6 Essential Elements of Interior Design

By: Home Made Simple
The ABCs of Interior Design
Choose the right color to begin your redesign.
Courtesy of Homemadesimple.com

Interior decorating can seem like a daunting task, especially for those of us that don't know chintz from crewel. Fear not, even the most fledgling designer has hope. These simple and inexpensive tips will guide you through the d├ęcor essentials and turn those pre-design jitters into a resounding success.

The first principle of design is a very simple one: Go with what you like and what makes you comfortable! This is your living space, and there is no point having a beautifully decorated home if you and your family feel like strangers in it.


1. Figure Out Function

The next questions to ask yourself about any room regard use. Who will use the room? How will the room be used? Thinking about these two basic questions can help you decide what kind of flooring to have, for example-will there be lots of traffic through this room? Will food and drink be allowed in this room on a regular basis? What kinds of activities will take place in this room? Will kids and/or pets be in this room on a regular basis?


2. Commit to Color

Choosing colors is often the most difficult decision when it's time to decorate a room. Generally, professional decorators work with the "three-color" principle: one neutral color and two accent colors (usually one dark and the other light). Some people start with wall color (whether with paint or wallpaper) and build on that (the idea being that walls provide the "backdrop" for the room). Others start with one piece of furniture (something large, like a sofa) and build on that (making it the "centerpiece" of the room's decorating scheme). Also, lighter colors can make a room seem larger and cooler, while darker colors tend to shrink a space and to feel warmer.


3. Select Furniture that Fits

Speaking of furniture, the questions about use are important to ask when you make any decisions about purchasing or recovering. Another issue to consider is how much sunlight it will be exposed to (a darkly upholstered sofa placed in a very sunny spot will begin to fade). When thinking about color, especially for large pieces, consider this: It's easier and much less expensive to change a room's look with accent pieces (pillows, throws, etc.) or a new coat of paint if the main pieces of furniture are in solid or tone-on-tone fabrics.


4. Proper Positioning

How to arrange furniture is also sometimes a difficult issue; it can be hard to envision how and where pieces will look best and also be their most functional (again, think of traffic patterns through the room, whether you want to create a conversation area, etc.). Save frustration and an aching back from frequent furniture rearrangement by doing what the pros do: Make a template of the room and all the pieces you want to fit in it. Try different arrangements of pieces until you arrive at the perfect combination.


5. Window Embellishments

Window treatments also merit careful thought. Don't just think about color-consider functional issues: How much light and privacy do you want the room to have? Is the view outside the window one you want to see or block out?

Valence window treatments can enhance your home's interior style. Transform old valences by using existing fabrics and batting from existing cornices. Try attaching a framed mirror to the wooden frame with hinges so it can be tilted up slightly to show off dramatic paint colors in the ceiling.


6. Alluring Accents

Accent pieces, artwork, and accessories may seem like decorating luxuries, but they can do a lot to make a room personal and inviting. Additionally, small pieces can be used to change the look of a room without a lot of fuss or expense. They can also be used very effectively to disguise a room's flaws; for example, a small room can be made to seem larger with a well-placed mirror, or with a painting that has depth.

Even when decorating a small area, like an entryway, accent pieces can be useful for showcasing your style and personality as soon as guests walk through your door.


Another important principle for any room, but especially small ones, is to eliminate clutter-clutter makes a space seem small and crowded; a room also looks cleaner if there is some empty space.