elements of design

Elements of Interior Design – Space

Space, form, line, texture, and color are the elements of design. It is through the organization of these elements that designs are developed.

Space is a void that exists between objects. To the decorator, however, space is real and all too measurable. It is the defined area in which he or she must work. Space can be two-dimensional or three, actual or apparent, and is nearly always supplied in one of two ways: too much or too little.

There are 3 types of spaces: group (where people gather), individual (where people can have privacy), and maintenance (for cooking, laundering, sewing, and storage).

It’s easy to see why multi-purpose rooms are so useful! Properly decorated and designed, they can be group, individual, or maintenance spaces, thus increasing effective utilization.

Using Space
As mentioned above, space problems fit into two categories – too much or too little space.

If your problem is too much space, try to divide the area into smaller, more manageable segments.  For example, a long, narrow room can be divided by placing a rectangular table or desk of suitable size at a 90 degree angle to the long wall. In other rooms, you may wish to use screens, plants, area rugs, risers or furniture groupings to define areas.  Screens and plants should be slightly taller than the people who will use the room, not so large and out of scale that they will dwarf the occupants. 

Warm colors (reds, oranges, yellows), those with high intensity and /or dark value will also make a room feel smaller. Heavy scale furniture may also be appropriate. Use completely upholstered sofas and chairs with fabric that reaches to the floor.

Other space absorbers are chests, tables with opaque tops, and furnishings that have square corners.  Avoid large wall mirrors.

Spacious rooms may be more adaptable to contemporary styles than to either traditional or country because contemporary furnishings are at their best when surrounded by empty space.

If your problem is too little space, reverse the advice above. Avoid cutting up the area visually. Use furnishings that blend with the walls and floor coverings rather than being in contrast to them.  For example, light color furniture woods will blend better than dark against pale backgrounds. Chairs and sofas with open backs and leg areas take less visual space than closed or fully upholstered pieces.

Keep colors light and cool, avoiding high intensities. If you wish to create contrast with color, use it in blocks rather than spreading the color everywhere. 

Patterns should be small in scale. Consider repeating the same pattern on draperies and upholstery fabrics rather than introducing new visual elements. 

Tables with transparent glass tops and rounded corners occupy minimum visual space better.  Tall, shallow furniture pieces will work better. Avoid clutter. Use wall mirrors to expand the room.

Based on book “The Art of Interior Decorating”.

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