Interior design has five main elements: color, texture, line, form and space. By using each element carefully to pull together the design of a room, you can create a beautiful and inspired space. It is important to understand these elements and how they work together to create the right style and design for your home.
When selecting wallpaper, paint, window hangings, furniture and even carpet, one of the first things you should take into consideration is color. Color sets the tone of a room. It can make it feel bigger, smaller, warmer or cooler. Your color palette will give your space a certain mood that visitors will notice instantly. One of the most important considerations in interior design is selecting colors that work well together. Color can be used to draw attention to your focal point, or disguise your least favorite features. When selecting colors, try to pick several colors in the same family, or that compliment each other. Don't try to get several items to match exactly. It is nearly impossible to match; it's much easier to select different shades that can work together.
The next thing you may notice when selecting pieces for your room is texture. This is especially important when selecting upholstery and curtains. Nubby, rough textures will create a more casual, homey feel. Smooth and shiny textures such as silk will create a more formal feeling. Though you can mix and match many different fabrics, try to stick to those that are complimentary. Avoid stark contrasts in texture and instead use contrast to your advantage with elements such as color. Texture can also extend to the floors and walls. Many wallpapers have very distinct textures, and even paint will have varying degrees of gloss. Your floors may be hardwood, tile or carpet. Consider all the elements in a room carefully to create a cohesive look and feel.
The next two elements of interior design are often overlooked. They are form and line. In most rooms your dominant line is going to be straight, and is defined by your walls. However, you will also find lines in the shape of your furniture as well as the presence of stripes and patterns on your walls or floors. Vertical lines create height and tend to add a touch of formality to the room. Horizontal lines are more restful. A combination of vertical and horizontal lines is usually necessary to create the proper sense of balance. Diagonal lines will catch you attention, but should be used sparingly as they can create a dizzying effect. Curved lines will soften the room and often create a feeling of femininity. Form is the shape created by those lines. The most dominant form in interior decorating is the rectangle, seen in couches and coffee tables. Circular shapes will soften the feel of a rigid room, and triangular shapes create a sense of stability.
Space is often the least giving element in interior design. Unless you are designing an entirely new home, you must work with what you have. In general, large spaces require big, bulky furniture and small spaces require smaller, more delicate pieces. However, a small room can have one large piece of furniture used as the focal point of the room. Varying shades of color on different walls can create a sense of depth in an otherwise confined space. Vertical lines will make low ceiling seem higher. There are a variety of tricks that can be used when painting the ceiling which will make the room appear larger or smaller. All tricks aside, you can't fool the eye into thinking that your furniture fits into a room that cannot accommodate it, so select pieces that fit in your room without having to be shoved up against every available wall.
When you are decorating your home, you should take time to consider all of the elements of design and decide how you want to use each to compliment your style. It can be very helpful to cut out pictures from magazines and catalogs, and print out pictures of anything that you like. Collect a variety of paint, wallpaper, fabric and carpet samples. It's much easier to lay out your collection of clippings and see how they work together than it is to actually paint, carpet and move in your furniture only to realize that your selections don't quite work together. You should also take all adjoining rooms into consideration even if you are only decorating one. Your rooms don't need to match, but you should try to have a few consistent elements throughout. If green is the dominant color in your living room, use touches of the same color in the adjoining dining room. If one room leads directly into another, it's important to select all your elements so that they will be complimentary to one another and not clash.