Style the Home Right with These Interior Design Principles! (2023)


Several different interior design styles can be used to revamp your home and furnishings for a new look. However, the art of interior designing demands that equal importance be given to all seven principles of interior design, along with creating a balance between the seven different elements of interior design. Let’s discover the basic principles of interior design in this post to create a harmonious living space.

Understanding the 7 Principles of Interior Design

Part of the syllabus of every interior designer, the seven principles of design that they must adhere to are:

  1. Balance
  2. Emphasis
  3. Contrast
  4. Rhythm
  5. Scaling
  6. Details
  7. Harmony

One of the primary benefits of hiring an interior designer is that they will be able to balance and harmonize all of the necessary elements and principles of interior design in your space for a cohesive and impactful result. But even if you have an expert at hand, you should be aware of the basic interior design principles, so that you can brainstorm on the design of your living spaces accordingly.

Let’s discuss each of these principles in detail below for a better understanding of what they encompass.


Style the Home Right with These Interior Design Principles! (1)

Proper distribution of objects around a room creates a visual balance that makes the interior seem more appealing to the eye. This interior design principle considers the visual weight of the objects according to their shape, colour, texture, or pattern. Even an object as light as a pillow can be quite heavy on the eyes if it is misplaced, or heavily adorned with textures and patterns. Creating balance in a room is also about adding equal weight to both sides of the room. This can be done using physical objects as well as by blending a range of interior design elements into the space.

Balance can generally be created in three ways:

Symmetrical Balance

Symmetrical balance is the most pleasing to the eye and is the easiest to create in traditional styles of interior. It is commonly chosen for square rooms, as you can easily divide the room into two equal sides or halves. Then, matching sets of sofas, chairs, beds, and consoles, or similar patterns and colours are used to match one side of the room to the other. However, since matching design elements are used on both sides of the room, this kind of balance can become boring and dull.


Placing a sofa on either side of a table, placing the same vases on either side of a mirror on the side console, and placing the same light fixtures directly opposite one another on either side of the room, are a few common examples of symmetrical balance.

Asymmetrical Balance

If you want to design a modern interior, achieving an asymmetrical balance is a more practical approach. In this design strategy, we focus on balancing the visual weight of the objects on one side of the room with other objects of similar shape or form on the other side. Think of it as balancing the placement of a sofa on one side with the placement of two chairs on the other. Any number of objects can be added to your room to attain asymmetrical balance.

The slight freedom of not decorating in sets or pairs makes this design style more interesting but it can be difficult to seemingly balance two completely different objects on either side of the room while keeping the room visually pleasing. Ensure that both objects have similar sizes, colours, or patterns to maintain asymmetrical balance easily.

Radial Balance

Very rarely heard of and even rarely used, radial balance deals with the presence of curved structures in the interior, including staircases, circular dining tables, chandeliers, and more. Radial balance aims to create circular symmetry with a common focal point in the room, placed in the centre, and other items radiating out from it and directing the eye only inwards or outwards in a circular pattern. Repetitions of curves, patterns, and colours are commonly found in this design, such as the way a circular dining table, with a circular chandelier above it and chairs all around it, grabs the attention as soon as you enter the room.


Style the Home Right with These Interior Design Principles! (2)

Emphasising something means especially calling attention to a word or a phrase when we are talking to another individual. Similarly, in home décor, you are conversing with your guests using your style of décor. You need to direct where their focus will be when they walk into a room.

A living space that has no focal point can seem scattered rather than cohesive and harmonious. To rectify this and anchor your design to its space, you can add a large piece of furnishing, decorative false ceilings, a framed artwork, or even a stunning indoor fountain to make it the centrepiece and focal point of your room.

In simpler terms, the design principle of emphasis concerns itself with the need for a focal point in every room. There needs to be one object or architectural feature that draws attention when you enter the room. Fireplaces, both real and fake, also perform the same function, aside from providing warmth and adding to the aesthetics of the interior.

There are two methods to create emphasis and draw attention to an object or feature of the room:

Emphasis Using Strategic Placement

Placing large furniture pieces directly opposite the door to the room is one successful way of creating an impact and emphasising the object which needs to be the centre of attention. This method is often followed in bedrooms and dining rooms, by placing a bed or a dining table in front of the door, respectively. In such a case, the placement of the furnishing emphasises its importance.

Emphasis Using Interior Design Elements

Alternately, you can use a combination of interior design elements like form, light, texture, colour, and patterns to divert the eye towards something that may not be placed directly opposite the door but is catchy and interesting enough to attract attention as soon as you walk in. A photo wall, an amazing view through glass sliding doors, a mosaic-tiled wall feature, and a fireplace are just some of the focal points commonly used in homes. They can be further emphasised using both placement of furniture, as well as attractive colours, textures, or lighting.

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Style the Home Right with These Interior Design Principles! (3)

One of the most commonly understood and used principles of interior design, contrast means using two colours, forms, or textures that differ strikingly from one another in such a manner that they complement each other to create a stunning interior as a whole. The most common example of this is monochrome décor, where black and white are colours that are complete opposites of one another, and yet, when used together, create a jarringly beautiful result.

Contrast can be created in any interior using the following methods:

Contrasting with Colours

Creating a colour contrast in living spaces is quite common. Aside from the monochrome style, we often see a play of lighter and darker hues of the same colour within a space, as well as light colours contrasted with dark colours for an eye-catching appeal. Ideally, you should use two colours from the opposite ends of the colour spectrum to bring about the most striking contrasts.

Colour contrasts are not only ideal for wall paints though. You can use them for small detailed touches as well, particularly if you have a neutral wall paint that can act as the perfect backdrop for a pop of colour. You can add small colour contrasts using colourful throw pillow covers, rugs, curtains, light fixtures, and decorative pieces.

Contrasting with Forms

The design element of form or shape can also be used to create contrast. You can play around with shapes like, rectangles, squares, circles, and ovals, to create a mix of rounded, smooth, and angled corners within a room that helps the eye travel fluently across the room. A common example of this is the use of an oval mirror on top of a rectangular console that is very pleasing to the eye due to its contrast, despite being a fairly overused style.

Contrasting with Textures

The feel of various materials around the room also dictates how welcoming it will be. A combination of different textures can be used to ensure that the room remains warm and welcoming without being overly stuffy. A mix of rough and smooth textures delivers the best results. Velvet couches with net curtains and textured wallpapers bring great variety into a single space, with the velvet making the room look and feel cosier, the net keeping the space light and airy, and the wallpapers adding a formal tone and setting the room apart from others in the house.

Contrasting with Materials

No home is complete without a mix of materials within its interior. Wood, glass, steel, chrome, stone, plastic, and fabric are some of the raw materials used to create furnishings and each of these materials looks and feels completely different from the other. This gives way to stunning contrasts of wooden floorings and furniture with steel and chrome decorative pieces in the living room or tiled floors with stone countertops and wooden cabinetry in the kitchen.


Style the Home Right with These Interior Design Principles! (4)

Rhythm dictates the line of sight through a room. As is the case in music, rhythm is all about creating flowing patterns with repetitions, transitions, and progressions that end up creating an amazing aesthetic indoors. Rhythm can be created using the same colours, same materials, same shapes, or even by a progression of smaller to bigger furnishings as you move around the room.

There are three ways to create rhythm in interior design:

Rhythm via Repetition

Repetitive rhythms are easy to create with the same colour echoed in a throw pillow, a rug, and a frame on the wall. Aside from colour, you can repeat the use of the same textiles or the placement of similar objects around the room. But use repetition with care, as nobody wants to listen to the same soundtrack on an endless loop all day!

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Rhythm via Progression

Progressing through the room in terms of shapes, sizes, or colours is also one way to bring a rhythmic feel to the interior. You can begin by placing small to large decorative objects in a room that ultimately lead to the grand focal piece. Progression is also possible with a play of light and colours. Use darker tones as you head deeper into the room with lighter colours welcoming you at the entrance. Alternatively, a bright entrance can lead you to a dimmer and cosier living room, pulling you towards it like a sanctuary.

Rhythm via Transition

Transitions are harder to achieve within an interior, as it means creating a flow of lines that the eye can follow to jump from one point to another in the room. It is often incorporated as a gentle guide for the eye to move with the flow of the lines and the furnishings to reach a focal point. Arches, modern curved furnishings, scenic windows, and curved staircases all play a part in creating transitions in a space.


Style the Home Right with These Interior Design Principles! (5)

The principle of scaling refers to both scale and proportion of objects in comparison to the room itself. Small furnishings in a spacious room feel dwarfed by the dimensions of empty spaces, while bulky furniture in a small room can overcrowd it to a point that it becomes unbearable.

Thus, there are two concepts to understand here:

The Concept of Scaling

Scale refers to the size of objects within an interior space. It dictates that the size and dimensions must be known for sure to scale the décor inside any room. Some architectural elements and furniture have a standard scale, such as the height of a dining table, the height of walls in any home, the amount of space needed to place a shower cabinet without cramping the bathroom, and so on. A balance must be created between the size of the objects decorating a room and the dimensions of the room itself.

The Concept of Proportion

In contrast, proportion refers to a comparison of sizes of two objects that are placed side by side in the same room. A tall chair next to a low coffee table, a clock hung too high on the wall for a standard ceiling, or a tiny frame on a completely bare wall on one side of the room looks out of place to the eye. Thus, proportion is all about decorating the room for visual appeal, keeping the placement of objects with regards to size and functionality in mind.

The Golden Ratio of Interior Design

The Golden Ratio of scale and proportion that is handed down from the Greeks is abundantly present in nature and decorating a home with this ratio makes it aesthetically pleasing because this is something that we naturally connect with. It is the rules of two-thirds or 2:3. This means that each room needs to be divided into two parts and the larger part should be two-thirds of the overall room. Ultimately, two-thirds of the room can then be designated to large furnishings, while the rest should have complementary but comparatively smaller pieces to complete the décor.

Similarly, every piece of furnishing then needs to follow the same ratio. In a living room, your largest sofa should be no bigger than two-thirds of the room, the coffee table should not be longer than two-thirds of that sofa, and the decorative pieces placed on the coffee table should measure about two-thirds of the surface area of the table. This rule aligns every following addition made into the room according to the 2:3 measurement, creating scale and proportion that is visually appealing.


Style the Home Right with These Interior Design Principles! (6)

From fabrics, patterns, and textures to embellishments that make your décor look prettier, many small details work hand in hand to create the perfect appeal in your room. What’s more, subtle touches often make more of an impact than the larger focal pieces, such as a crystal chandelier over an ornately carved dining table that adds to the luxurious feel of the interior, the trimmings on a pillow cover that bring softness to the bedroom, the decorative and tinted switch plates that complement the colour scheme of the room, and more.

Why Do Small Details Matter?

Small details hold importance in interior design. You must look beyond the obvious to the finer details on fabrics, the textures, the colour schemes, and the furnishings to determine how they fit into your current space. Some examples are of a wallpaper pattern that matches the upholstery, wooden furniture legs that match the colour of the coffee table, a large clock with a glass face on the wall that connects with the glass tabletops, and so on.

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Remember that details must connect to one another in the design to avoid a chaotic and cluttered space. If you look at a room and feel like something is missing, that’s when you need to consider adding details to make it more harmonious and unified.

How Details Boost Interior Appeal?

All of the interior design principles that we’ve talked about above, can actually be implemented by paying due attention to details. Interior designers have a very keen eye for details, and so should you, if you want to decorate your home as a cohesive whole. Things like gold detailing on wall frames, embossed designs on wallpapers, and stained glass edges on mirrors, might seem unimportant, but if they complement your décor, they can help you boost its appeal because we all look for visual connections, balance, symmetry, rhythm, contrast, and harmony in a living space.


Style the Home Right with These Interior Design Principles! (7)

We’ve talked about creating harmony throughout this post. This principle of interior design encompasses both unity and harmony, which are crucial elements that help the eye make sense of a visual space and understand it as a whole. A harmonious interior feels calmer and just right, having no disjointed or out of place additions that might catch the eye repeatedly and disturb your peaceful frame of mind.

Both harmony and unity are separate concepts that you need to understand in order to design your interior perfectly:

The Concept of Unity

Unity, while similar to harmony, refers to using objects, colours, furnishings, and textures that seem to belong together in a particular space. A dining table is only functional and a cohesive whole if it has chairs surrounding it, and a bed would look bare without any pillows. Small touches and placement of the right objects with one another create unity. However, unity requires harmony to make your interior design a success.

The Concept of Harmony

Harmony brings peace and restfulness because objects and elements are combined in a manner that makes them belong together in a particular room. There are several ways of attaining harmony in a space though.

One example is that you could use a single neutral colour scheme on all of the interior walls of the house and let the colour flow through each room in different forms and textures to make the room look like a cohesive and connected part of the house. This means that repetitive rhythms play a large part in creating harmony.

But this is not the only design principle that helps create harmony. All of the basic principles of design covered above play their part in bringing the décor together in a way that it becomes cosy, comfortable, and peaceful, without any aspects of the design jarring the flow of the eye across the room and disturbing your mental equilibrium.

Now, you know all about the basic principles of interior design and how to incorporate them into your home to create stunning living spaces. Remember that you do not need to add all seven principles in a single room but even a touch of each can help you design your interior stylishly. You can also consider hiring professionals from one of the best interior designing companies in Pakistan if you’d rather leave this work to those who are well versed with these principles.

Stay tuned to Zameen Blog for more home décor posts. You can also email us your comments and feedback at We love hearing from our readers!

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