Interior design is the art of creating better space within your home. Professionals spend years mastering the nuances and art of this discipline, yet anyone can apply some core fundamentals themselves. Focusing on colour, space, and ratio can help provide an easy-to-understand framework by which any home can be transformed effectively into a more harmonious and rewarding experience. This article looks at each concept individually and then examines unique ways to apply them to individual rooms.
Getting to the Core of Design
Interior design is a field rife with personal preference and subjectivity. Even the most seasoned designers might fail to deliver in a way their clients expect. The best explanation I can give for this is a lack of cadence between expectation and possibility. That’s to say; many non-designers aren’t aware of all the possibilities while many designers aren’t fully aware of their client’s expectations. It’s always going to be an issue to get everyone on the same page, but there are some core aspects of design are translatable to any project.
Use of Colour
Colours help bring rooms together and help to make one’s design intent more palpable. Just as it’s easy to leave a room feeling to bland, it’s also easy to go overboard and leave a room feeling a bit too intense. Separating rooms into two colour options—base colour and accent colour—can help simplify things considerably. A good (and safe!) approach is to separate permanent and semi-permanent features such as walls, floors, and furniture into one colour category and other items like table dressings, hanging pictures, and rugs into another. A common approach is to use neutral tones such as beiges, whites, and greys on the permanent things and colourful accents on the stuff that can change. This approach lets you make a statement while also giving you the flexibility to change it quickly!
Having an open floor plan isn’t an option or a preference for everyone. Walls and ceiling get a lot of attention when discussing “space,” but they are only one part of a larger strategy. Other ways to add space to rooms are by decluttering wall space, limiting the use of area rugs, and—of course—by hanging mirrors. Sometimes replacing ten smaller pictures on a wall with a single large piece of artwork can bring a tremendous presence to the room while also making things seem a bit more spacious. This concept can be hard to grasp at first. A general rule of thumb is that when presented with the option, using fewer numbers of things helps create the perception of more space—even if more actual space gets taken up! Changing two love seats and a couch for a sectional is a good example, as is exchanging 2 area rugs in a room for a single gigantic area rug.
The observance of harmony in any aspect of life is an art form and holds true in interior design as much as in architecture, musical composition, or even painting. The spaces, colours, and objects in your home all resonate together to produce a single song. Changing a wall colour from white to deep red will change the feel of your room just like adding a saxophone to a rock and roll song will likely change the entire mood of that song! Considering such changes from a perspective of ratios can help provide a framework for creating better harmony. Like one might use 1-part egg and three parts flour to create the ideal biscuit, using 1 part furniture and three parts open wall space might create the ideal media centre. That’s to say; having a wall unit take up one-third of the total space of the wall behind it might create a more harmonious feeling in the room than if a larger unit were used to take up half the available wall space. While no one can dictate which ratios will be most harmonious in your home, using similar ratios throughout different rooms can help create a larger sense of uniform harmony throughout your home!
Putting Theory to Work
Consideration of colour, space, and ratio can be used as a framework to design your home’s interior, though each requires an application. Just like a hammer won’t build your house until it starts swinging, colours and space won’t start creating harmony until you decide where and how to apply them! There are plenty of rules that designers follow in their work to create harmonious spaces but sometimes breaking a rule can produce the more impressive results. Don’t be afraid to take risks and break the rules—but always have a plan. Only using the Pantone colour of the year conservatively, as an accent colour, is a pretty good rule though! Below are some room-specific examples of how to apply these concepts of design to help get you started.
We spent an often unrecognised amount of time in our bedrooms. If you’re getting your 8 hours each night, then you’re spending at least a third of your life there! In this sense of ratio, time is the factor you’re looking to address. Since you spent so much of your daily time in your bedroom and bed, it’s a good idea to allocate more budget here. Your bed should make you smile, and your mattress should work to rejuvenate you each morning. Read this article on mattress selection to get a better idea on how to approach this—such consideration is beyond our discussion here. The concept of devoting your budget towards the areas in your home that have the largest amount of influence over your daily life is what we’re after here. The bedroom is where you spend most of your time each day—albeit unconscious time—and your overall focus should reflect that!
Kitchens & Dining Rooms
Depending on the layout of your home your kitchen and dining room may or may not be connected. For single open spaces it’s easy to recognise that your design intent should be similar but for kitchens and dining rooms separated by walls and doors, this isn’t always apparent. Using colours to create a connection between these rooms is great, even if the accent colour of your dining room is the base colour of your kitchen! Pairing a kitchen that has yellow walls, filled with stainless steel appliances, with a dining room, having a grey wall and bright yellow paintings, is a great example of such a connective strategy. Kitchen space is also a tricky approach sometimes—there’s a lot of potential clutter. Having ample storage space to keep things off countertops is an essential consideration here.
Depending on your lifestyle you likely find yourself spending a considerable amount of time in your living room each week. Like the bedroom, this serves as an example of putting your design budget towards those areas most influential on your daily experience. Strong colours should be on living room walls if the time you spend, there is typically active and energetic. If the time spent here is relaxing and recovering from your day at work, consider more neutral and unimposing colours. Consolidating seating by replacing sofas and armchair combos with sectionals is a great way to create extra space. Another great way to create a better sense of space is to cluster dozens of photographs you may have in the room. Rather than having 3-4 pictures on the top of each surface or different shelves, consider hanging them all together in a tight group on one wall! By holding space, colour, and balance in mind you can create incredible experiences regardless of how limited your budget or room options might be!
The impressions our home make on us have great influence on the quality of our daily lives. Working to create a space which helps support your happiness will have a lasting impact and is worth devoting much consideration. There are countless ways to approach the interior design of your home but having a general framework to help guide you can relieve much of the uncertainty. Consideration of colour, space, and ratios will take you a long way on your journey to make a better home for yourself and your family.
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