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Elements of Design

Elements of Design

DEFINITION:  concrete, quantifiable components of any design; they transform the abstract Principles of Design into reality

Space, Line, Shape, Form, Mass, Texture, Pattern, Light, Color

1. Space can be an open or closed area that can be positive (filled) of negative (open). There are a few ways to keep in mind on how to manipulate the eye when it comes to space. Here are a couple tips on how to use space. Small spaces make the occupant feel protected, comforted, secure, and territorial. However, it can also make him or her feel restricted, confined, or restless. When decorating a small space, use neutral or light colors with a light ceiling and the same-colored trim. Also, using mirrors, small patterns, smooth textures, small-scale furniture, wall-to-wall flooring, and glass table tops can all help make a small room appear larger. On the other hand, large spaces feel free, open, and facilitate social aspect, but can also make the occupant feel insecure, unsafe, exposed and unable to escape people. When decorating a large space, decorate with dark or bright color and patterns. Also, using larger scale furniture, area rugs, and multiple furniture groupings can help make a large room appear smaller.

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When decorating a small space, use neutral or light colors with a light ceiling and the same-colored trim. Also, using mirrors, small patterns, smooth textures, small-scale furniture, wall-to-wall flooring, and glass table tops can all help make a small room appear larger.

hall-residence-q-design-master-bedroom-2

When decorating a large space, decorate with dark or bright color and patterns. Also, using larger scale furniture, area rugs, and multiple furniture groupings can help make a large room appear smaller.

2. There are many, many kinds of line, but for our purposes, we will look at two: curved lines and straight lines. Curved lines are very soft and graceful with a nod towards the dramatic side. Straight lines, which are generally more prevalent in interior design, can be vertical, horizontal, or diagonal. Vertical lines are dignified and formal and signify life, growth, masculinity, and height. Horizontal lines create a feeling of informality, repose and relaxation while making a room appear more wide and spacious. Diagonal lines should be used sparingly because it does draw the most attention due to its feelings of action and motion.

contemporary-family-room

Vertical lines are dignified and formal and signify life, growth, masculinity, and height.

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Horizontal lines create a feeling of informality, repose and relaxation while making a room appear more wide and spacious.

 blue-white-living-room-traditional-chic-chevron-carpet-rug

Diagonal lines should be used sparingly because it does draw the most attention due to its feelings of action and motion.

3. Let me draw a distinction here between form and shape. Shape is a two-dimensional outline, such as a rectangle or a triangle. Form is a three-dimensional shape such as a cube, a cone, or a sphere. Most often, you’ll see curved forms and rectangular forms in residential homes. Just a tip, it is best to choose one style of form to dominate in a room and use the other style of form as the accent form.

4. Mass refers to the weight, density, or relative solidity of a form; this element can be tricky because mass can be actual or visual. Actual mass is a physical solid item that fills space. Now, visual mass refers to materials that are used to fill the space without there truly being any mass present. This might clear this definition up for you: think of a sofa. The sofa is actual mass. Now, think of the skirt that goes from the bottom of the sofa to the floor. There is no mass behind this, but the skirt creates the allusion that there is mass there. Make sense? Another way to add visual mass is with color or pattern.

5. I love texture. Texture refers to the smoothness or roughness of a surface. Think of your sense of touch and then consider texture. Texture correlates with how something feels. Rough and course textures have a rugged, sturdy quality. Smooth and fine textures are more likely to suggest formality and elegance. Keep in mind, the mind can trick you into thinking something will be rough, like a wood veneer, when it is actually smooth; this is referred to as a visual reading of texture. *Textures are a really great way to add variety to a monochromatic room.

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Textures are a really great way to add variety to a monochromatic room.

6. Patterns are the arrangement of motifs in a repetitive or variegated order. You can indeed combine patterns, but you need to proceed judiciously and be sure to tie the patterns together with color. Also, keep in mind that if you’re designing a small space, too many patterns can be overwhelming to the eye. Okay, just because it’s coming back in we’re going to talk for just a second about wallpaper patterns. Let me explain to you the “Squint Test.” The “Squint Test” will help you determine appropriate wallpaper for the four walls in your room. By squinting your eyes so that all you can see are the contrasts of the wallpaper, “you will experience the effect of the pattern on the subconscious. A striped pattern may well vibrate, and a bold check may appear chaotic. A large print may appear overwhelming in scale. Make certain that the effects are consistent with the primary purpose of the space. If not, make another selection.” [This information was taken from “Feng Shi: A Practical Guide for Architects and Designers” by Vincent Smith and Barbara Lyons Stewart.] Generally, a light pattern or open space pattern is fine for all four walls and bold designs and colors may just be best for an accent wall.

7. The lighting in a room can actually affect the appearance of all the elements. We’re going to look at lighting in detail later, but for now, just know that there are two kinds of lighting; you can probably name them: natural light, open up those curtains, and artificial light, flip on that switch.

8. Last, but definitely not least, color. We looked at color in detail in a previous post, so head on back to “The Basics” and check out this last element of design!

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