How many people do you know that can combine furniture, accessories, fabric and color together and make it look great? When asked how they did it these people respond in an off-hand manner, “I don’t know. It just came together.” This is called intuition and sometimes it works for people and sometimes it doesn’t. A person may know the simple elements of design such as color, pattern, texture and form but they do not know about the principles of design such as scale, proportion, line, balance, harmony and rhythm. Finding these principles are the first steps in creating a small space that looks and feels wonderful.
Finding Scale & Proportion
What is scale and proportion? Within the interior design world scale is referred to as the size of an object compared with the size of everything else in the room (people, other objects, or the space in which the object is placed). Proportion is referred to the relationship of parts or objects to one another based on size. The principle of scale and proportion pertain to all items in the room. These items are architectural elements (windows, doors, moldings) to furniture and accessories. To get a good outcome with scale and proportion each one of these objects should be scaled within the room and proportional to the other objects within the same room. An example of scale and proportion would be if you bought a grand piano and tried to place it within a small room. The grand piano would take over the small space and nothing else would be a focal point. Therefore taking away from the architectural design of the space. Plus the grand piano would make all other objects in the room feel tiny. Another example of this scale and proportion principle would be a dainty coffee table placed in front of a bulky sofa. The coffee table would diminish and the focus would be on the sofa. People should have no trouble recognizing that certain elements in the room are too small or too large for an item but just in case a person should look through magazines and seeing professionals work to kind of help them along to find just the right scale and proportion.
Lines defines spaces. Two dimensional spaces consists of the flat surfaces such as walls, floors and ceilings. The walls, floors and ceilings are formed by intersecting lines. When a person starts adding depth or volume to these two dimensional spaces, that forms the three dimensional feeling a person gets when they enter a room. However, lines do more than just define the spaces, they can also suggest various qualities about a room. For instance, a vertical line implies strength and dignity and creates a formal atmosphere whereas a curved line suggests freedom, softness and sensuality. When a person decorates with lines that person must incorporate a variety of lines within their small space. For example, the architectural shape is a rectangular shape so to mix it up throw in some curved lines and to make the room feel taller add some vertical lines.
The balance within a room refers to the equilibrium among objects in a room. A balanced room gives careful consideration to the placement of objects in accordance with their visual weight. With a well balanced room relationships between the objects will seem natural to the eye, therefore creating a visual bliss of equilibrium. For example, having two picture frames of the same height will be pleasing to the eye because one is not larger than the other. There are two approaches to creating balance within a room: symmetrical (same arrangement of parts, objects or forms on both sides of an imagined center line–mirror image approach) and asymmetrical (use of different objects of the same visual weight to create the equilibrium.)
Establishing Harmony and Rhythm
With these two principles the concern is focused on creating patterns in small spaces. Harmony results from elements work together to form a visually pleasing cohesiveness. Harmony is best achieved when all the elements within a room relate to one another or coordinates within one color scheme. This does not mean that a person has to match one single color in every single way because that could get boring and bring forth no life to the space. Combine several patterns such as florals, stripes and checks as long as they are related to the same color scheme.
Rhythm often refers to the continuity or lack thereof that creates stimulating design (more specifically through repetitions of line, form, color, patterns or textures). If harmony can pull a room together, then rhythm makes the eye move around the room to follow the colors, textures, patterns and shapes. This works because a particular color is emphasized and played to bring life to the space. Rhythm is an affective tool when designing a small space because it can make the room appear to be larger than it actually is. Rhythm and harmony can move the eye around peacefully creating a visually peaceful serenity.
These are just the basics of creating a wonderful looking small space. Remember that a person does not have to be a professional interior designer, they just have to follow the basic principles of design. Also remember that to get the hang of all of these principles look in magazines and see how well the professionals put together a room. Then practice. After all, practice makes perfect.