Welcome to Day 1 of my interior design how to basics design course. I’m Shiree and I’ve been an interior designer for over twenty years. I’ve owned five design stores, written a newspaper design column and an online column. I’ve participated in various fundraising design events over the years and I’ve written this blog for many years, to many to remember!
Let’s get started with the design course and get you some great lessons to help you create a home that supports and inspires you daily.
design, architecture and art are visual fields and the language we use to
describe them is often subjective.
there is terminology used in the professions of architecture and design and
there are explanations as to why a space appeals to you. It’s not only a matter
of personal taste or the styles you’ve been exposed to, though that has a lot
to do with it too. It’s also because it employs principles and elements of
design that we as individuals are naturally attracted to, somewhat like the
attraction we feel towards water and fire.
to college design textbook “Inside Today’s Home” by LuAnn Nissen, the elements
of design are space, form, line, texture, light and color while the principles
of design are balance (symmetrical, asymmetrical and radial), rhythm
(repetition, progression, transition and contrast), emphasis, scale/proportion
and harmony (unity and variety). These terms provide designers with a vocabulary
for various elements of design, as well as an explanation as to how and why the
elements work together.
An interior space is created simply by putting walls together to form an enclosure
but there are appealing and unappealing enclosures. An architect or designer
controls and improves a space by using certain design elements to achieve a
sense of spaciousness, or the opposite of spaciousness: intimacy.
are many ways to increase the feeling of spaciousness in a space such as
keeping furniture and accessories to a minimum; using small scale furniture and
textile patterns; selecting colors that are cool and light with little or no
contrast; placing furniture close to and paralleling walls; use of windows; and
using mirrors to create reflected space.
create feelings of intimacy or “coziness”, you can subdivide the space by
placing furnishings perpendicular to the walls to form “room dividers”; use
warm, dark colors; and choose varying heights of furniture to obstruct the
views around the room.
and shape- Forms and shapes fall into three basic categories: rectilinear,
angled or curved lines that become the geometric shapes of the square,
triangle, circle, or in solid form, the cube, pyramid, sphere, cone and
cylinder. In design, these shapes serve as the basis for buildings as well as
the products that go in them. Not every shape can be identified as one of these
shapes obviously, but every shape contains at least one of these basic
In design, line usually describes the outline of a shape or space but it also
attributes to our perceptions of masculinity, femininity, playfulness, or
austerity depending on the line’s direction, angularity or amount of curve.
lines evoke feelings of formality and aspirations. Horizontal lines are restful
and informal and are often used in contemporary designs; diagonal lines are
active and dynamic and suggest upward or downward movement; small curved lines
are playful; and wide, horizontal curves suggest gentle, relaxed movement. Line
is seen in the lofty height of a vaulted entrance, or the low and restful,
horizontal surface of a bed.
Smooth or rough, texture describes the tactile feel or appearance of the
surface of an object like stone, mohair or chenille fabrics, or a woven basket.
Texture can be ornamental; it can absorb or amplify sound; and is a factor in
the maintenance of an object. The shiny surface of a glass table is easier to
clean but shows every little smudge. The rough surface of a stone hearth shows
little dirt but is harder to clean.
Light is important to our physical and psychological responses. It affects our
mood and can change the appearance of our surroundings. The style of your
home’s architecture will play a part in the amount of indoor light you have.
Spanish Revival style is known for romantic, nuanced light play. Modern architecture
with its wide expanses of glass brings the outdoors inside. Each has a
prominent place in design but aging is a factor in all of us. If you are
planning your forever home, plan one with plenty of natural light.
amount of natural light a home has is subject to design trends. Today’s
homeowner seems to prefer a light filled home. Skylights and solar tubes have
been a boon to many dark and dreary interiors.
Color is a powerful design tool. The various theories about color are based on
art, science and psychology. To accurately describe a color you would refer to
the terms hue, the actual name of the color; value, the lightness or darkness
of a color; and intensity, how pure versus how muted or grayed the color is.
are primary hues, secondary hues and tertiary hues. Primary hues are colors
that can’t be mixed. They are primary red, yellow and blue. Secondary hues are
mixtures of primary colors: orange, green, and violet. Tertiary hues are
mixtures of secondary hues. Combinations of harmonious colors include
monochromatic, which is based on various values and intensities of one hue;
analogous, which is based on two or more hues that are next to one another on
the color wheel; and complementary, which is based on colors directly opposite
one another on the color wheel.
to color is highly subjective. Each comes with its own personality and/or
stigma attached. For instance, yellow can be sunny for some of us, or signify
cowardice for others. Pink is a pretty, feminine color that some love and
other’s find cloying. Black can be classy or morose. White can be pristine and
bright or overly sterile. Red can be vibrant and classic or it can be cheap and
gauche. The affect depends on the context in which the color is used, what it’s
placed next to, and the individual’s emotion towards it. And sometimes it’s
based on effective branding, such as the green of a Starbuck’s logo or the
orange packaging of luxury brand Hermes’.
On Wednesday we’ll go over the principals of design. Stay tuned!
And hey, if you want to, oh I don’t know, take some action around here? Then get my free download Healthy at Home: the interior design and wellness workbook and learn the how to’s of putting a great room together with actionable steps and timelines to get you motivated!