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The Ten Elements of Good Design

Last week I touched on what makes for good design and this week I'd like to expand on that in more detail so that you can start to think about using these elements in your decorating!


Texture in design refers to the surface quality of the object.

We can create various moods in decorating through the use of various textures.

For example:

Smooth • shiny = Formal Soft • dull • rough = Informal

Variations in surfaces throughout a room will add interest, especially when the colour scheme is monochromatic. Wood, brick, caning, field-stone, grass cloth, and split bamboo are all good examples of materials that are good for adding texture into your design.


A pattern can be any decorative design, figure, or motif created through the use of line, form, space, light, and colour.

Again, we can create moods in decorating through the use of pattern.

For example:

A lot of pattern =

Busy, energetic, uncomfortable

Very little pattern =

Stark, calming, uninviting


Line is the direction of an art creation.  When we look at it in relation to interior design, the feeling of a room is established by the lines that gives it motion or repose.

Funk & Wagnalls Dictionary

defines LINE as…...

“In the arts: The representation of form by the use of strokes, rather than by shading or colouring”.

Also, think of LINE in design as being used as an edge of an area or a division between adjoining areas.

There are a number of different types of line uses in design and each evoke their own response:

STRAIGHT:  Vertical: feeling of height, strength & dignity

HORIZONTAL:  Feeling of repose, solidity & strength

DIAGONAL:  Feeling of action & movement

CURVED:  Large convex – uplifting feeling

LARGE CONCAVE:  Feeling of solidity or even sadness horizontal curve – restfulness

SMALL CURVE:  Lightness & merriment


Form is the area surrounded by lines to create a shape.

The contourof an object is represented by

its shape, which is made up of lines.

Which leads us to……


When a two dimensional shape takes on a third dimension, it becomes a form or mass.

The three categories of forms or shapes are:

Rectangles & squares:

These shapes provide a sense of unity and stability, easy to work with, may be arranged to conserve space.

Triangular shapes:

This shape provides a dynamic effect.

Curved forms:

This form is constant, unifying and pleasing. They may be dramatic and also give relief and variety to a room with a predominance of angular and rectilinear forms.


Space is perhaps the most important element of architecture!

It may be characterized as the opposite of form or mass.

It utilizes all the elements of design – line, form, colour, light, pattern, & texture etc.

Rooms can be furnished and arranged in such a way as to visually increase the sense of space.

Funk & Wagnalls’ Dictionary defines space as “an interval or area between or within points or objects.”


Colour is considered one of the most important elements  of design.

For more information on the use of colour in design please see my blogs on The Psychology Of Colour or How To Plan A Colour Scheme.


The elements of natural and artificial light and its importance in design is discussed in more detail in my blog post Lighting Your Home.


Contrast in interior design is the opposition of qualities.

In the photo seen here II have used an example of the contrast of the warm colour which is the orange, against the cool colour which is the blue.

Other examples of contrast are:

Dark vs. Light

Smooth vs. Rough

High vs. Low


Variety in design is the lack of sameness.

If we use too much of the same thing in a design….too much of anything, it becomes overwhelming or the bland. The use of variety in our design makes it inviting, adds interest, and adds surprise.

Well, there you have it….ten of the most important elements of good interior design. That wasn’t too dreary I hope?

Do keep this list in mind with each and every decorating project you do as it is essential to the success of your decorating project.

In a world full of beauty….

Gail K Allen

Interior Design Consultant

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