17 Best Interior Design Basics
Are you a diy-er or are you looking to hire a designer to help you with your interior design project? Either way, it helps to know these 17 interior design basics.
Feeling lost about where to start? Do you have an idea of what style you prefer? Have you considered the color palette or limitations of your space?
When you embark on an interior design project, there are many things to think about and it can be daunting. That’s why I’ve compiled this list of my 17 interior design basics to consider before you start your design project.
Familiarize Yourself With Design Trends and Styles
Check out different trends and styles to get a general idea of what’s popular at the moment, what’s considered “passé,” and what’s here to stay! Ultimately, your goal should be to create a space that reflects your personal taste. Knowing what you do and don’t like helps inform this. Just like writer’s block, it can be overwhelming to identify, out the gate, your personal style until you’ve exposed yourself to different aesthetics. Keep a journal of what’s working for you and what’s not. Take Screen shots or tears from magazines. You’ll need it for idea #4
Determine Your Personal Taste
Once you have a handle on the different styles, you can begin to narrow down your own personal taste. For example, traditional interior design is characterized by its use of symmetry and formal elements, while contemporary design is more likely to feature clean lines and a minimalistic aesthetic. Do you prefer classic or modern design? Bright or subdued colors? Intricate details or simple shapes? Ask yourself these types of questions as they help you zero in on your own interior design preferences. Once you’ve determined what you like, you can start to put together a plan for how to achieve your brand of aesthetic in your home. This is the number one essential starting point for all other interior design basics
Choose an Inspiration Object
Now that you’ve determined your personal taste, what’s next? Choose an inspirational object as a starting point. This can be anything from a piece of art to a piece of jewelry. Once you have your inspirational object, build the rest of your space around it. This creates a cohesive look that is pulled together and polished. Best of all, it will be uniquely you and add a special touch to your finished project. Try this approach and watch how suddenly the space comes together with ease.
Wallpaper swatches can serve in this way and may wind up being the instigating aesthetic that sets the tone for the room. We are consistently inspired by the choices at Graham & Brown.
Create A Mood Board
A mood board is a collage of images, fabrics, and colors that interior designers use to communicate their vision for a space. By pulling together different elements, you are able to create a cohesive look that captures the feeling you strive to evoke. While mood boards can be created digitally, many designers still prefer the hands-on approach of cutting and pasting physical items. This process helps spark creativity and gives one a better sense of how the final space will come together. To create a mood board, begin by gathering inspiration from magazines, apps like Pinterest or Instagram, and fabric samples. Next, narrow down your selections and arrange them on a piece of poster board or foam core. Once the mood board is complete, you will have a better sense of the overall direction of your room, almost like a treasure map.
Determine The Focal Point
When it comes to the basics of interior design, one of the most important considerations is determining the focal point of a room. I generally look for an architectural detail like a large window or fireplace. These features will dictate furniture positioning and act as an anchor to build the rest of the room around. However, if you don’t have this feature or positioning doesn’t make sense in this way, consider an important furniture item such as a couch or a piece of art that makes a bold statement. Of course, if you are designing an entertainment room, then the screen placement would be the focal point.
Before you start purchasing, you need to determine how the space will function. Consider power sources and what that means in terms of lighting and electronics. How does that work in conjunction with your focal point and subsequent furniture placement? Similarly, does this room need to be accessed easily from another? How will you coordinate that with the traffic flow in and out of the room? All of these things are important to consider at the earliest stages of designing. You don’t want to finish your masterpiece only to discover that your bedside lamp doesn’t have an easily accessible wall socket!
Design A Room Layout Plan
That is why it is key to sketch or digitally plot the layout for your room. Ever play The Sims? Or try a design software app like Room Planner: Home Interior 3D? No longer do you need to imagine how a space will look with crude drawings, you can actually see the layout on your computer or phone! But regardless how you do it, a room layout plan is key to successful interior design. Think of it as a blue print for furniture and decor placement.
Feng Shui For Energetic Flow
Feng shui is often mistaken for a interior design trend. However, it is actually an ancient Chinese philosophy that believes that the placement of objects in a space can affect the flow of energy, or “chi.” The goal of feng shui is to create a balance of chi in a space in order to promote harmony and well-being. While the principles of feng shui can be applied to any type of space for specific reasons that are not about aesthetics, by understanding the basics of this methodology, one creates a space that is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also feels peaceful and calming.
Make A Budget
Designing the interior of your home can be an exciting project, but it’s important to make sure you stay within budget; this is an essential factor of the 17 interior design basics. Here are a few tips for staying within your means for your interior design project:
- Start by taking measurements of the space you plan to design. This will give you a good idea of the scale of the project and help you estimate costs.
- Next, research the cost of materials. If you’re planning to use high-end materials, be sure to factor in the cost so you don’t go over budget.
- Finally, consider the cost of labor. If you’re not planning to do the work yourself, be sure to include the cost of hiring someone to do it for you.
I would also add a padding to insure that unforeseen overages are covered. By following these tips, you can make sure your interior design project stays on budget and looks great!
Discover A Variety Of Decor Sources
Monochromatic has its place, but you don’t want to get every item from one source. Mix it up to avoid creating a room that looks like you ordered from a single brand. Find unique lamps, vintage fabrics, or craftsman pieces. Even if you are going for two-tones or all white, you can still create a unique and soulful room by ensuring variety of brands and designers. Find medium priced designers who offer unique options to intermix with other sources. Johnathan Adler is a good example of modern and mid-century modern home decor and furniture. Show us some love with the above link that leads to sale and coupon rewards. Try JAEXCLUSIVE20 at checkout for additional savings.
Explore Bold Colors
It can be scary to venture out of our comfort zone. Usually, we are accustomed to decorator white or beige tones on the walls; something that fades into the backdrop. But playing with color can be fun! Consider a bright accent wall or museum colors in combination. Investigate the exteriors of houses in Italy and southern Spain to draw inspiration.
Play With Patterns
As with color, the idea of mixing or even including patterns can be exhilarating once you get over your resistance, should you have any. The key is to assure that the “busy” factor works and doesn’t overwhelm. Consider wallpapering one wall, or if you’re daring, go all in! The key is to have fun and allow your inner artist free to express!
Tend to The Essentials
It’s super fun to bring in Grandmother’s china cabinet or Uncle Dan’s mounted trout, but before you go off roading, you need to make sure the basic functions of the room are handled. This means couches or settees for living rooms, beds and side tables for bedrooms, counter space for kitchens. Make room and budget accordingly for the basic functional pieces before you commit to the extras, or you may find you have items that, while lovely, will be relegated to the attic.
Know When Less Is More
It takes a seasoned eye to understand how to incorporate multiple art pieces, vases and collectables, yet manage to avoid a cluttered or messy look. If you’re unsure of how to do this, err on the side of streamlined. Work in layers or stages; anchor piece or feature, functional basics, walls and flooring, lighting and smart features (if applicable). Now, bring in the accents or determine if you need any!
As any interior designer will tell you, one of the most important aspects of designing a home is maximizing storage. Whether you live in a small apartment or a sprawling mansion, you need to be able to put away your belongings in a way that is both efficient and visually appealing. One of the simplest ways to do this is to use furniture with built-in storage. Coffee tables with drawers, ottomans with hinged lids, and beds with built-in headboards are all great options. Another way to maximize storage is to make use of vertical space. Install shelves on empty walls, hang hooks for coats and hats, and place baskets underneath tables and desks. By thinking creatively about storage, you can transform even the most cluttered room into an orderly and stylish space.
Hide the Unsightly
Of the 17 interior design basics, this is one that everyone should know: obscure those radiators, hide the electric boxes, beautify the screens. Luckily, there are easy ways to do this. You can use furniture to create a barrier. This can be as simple as placing a table or shelf in front of the offending item. You can also use curtains or blinds to obscure radiators and electric boxes; make sure that the fabric is not too heavy or it will impede the function of the radiator or box. And always safeguard for potential flammable or motor disruptions. Finally, consider screen covers to disguise TV monitors. These come in a variety of colors and styles, including copies of famous paintings which can make for an interesting addition. I once delighted upon an ancient urn placed on a pedestal that covered a thermostat in the hallway of a hotel in Sienna, Italy. It was an unexpected solution to an otherwise unsightly element.
Knowing When to Get Help With Your Design Project
Now you know the 17 interior design basics! With those, and the wealth of information on the internet and corresponding apps to help you every step of the way, the Do-It-Yourself approach has never been easier. That said, sometimes you may find you just need to turn to a professional to achieve your design goals. Having an expert who understands the process, has connections to excellent laborers, and can source pieces you may not know where to find, takes a lot of the headache out the experience. This way, you can communicate your vision and sit back while your designer does the heavy lifting! Find my easy guide to choosing the right interior designer for you or check out Havenly, an online design consulting firm.