Essential Guide to Mastering the Basics of Interior Design

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By Daniela Klein

Updated: Feb 09, 2024

8 min read

Basics of Interior Design

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    In interior design, you must grasp key principles and concepts to craft a well-put-together and stylish space. Every detail, from colours to furniture layout, matters. The aim is to reflect styles and cater needs, understanding the vision and using expertise to bring it to life.

    The concepts in interior design are essential guidelines, including balance, harmony, rhythm, proportion, emphasis, contrast, and details. These rules apply to any room in your home, ensuring functionality and aesthetics from the living room to the bathroom.

    What is the Role of Balance in the Basics of Interior Design?

    In design, balance gives the impression of equilibrium. This concept revolves around the visual aspect, involving the even distribution of furniture and decor to ensure a balanced look in a room. Achieving balance requires careful consideration of where elements are positioned, analysing line, shape, colour, and texture. There are three balance types: formal, informal, and radial.

    Formal Balance

    Formal Balance in Interior Designing

    Traditional or formal rooms require symmetrical balance, which is the art of mirroring and matching each side of a room. Designing and placing chairs on either side of a coffee table is described as symmetrically balanced.

    This type of formal balance is simple to achieve since design features are duplicated on both sides. This technique is also known as the mirror effect.

    Informal Balance

    Informal Balance Interior Designing

    The visual weights of lines, colours, forms, and textures are balanced without requiring exact duplication. Placing a sofa can be balanced by placing two chairs on the other side.

    Informal balance is not as ordered as symmetrical balance and can be more complex and exciting.

    Radial Balance

    Radial Balance in interior designing

    Radial balance is achieved when there is a central focal point with other elements radiating from or around it. Placing a round dining table, with chairs arranged around it.

    There is a lot of repetition of form, texture, and colour.

    Integrating Harmony in Your Interior Design

    Integration of different elements and creating a harmony between them  is a significant feature of house design.

    Every furnishing, style, and decoration item must work together to create a cohesive whole. The combined cohesion and uniformity of all the design elements give your interior design its beauty. You must constantly remember that patterns, hues, texture, and so on should have a smooth flow throughout the project. Otherwise, the individual items in the space will clash and look out of place.

    Harmony in Interior Design

    The concept of harmony is coordinating objects and colours in a space to convey a sense of integrated design. There is harmony when all the things in a room collaborate around a theme or style. Harmony can be created using various methods, such as grouping furniture together, using similar colours and textures, or making a focal point.

    Utilising harmony in interior design produces a welcoming and unified space. The secret to achieving harmony is to strike the appropriate balance among all the elements.

    Creating a Rhythm in Your Interior Design

    Rhythm in Your Interior Design

    If you were to analyse a piece of music, you would describe its rhythmic pattern. The same concept applies to interior design, creating rhythm through the visual repetition of form. When decorating your homes, you should think about arranging elements in a way there is repetition, progression, transition, or contrast. By applying these visual mechanisms, you can direct someone’s attention around the space and ultimately enhance the overall impression of the room.

    The Basics of Interior Design by Scaling and Proportions

    The concept of proportion and scale is the ideal approach to generate a sense of belonging among objects in a room.

    Things must be in balance with each other and the space, whether it’s size, shape, form, or colour. The importance of this principle is understanding how to use the surrounding area, whether it be a large or small room.

    Proportion is the relationship between two items, and scale is the way that one object’s size relates to another. For example, a huge, overstuffed sectional in a tiny space will be out of proportion. A small coffee table in front of two enormous sofas might appear misplaced and lost.

    Interior Design by Scaling and Proportions

    The Greek ancients discovered the secret to proportions – The Golden Ratio. This formula makes all proportions more pleasing by reducing them to a simple equation giving a perfectly symmetrical relationship between two proportions. This proportion is found in nature and is frequently used by artists and architects.

    Enhancing visual appeal within a space can be effortlessly achieved by manipulating scale, which denotes the proportional connection between object sizes and the spatial dimensions.

    To add excitement without going overboard, try combining ordinary items with pieces of different heights and dimensions, such as art or greenery.

    Accent is the Basics of Interior Design

    Interior design emphasises the use of an attention-grabbing accent such as a colour, component, texture or pattern in a room. A room without focus is forgettable and boring. The principle of emphasis that one object in the room is chosen as the centre of attention around which the rest of the decoration revolves. Radial balance works on this principle and helps draw attention to the chosen focal point of the room.

    Highlighting a specific element in a room, like a fireplace, furniture, or artwork, serves as a focal point for your design. Once chosen, the entire room should be designed to complement this feature. Utilising colour is a  method for emphasis, as bold colours attract attention. Painting a designated area with an intense colour effectively highlights it.

    Accent is the Basics of Interior Design

    Patterns, whether bold or subtle, can also create accents. Additionally, texture is a useful tool for creating highlights in your design. A rough texture stands out more than a smooth one. So, if you want to highlight a certain area, using a textured finish like plaster or brick can be an effective way to do it.

    The principle of accent is applicable to both compact and spacious rooms. Small spaces benefit from a focal point to enhance cohesion, while larger areas offer more flexibility to incorporate diverse elements and establish multiple points of interest. Nevertheless, an excess of focal points can be overwhelming, leading to up to untidy  appearance. Keep in mind to have a balanced focal point giving you a unique and attractive space.

    Incorporating a Contrast in Your Basics of Interior Design

    Creating contrast in a room can be achieved through various methods, with colour being a prominent option. Combining light and dark or warm and cool hues can produce a striking visual impact. Additionally, contrast can be introduced through texture, pattern, and scale. It's crucial to exercise restraint, as excessive contrast may overwhelm and result in a chaotic appearance.

    Contrast in Interior Design

    Achieving a balanced contrast is essential for crafting a pleasant and harmonious space. Skillfully applied, contrast enhances visual interest and when done right, gives an  excitement into a room. Take a moment to assess your home, identifying opportunities to incorporate well-placed accents that can transform the ambiance of a space. Enjoy the thinking for your basic interior design.

    The Fundamental Concept in Interior Design is Focusing on Details

    A room lacks a sense of cohesion and personalization without the right finishing touches. The exciting part is that anyone, not just professional interior designers, can incorporate these details.

    Focusing on Details in Interior Design

    This  step empowers you to showcase your individual style and tailor the space to reflect your specific interests. Personal touches and  attention to small details contribute to the uniqueness of a room, allowing you to craft a space that truly feels like yours.

    Crafting Your Mood and Personality in Your Home Interior Design

    The ambiance of a space is shaped by factors such as colour choices, furniture style, texture, and patterns. Crafting a mood involves thoughtful consideration, and selecting an inspiration piece such as a decorative pillow, a cherished scarf, or a magazine photo which can add fun and intrigue to your decorating project.

    Key elements in establishing a mood include analysing the inspiration piece, naming a theme, coordinating colours, incorporating patterns, managing texture, and ensuring furniture aligns with the overall theme.

    Mood and Personality in Your Home Interior Design

    For a cohesive look, choose three colours- a dominant background colour, a secondary colour for fabrics and accessories, and an accent colour for energy. Patterns, such as stripes or flowers, should align with the theme, and texture should vary to maintain interest.

    Furniture should not only be functional but should also complement the chosen theme to create a harmonious atmosphere. Leave your mark by embracing the essence of an interior design by incorporating items like pictures, vases, cushions, and rugs. While these elements generally align with your theme, there's room for flexibility. For instance, an antique picture frame can introduce a delightful twist to a modern setting.

    Accessories span walls, ceilings, furniture, tabletops, and floors, encompassing paintings, photographs, or even pillows add to your mood and personality.

    DIY-  How to Interior Design Your Home

    Step 1

    Create a focal point in every room to which the eye is naturally drawn.

    Step 2

    Choose a wall that will become the focal point of the room. This doesn't mean you just paint one wall differently.

    Step 3

    The focal point can be a fireplace, oversized artwork, oak plywood, a wall of windows with floor-to-ceiling curtains, or anything that needs attention.

    Step 4

    Visual balance is important when designing a room. Whether you want a formal symmetry or informal asymmetry, decide on.

    • Think of it as a swing. You need equal weights on both ends of the swing to stay balanced. If one side of the room has a lot of heavy furniture, the other side of the room would simply feel unbalanced with the chair. If one side of the room has a lot of wood, the other side also needs wood features to balance the visual weight.

    Step 5

    Choose a paint colour for your walls as per your creative power and that lifts the overall appearance of your home. Blending colours with each other is a good option for designing your home.

    • Test paint patches by ordering samples and paint them on your wall. This is the perfect way to get an accurate idea of ​​the colour and repaint it in the room.

    Step 6

    The rug or carpet is a very important part in designing your room.

    • In your dining space,  place the rug that is big enough to cover all the furniture over it.
    • In your bedroom, if you are placing the rug then it must be 24-36”.
    • In your living space, the front legs of your furniture should sit on your furniture.

    Step 7

    Curtains are favorite ways to decorate a room. It's an easy way to add warmth and glamour to a room.Some points you should think before choosing the curtains.

    • The curtain must be at least 4-6”above the window frame.
    • It elongates your walls, creating the illusion of higher ceilings.
    • Curtains must reach the floor. Avoid a short curtain situation.

    Step 8

    When hanging art above furniture, place it about 6-8 inches above the furniture. The goal is to make it feel connected to the objects below it.

    • When hanging art on a blank wall, the centre of the art should hang about 57-60" from the floor.
    • If connecting more than one frame, hang them 3-4" separately. Keeping the frames close helps the eye to see the entire art as a whole.
    • If you hang art above furniture, it should fill 2/3 of the width of the furniture below.

    With keeping these basics of interior design you can design your home as per your liking and thoughts totally by yourself.


    A well-stylish indoor space not only serves its purpose effectively but also establishes a unique ambiance. Ensuring a good stylish interior involves some basics of interior design concepts that should be crucial and needs to be followed while planning to design your home.


    Can I Do Interior Design Myself?

    Yes, you can design your home by yourself by your creativity keeping in mind the functionality, mood and personality to craft into your home interiors.

    What Are the Basics of Interior Design?

    The basics of interior design are - Balance, harmony, rhythm, proportion and scale, accent, contrast and details.

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