Basic Home Interior Design Principles for Good Appearance

Interior design is about creating a look or image by which people visually perceive the room. Our visual perception is affected by colour, pattern, texture and the amount and type of light available. Understanding how the elements and principles of design work is the basis for effective interior decoration and these can be manipulated in many ways to alter the way we see or visually perceive a room. Before you start to design your interior, these are the key element that you need to decide:

Key Factors of designs

1. Aspect

  • Aspect, the direction in which the room faces. A north facing room needs warm colours and a south facing room needs cool colours
  • Consider the layout of the room. This should take account of the movement or traffic flows within the room and be flexible enough to allow for activities which take place in it.
  • Consider the needs of the individuals/family using the room. These should include present needs and foreseeable future needs. It can be expensive to have to redecorate a child's room every few years as they grow from baby (nursery) to toddler (playroom) to teenager (study bedroom). Anticipating future needs should help you to plan a room design that can be easily adapted to meet changing needs.

2. Money available

  • Decide on your budget and stick to it. This may include money saved and money you plan to borrow, provided you can easily meet the repayments

3. Style and Personality

4. Function

  • Consider the purpose or purposes for which the room is used. Facilities required for working, leisure, storage and eating, etc., should be at a suitable level for maximum comfort and efficiency.
  • Consider heating, ventilation and lighting needs. Upgrading existing systems or installing new systems will need to be done before decorating work starts. More than one source of light is required in a room that serves many functions where a variety of activities have to be catered for
  • Furniture and furnishings, the overall choice of these will depend on the function of each room and the amount of wear and tear it gets. Rooms, in family homes, which get a lot of use - hallways, living rooms, kitchens and bathrooms necessitate the choice and use of hard-wearing, practical furnishings
  • Storage needs must be considered and these will relate to the function and use of the room

Elements of design

1. Colour

Colour is the most useful tool the interior decorator has. He or she can use it to make a small room seem larger, a dark room brighter or to bring about a complete change of mood or atmosphere in a room. Understanding the basic principles of colour theory will enable you to create colour schemes, which achieve a desired mood or effect in a room, with confidence.

2. Interior design terms

  • Hue -True colour
  • Tone – Depth of colour

Primary colours - red, yellow and blue are known as primary colours because you cannot mix them from other colours. All other colours are mixes from primary colours.

Secondary colours - are mixed from equal amounts of two primaries - orange, green and purple are secondary colours,

Tints (pastels) and shadesThe colour wheel is shown in pure colours, but all of these colours can appear as paler/less intense colours which are created from a mixture of the true colour and white, giving a variety of less intense tones known as tints or more commonly - pastels. Shades of a colour are created by mixing the true colour with black which deepens the tone by darkening it.

3. Colour schemes

Different types of colour scheme can be made using the colour wheel:

Contrasting colour schemes

Bright, lively schemes can be created by using colours which are directly opposite each other on the colour wheel, e.g. red and green. Contrasting colours used in equal amounts compete with each other and create an uneasy effect and therefore as a general rule, in these schemes, one colour should dominate.

Harmonious colour schemes

These schemes use colours, which are next to each other on the colour wheel. They combine easily because they are closely related - e.g. blue and blue-green. Such schemes work easily because nothing clashes or dominates. To bring life or interest to this scheme, use an accent colour in small amounts in accessories, e.g. lamp bases or cushions. Choose a contrast colour from the colour wheel for an accent colour.

Warm colour schemes

Reds, pinks, yellows and oranges are warm colours. They can be used to make a large room look smaller, brighten a sunless room or simply to create a warm effect. The closer the dominant colour of the scheme is to a warm primary (red or yellow) the stronger or more dramatic the scheme is and can be hard to live with. It is better choose pastels or a mix of muted shades of these colours as the dominant colour of the scheme and reserve the stronger colour for accents.

Cool colour schemes

Cool colours include blue and green. Cool colours always appear further away than warm colours and, therefore have the effect of making rooms appear more spacious. A calm atmosphere is created by the use of cool colours and they are best used in rooms that have good natural light as those with poor natural light can appear bleak and cold when decorated in these colours,

Monochromatic colour schemes

These are based on tones (shades or tints) of the one colour. Such schemes can be dramatic if sharp contrasts between light tints and dark shades of the colour are mainly used or they can be more comfortable and subtle if some of the mid tones are also used.

4. Pattern

A pattern is, basically a decorative design which may he printed on wallpaper or furnishing fabrics, formed by the weave of a cloth, or formed by the arrangement of tiles or timber panelling. The range of patterns available in all sorts of home decorating and furnishing materials is enormous. It is therefore useful, in choosing and using pattern, to understand the characteristics of different patterns:

  • patterns in a single true colour are more striking in effect than a plain surface completely painted in the same colour.
  • pastel colours are more lively when used on patterned design
  • scale or size is an important consideration when choosing and using pattern. The size, of the pattern should be relative to the area being covered - use small patterns in small rooms and large patterns in large rooms.
  • when mixing patterns in the same room, they should be carefully linked by choosing similar colours or motifs.

Pattern motifs

Checks and stripes

These can be traditional or modern in style. Gingham and tartans are in this group and they can be used very effectively for accent in a plain colour scheme.


These vary in size from large scale to mini-prints. The large scale, dense florals need to be used in large rooms. Mini-prints have a traditional cottage type appearance.

Geometric patterns

These are made up of definite shapes - triangles, diamonds, key patterns, etc. and again, in use, it is important to bear in mind the scale of the pattern. These patterns can be used to create a formal, more tailored effect.

Abstract patterns

These have no recognisable motif. They can be dramatic or subtle depending on the size of the motifs/shapes and the range of colours used in the pattern.

Textural patterns

These are printed design, which imitate other materials or various paint effects - sponging, rag-rolled, marbled, wood grain and moiré are examples. These patterns can give large flat surfaces more visual interest without being overpowering.


Texture describes how a material feels to the touch. Texture can be divided into loose groups - rough, smooth, matt, shiny, hard and soft. Rough textures include stone, brickwork, coir matting, carpets and wickerwork. Glass, chrome and ceramic tiles are examples of smooth textures. Texture can be used, in the same way as accents of colour, to add interest to a room design. Texture is also closely linked to colour because the quality of a colour - its richness or brightness for example - varies depending on the texture of the surface on which it is used. Smooth surfaces reflect light - rough surfaces absorb light. Therefore, a colour painted on a smooth plastered wall looks brighter than the same colour in a woven carpet.

5. Principles of design

The principles of design are guiding rules which when given consideration in designing and decorating rooms ensure good results. In a good design, consideration should be give to proportion, balance and emphasis.


This refers to how the size of different aspects of the design relates to each other and includes:

  • quantity of furniture in relation to room size. A small room, such as a box room, cannot accommodate a lot of furniture. In this case, a cabin bed or single bed and combination wardrobe would be a better choice than a bed and a suite of bedroom furniture
  • size of furniture in relation to room size. Antique furniture has in the main been designed for houses which had larger rooms and higher ceilings than homes today and for this reason can look
  • ‘proportionally’ out of place in a modern home. Reproduction furniture is made with modern room proportions in mind.
  • size of pattern - printed, woven or textured in relation to overall room size. Use small patterns in small rooms, etc.


Care should be taken to ensure that no one particular aspect of the design - be it colour, pattern or texture totally dominates the design. There should be an easy relationship between all parts of the design, with a roughly equal distribution of colour, pattern and texture.


To add interest, one or more parts or features of the design should be picked out, in some way, to attract attention to it. This may be achieved by:

  • arranging furniture to take advantage of a window with a view or around a fireplace
  • picking out an interesting feature with a contrasting colour, e.g. alcoves, coving or dado rails
  • using pattern or texture for emphasis.

  • Drop Ceiling Ideas For Modern Kitchen (View 1 of 4)
  • Modern Living Room Basic Home Interior Design Principles (View 2 of 4)
  • Drop Ceiling Ideas For Contemporary Living Room (View 3 of 4)
  • Images Of Beautiful Farmhouse Interiors (View 4 of 4)

Previous postBathroom Vanity With Granite Counter Top Next post5 Great Ideas for Your Tiny Bathroom