should be neutral. If a
wall is a bright, bold colour, neutrals should be used everywhere else.
The most obvious and distinctive element of a contemporary style
interior design is line. It's found in architectural details, use of bold
colour blocks, high ceilings, bare windows, and geometric shapes in
wall art and sculpture. The bare space, on walls, between pieces of
furniture, and above in upper areas, becomes as important as the
areas filled with objects. In contemporary interiors, less is more. Each
piece stands out as individual and unique.
Take advantage of structural elements. Air ducts may hang from a
ceiling, broken bricks provide texture and stability, and exposed
plumbing pipes are perfectly acceptable in a contemporary style
interior. To draw the eye, paint these structural details in bold
contrasting colours, or to diminish their importance, blend them with
the walls.


Smooth, clean, geometric shapes are essential for contemporary style

furniture pieces. Upholstered furniture often wears black, white, or other
neutral tones in textured natural fibres. Cover it in a neutral, black, or
bold fabric. Fabrics often have a natural look found in wool, cotton,
linen, silk, jute, and add textural appeal.
Furniture pieces should be simple and uncluttered, without curves or
decoration. Sofas, chairs, and ottomans have exposed legs. Beds and
chairs usually have no skirt, trim, fringe, or tassels.
Scatter cushions add a shot of colour and texture in clean geometric
Floors in a contemporary style home should be bare and smooth in
wood, tile, or vinyl. If you must use carpet for sound control or warmth,
choose commercial grades. Add colour and texture with plain or
geometric-patterned area rugs (Powers,R.2010)

{Mood board depicting Modern Contemporary style elements}


The High tech style favours artificial and manmade materials instead of the
natural look. Right angles, spheres and circles are seen as highlighted shapes
within a high tech space. Beams and industrial pipes are often exposed,
showing the function of a space. High Tech style has a very cool look with the
abundance of metal, glass and plastic, and the lack of plush upholstery or
carpeting. Metals are usually brushed, embossed, plain or painted, this could
include pressed tin, a spiral staircase or even exposed kitchen appliances.
Flooring is generally industrial looking: Concrete, monochrome ceramic tiles,
Vinyl rubber flooring with raised dots or flat commercial-grade carpeting.
Upholstery is machine-quilted solid-colour fabric, plain canvas, a hard-finish
leather or vinyl, or possibly nylon. Inflatable furniture and exposed steel
framed furniture are part of the high-tech look, too.

High Tech application:



Window treatments such as unembellished roller shades, vertical blinds

and venetian blinds. A typical cloth treatment would be a showercurtain type of window covering, with eyelets that are suspended on
an industrial looking bar.
High-tech generally tends to be minimalist, with few accessories.
Knobs and handles on cabinetry will either be absent or extremely
Lamps tend to be ultramodern styles such as halogens.
Tables are rectangular or round glass table tops,
Chairs made of metal,
Shelves made of glass
Sliding door wardrobes This is not only a fashionable thing, but also
comfortable and functional, making it possible to save space.
(Walker,J. 1992)

{Mood board depicting High Tech design elements}

As the term conveys, the Eclectic decorating style is varied and can develop
into a room that resembles any number of the other decorating styles.
Colours are strictly up to the taste of the person who will live within the interior.
Most people who choose this style do so because they enjoy certain aspects
of all the other styles. The eclectic decorator knows what works together by
seeing relationships. An eclectic room may be defined by colour, shape or
function. It is a light-hearted style that is never boring. An eclectic style is full
of the unexpected, with hints of at least two of the other main styles included.
An eclectic decorating style is easiest to define by what it is not. Eclectic style
doesn't rigidly adhere to any one major style. It is characterized by a freedom
of expression and a vibrant individuality. If you were the kind of child who
deliberately coloured outside the lines, this is the style for you.
Eclectic style is also great for those individuals who love too much. For
example, if you love the richness of Asian and the serenity of contemporary,
you may find these two styles combined in a unique way in your personal
eclectic decorating style. However, eclectic decorating is not a jumble of

whatever catches your eye. It only works when the basic principles of design
are understood and work together to create a unified design. These five
principles are: line, colour, texture, mass and form. Think of your eclectic room
as a work of art composed of these five basic elements and your unique
decorating style will be spectacular.

{Mood Board depicting Eclectic style elements}

All of the above mentioned styles are the basis of where you will get your
inspiration from. You may not even want to use any of these styles as your
inspiration for your home. You may want to focus on a style used by a local
designer that you love, a design trend that you have found in a magazine or
even a pattern or print from a selected fabric. Never the less you will have
some form of Mood or Concept style for the room you wish to design. This
Style will form the inspiration for the getting you started in decorating you

You have already just learnt about the different design styles and way in
which to come up with your style and inspiration for your room or space. The
second step to decorating your home is creating principles for your layout of
your space. These are called Design Principles.
Design Principles and elements describe fundamental ideas of good visual
design. Awareness of the elements and principles in design is the first step in
creating successful spatial compositions. These principles, which may overlap,
are used to help you decide on planning layouts and furniture layouts for
your space.
The list below shows the principles that we will cover:








It is best to decide on which principle/combination of principles you are

going to use in your space in order for you to get going with your basic floor
plan layout. It is best to consider the style you are designing in, before making
this decision, as you wouldnt want confusion in your space. For example, if
you want to incorporate an Asian style into your lounge/living area you would
have to incorporate harmony and balance into your space. You would most
probably want to have your room laid out in some form of symmetry to
create this order.

The Design Principles are explained further below:

1. EMPHASIS - say "Centre of Interest."

It is about dominance and influence. Most artists put it a bit off centre and
balance it with some minor themes to maintain our interest. Some artists
avoid emphasis on purpose. They want all parts of the work to be equally
Emphasis applications:

Emphasis would be obtained by using a large oversized mirror in an

entrance hall,

A brightly painted feature wall with a combination of artworks hung

from it.

A painted red door to your living room

A large chandelier above your dining room table, creating a dramatic

vocal point

As in music, complementary layers and/or effects can be joined to produce
a more attractive whole. The composition is complex, but everything appears
to fit with everything else. The whole is better than the sum of its parts.
Harmony Application:

In Eclectic design style: harmony will be seen when the mix and match
of design styles seems to merge into what seems right to the eye.

This can only be done by trial and error.

What works for you?

Asian Style will have an essence of harmony with its Zen-like application

Balance is the consideration of visual weight and importance. It is a way to
compare the right and left side of a composition.
There are three different types of Balance. Namely: Symmetrical balance,
Radial balance and Asymmetrical balance.

Symmetrical balance is achieved by creating a mirror effect. If you had
to fold your room or a section of your room in half, you would find that
the one side equals the other side. There is a strong sense of balance in
Symmetrical design as this brings an aspect of order, refinement and
Symmetrical Application:

Dining room table placed centrally in your room with the same number
of artworks on either opposite walls of a room. Artworks should be
spaced out evenly and positioned at the same height on either wall.

Two wingback chairs placed on either side of the fireplace in the

lounge area

A bedroom that has the same bedside pedestals on either side with
the same lampstand and shade. Cushions can also be mirrored that
are placed onto the bed surface.

Radial balance is not very common in room layout compositions. It is
like a daisy or sunflower with everything arranged around a centre.
Rose windows of cathedrals use this design system.

Radial balance applications:

x A circular dining room table with the same chairs radiating off from its
central point.
x A circular rug in the centre of the lounge/living area with 2 occasional
chairs and an occasional table between them

Asymmetrical balance occurs when both sides are similar in visual
weight but not mirrored. It has a more casual, dynamic, and relaxed
feeling so it is often called informal balance.
Asymmetrical applications:

Asymmetry can be achieved by seeing what looks correct to the

eye. You will know this by seeing if your room layout looks a bit off.
Image a weight scale, if there is too many things to one side, it will
seem too unbalanced. You room should try to maintain balance in
some way or another. For example. I can have a double seater sofa on
the one side of my room with 2 single seaters on the other side to
balance my space.

Some ways to use Repetition in a room are:

Size Variation
This form of repetition can apply to shape, form, etc. Notice how size
can affect how close or far something can appear to be from the
A way in which size variation can be achieved is by having one large
artwork on your wall and then having a combination of artworks
leading on from the first but at different sizes.
Another way of depicting size variation in repetition is by have different
sized tiles placed every now and then. (See sketch below)

Repetition can be used on all of the Visual Elements. If things are

repeated without any change they can quickly get boring. However,
repetition with variation can be both interesting and comfortably
familiar. Repetition gives motion.

Variation can be used with all of the visual elements. You can do this
with all the elements. Artists do this all the time.

Colour saturation, sometimes called "colour intensity" or brightness can

also give a feeling of depth and space.

Overlapping is often used by artists to create depth.

As a design principle, rhythm can be defined as the repetition of visual
patterns in space. Rhythm creates visual unity and movement, and leads the
eye, and mind, around the space. The repetition of structural elements
creates rhythm in three-dimensions. Just think, for example, of colonnades,
exposed ceiling beams, windows, stairwaysand how they create a sense of
movement and make the space interesting.
Applications of Rhythm:

A free flowing space that has points of interest

Non-cluttered space

This sometimes involves a repetition of some form in order to create the

rhythm. This repetition does not need to be equally spaced out


Proportion is the comparative harmonious relationship between two or

more elements in a composition with respect to size, colour, quantity,
degree, setting, etc.; i.e. ratio. A relationship is created when two or more
elements are put together in a painting. This relationship is said to be
harmonious when a correct or desirable relationship exists between the
elements. This refers to the correct sizing and distribution of an element or
object which creates good proportion. Good proportion adds harmony
and symmetry or balance among the parts of a design as a whole.

When the principle of proportion is applied it is usually in the relationship of

size. That is, the size of one element of the composition is compared to the
size of another related element. In the instance of a relationship of size a
comparison is made between the:

x height, width and depth of one element to that of another

x size of one area to the size of another area
x size of one element to the size of another element
x amount of space between two or more elements

Proportion is usually not even noticed until something is out of

proportion. When the relative size of two elements being compared
seems wrong or out of balance it is said to be "out of proportion". For
example if a person has a head larger than their entire body, then we
would say that they were out of proportion.

Scale can hide or expose, improve or worsen features, details, defects, etc.
Scale determines which parts of the whole take prominence. Altering the
scale alters the hierarchy of elements within an object. Scale determines the
readability and the recognisability of an object. Scale helps define the
boundaries between the observer and the observed. It is a frame. Scale
affects the user experience in a big way.
Scale applications:

Scale is similar to size variation in that it creates interest to the


Reference list
(Using the Harvard Referencing system)

Ashwell, R. 1996. Shabby Chic. Harper Collins: 31 July 1996

Edwards,C.2011.Interior design; a critical introduction (Page 48). Berg
Publishers: New York
Haslam,M.2000. Retro Style: the 50s look for todays home. Universe
Publishing. 02 Sept 2000.
Powers,R. 2010. Living Modern: The sourcebook of contemporary interiors.
Thames & Hudson Publishers.
Rossel,Q.2005. Minimalist interiors. Collins Design: 23 Aug 2005.
Walker,J.1992.Glossary of art, architecture and design since 1945(Page 1986)
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