10 Fundamental Design Guidelines For Any Space, Any Style

A home is a pure reflection of the person/people who live there. Some people have an inherent ability to decorate their surroundings in a way that truly represents who they are; others may find that challenging for any number of reasons. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum of interior design natural ability, there are fundamental guidelines for home design that will help you achieve a beautiful, personalized look and feel, no matter what the space is or what your style is. Here are 10 basic design concepts to get you inspired and started on your own decorating journey.


1. Utilize or Establish a Focal Point.


The focal point of a room is the place or thing that immediately draws someone’s eye as they enter the room. Some rooms have a natural focal point, such as a fireplace or large windows or even built-in shelving. For those rooms that lack a focal point, you can create one – hang a large piece of art, lay down an eye-catching area rug, or even paint one wall a different color. Having a focal point provides an inherent reason for a person’s entering and/or wanting to stay in any space.{found on schappacherwhite}.

2. Observe the Room’s Lines and Work with Them.


Lines (or curves, as the case may be) such as walls, ceilings, floors, even banisters help to define a space.

  • Horizontal lines in a room make spaces feel wider and can draw the room downward; they increase the intimate and cozy feel and have a contemporary vibe.
  • Vertical lines help spaces feel taller and narrower; they tend to be a bit on the formal, traditional side.
  • Diagonal lines provide the structure of straight lines but in a unique way, thus increasing the room’s feeling of energy.
  • Curves help to soften a space’s inherent right-angles and add immediate visual interest.

3. Layer Colors.


While colors are a Marsala Pantone, choosing the colors for your room doesn’t have to involve trendy colors per se. Choose colors that inspire you and make you happy, and layer them in varied tones and hues throughout the space. This will add depth and interest even in a monochromatic (one-color) room.

4. Choose Furniture to Maximize the Function of the Space.


When you determine the function of your space (which will of course be different for a living room vs. a bedroom vs. a den vs. an office), you will be better able to choose furniture that will satisfy those functions. You’ll also be better able to find functional pieces that match or enhance your own sense of style. Consider scale and proportion as you select furniture – avoid pieces that are too big and overwhelming or too small and underwhelming, as well as pieces that don’t work with everything else. Shop your house to change it up if things aren’t feeling “right.”

5. Consider the Layers of Your Lighting.


Three basic types/functions of lighting include the following:

  • Ambient (General) Lighting, which is typically overhead lighting with the purpose of evenly lighting the entire room.
  • Task Lighting, which is designed to illuminate a specific task, such as a reading lamp, desk lamp, or under-cabinet kitchen lights.
  • Accent Lighting, which is for emphasizing a specific piece or object, such as on a piece of artwork. Incorporating multiple types of lighting provides dimension to your room as well as enhances its functionality.

Typically, it’s wise to start with ambient lighting in the room and work in task and accent lighting from there. And don’t forget that natural lighting can play into the space as well.{found on thisisglamorous}.

6. Implement the Rule of Odd Numbers.

Implement the Rule of Odd Numbers

You’ve probably heard about the Rule of Thirds in photography. (If not, feel free to read from here) In design, a similar concept applies, which is the basic idea that pieces or items should be arranged in odd numbers. Doing this typically makes them more visually appealing and effective as Bathroom design elements, and it’s easier to achieve a sense of balance overall (discussed below) by following this rule.

7. Strategize Collections or Groups.


In addition to encouraging you to select well-edited groupings, it’s helpful to consider the actual physical aspects of the pieces in said groupings. The most aesthetic collections, displays, groupings, or vignettes tend to include objects with varied heights, shapes, and textures. But the pieces shouldn’t be completely dissimilar, or they won’t look intentional or pleasing. So varied pieces that also share a common characteristic or two will complement each other and enhance the overall grouping. In a nutshell, grouped objects should be similar with enough differences to keep things interesting.

8. Vary the Texture.


As you’re decorating your space, it’s helpful to take a step back every so often and view the room as a whole. Are there too many smooth, glossy surfaces? Or are you overwhelmed by the many rough, nubby objects? Shake it up a bit, and keep the room interesting and multi-dimensional, by varying the textures throughout the overall space.

9. Consider (and Embrace!) the Negative Space.

Negative Space white room
Negative Space

You’ve likely heard the adage, “Less is more.” This is often true in design, and it’s important to notice the places in your room that would benefit from being left alone. Let them be still, a quiet place to rest the eye before moving on to the next thing. The negative space is typically “white space” on the walls, and although it’s tempting to stick a piece of art there, allowing for a décor breather is highly beneficial. Some ways to embrace the negative space in your room might be to be intentional (let the negative space serve a purpose, such as showcasing a nearby decorated space) and avoid clutter (too much stuff just looks like, well, too much stuff).

10. Strive for Balance.


In general, a space that is balanced is a pleasing, stylish, and functional space to be in. Three types of balance in decorating, and that you should consider, include the following:

  • Symmetrical Balance, which is a traditional form of decorating where objects are repeated in the same positions on both sides of a vertical axis; this type of balance is inherently pleasing to us as human beings.
  • Asymmetrical Balance, which is a more contemporary style that takes dissimilar objects and displays them in balance according to their visual weight; this moving, energetic type of balance tends to be more casual but can be tricky to pull off successfully.
  • Radial Symmetry, which is when all the design elements are arranged around a center point.

We wish you good luck in your decorating journey and hope you find some, if not all, of these design guidelines helpful in creating a personalized, stylish space.