10 Feb

When you are done reading this article, you will be able to understand and use the basic interior design principles, which are usually used by all interior designers in order to create a good design, and you may even save some money or want to start a new career in interior design. Before we get into the specifics, let us discuss what interior design actually is.

Interior design is the process of shaping the experience of the interior space; you do this by manipulating the spatial volume and surface treatment. Try not to get confused between interior design and interior decoration, interior design draws on the aspects of environmental architecture, psychology, and product design along with traditional decoration.

An interior designer is someone who is considered a professional when it comes to the field of interior design or someone who designs the interiors of a space as part of their job. Interior design is considered a creative practice which analyzes programmatic information, refines the design direction, establishes a conceptual direction, and produces graphic construction and communication documents. Often, an interior designer will need to be licensed to practice, it depends on the jurisdictions.

Here are some interesting fun facts about interior design

Most of us know all about interior design and we love the idea, however, it is quite a big subject to touch on as there are many thing that even the most clued up and dedicated interior design fans are not aware of.

1. Quality interior design will examine each and every aspect of a room, from the bigger parts like the overall architecture to the more niche design areas like soft furnishings and wall covers.

2. Elsie de Wolfe, who was an American Actress, is known to have invented interior designing as a profession.

3. Leonardo Da Vinci took notes on what we know today as “color theory”, which is a key aspect when it comes to interior design.

4. Interior design is probably older than we may think it is, after all, there were drawings in caves in the prehistoric age and some consider them to be interior design.

5. Thus far, minimalist interior design has become the core concept of the 21st century.

6. The oldest carpet in the world still exists and is over 2500 years old.

7. As a professional junior interior designer, you can expect to earn anywhere between 18000 and 23000 pounds per year.

8. As a professional senior interior designer, you can expect to earn up to 45000 pounds per year.

9. Some of you may not be aware of this but interior design is actually a degree subject, and it can even be studied at a doctorate level.

10. Avocado bathroom suites were considered the height of great interior design in the 1970’s.

11. There will always be those interior design components that never go out of style. For example, it has always been considered as asset to have a large amount of natural light in the room or space.

12. Interior design usually varies quite a lot between different countries. What is considered the height of style in New York may be very much out of style in Germany.

13. That being said, there is one  type of interior design style that most countries seem to agree on, and that is Scandinavian style. This style has been quite popular over the last few years and is not showing any sign of fading away.

14. Great interior design usually involves elements of psychology. For example, trying to trick the eye into thinking the space is a lot bigger than it actually is.

15. For the UK readers, there are more than 100 interior design magazines to choose from.

16. Kelly Hoppen, who is one of the UK’s well-known interior designers, has more than 140000 followers on Twitter.

17. TV Shows using interior design as their topic of discussion. It was back in the 90’s when this trend first started, when Changing Rooms pioneered the demographic.

18. In the prestigious interior design awards known as The Frame Design Awards, there are over 30 different categories. These include Best Use of Digital Technology and Best Use of Light.

19. There are certain pieces of software available that can make interior design much simpler.

20. Interior design used to be quite a hazardous business I the Victorian age. Some paint used to contain poisonous substances like arsenic and lead.

Now that you have a better idea about how interior design works, we can go onto learning some helpful tips, tricks and principles of interior design. Let us have a look.

Harmony & Unity

When it comes to interior design, you should think of the house or building as a totality; a bunch of different spaces that are linked to one another by stairways, walls and halls. This is why it is appropriate to have one common style throughout the house or building. However, this does not necessarily mean that all of the elements should be exactly the same, but they should complement each other and work well together in order to strengthen the entire composition. A great way to create this storyline or theme is to make use of well-considered colour. You will find that colour schemes in general are a fantastic way to unify a collection of different spaces. For example, you can decide on three or four colours and use and spread them in different shades throughout the house or building.


For those of you who are not reading each and every word of this article, to understand balance when it comes to interior design, it can be described as the equal distribution of the visual weight that is in a certain room. With balance, there are three styles of balance, namely: asymmetrical, symmetrical, and radial.

Symmetrical balance is commonly found in the more traditional interiors. This type of balance is usually categorised by the same objects that get repeated in the same positions on either side of the vertical axis, for example, there are some older rooms where there is an exact mirror on the one side of the room as there is on the other side. This symmetry is also a reflection of the human form, and we are innately more comfortable in a balanced setting?

Asymmetrical balance is a bit more appropriate in these days. Asymmetrical balance is achieved with some dissimilar objects, which have equal eye attraction or visual weight. This type of balance is much more casual and also less contrived in feeling, however, it is more difficult to achieve asymmetrical balance. It generally suggests movement, and can lead to the more lively type of interiors.

Radial symmetry is achieved when all elements of a design are arrayed around a certain centre point. A great example of radial balance is a spiral staircase. Though it is not always employed in interiors, it can offer quite an interesting counterpoint if you use it correctly.

Focal Point

Boredom is the biggest enemy of interior design. If a room has been designed properly, it should always have, depending on how big it is, one of more focus points. A focal point needs to be interesting enough to encourage a viewer too look further and dominant enough to draw attention. A focal point will have to have that lasting impression on people but it must also be an integral part of the decoration linked through the style, scale, theme or colour. When thinking of a room focal point, people generally think of things like a flat TV or a fireplace.

If your space does not have that natural focal point like a TV or a fireplace, you can always create your own by highlighting a certain piece of art, furniture, or simply by having a contrasting colour painted in one area. You should try to keep the balance though, to ensure that you focal point does not take up all of the attention.


When talking about rhythm in the music sense, we could describe it as the beat of the pulse from the music being played. When it comes to interior design, the rhythm is all about the visual pattern repetition. Rhythm is defined as recurrence, continuity or an organised movement. In order to achieve these themes in a design, you will need to think about progression, repetition, contrast and transition. By using these mechanisms, you will be able to impact a sense of movement to your space, which will lead the eye from one design element to the next.


Repetition is when you make use of the same element more than once in a certain space. You can repeat a pattern, colour, line, theme or any other kind of element, or even more than just one element.


Progression is achieved when you take an element and increase or decrease one or more of its qualities. One of the first examples of this would be a gradation by size. Having a cluster of candles, all varying in size, on a plain and simple tray will create interest because there is a natural progression shown. You will also be able to achieve progression through colour, like in a monochromatic colour scheme where each different element is a slightly different shade of the same hue.


Transition is a bit more difficult to define. Unlike progression and repetition, transition tends to be a much smoother flow, where the eye will naturally glide from one area to the next. One of the most common ways of using transition is by using a curved line to gently lead the eye, like a winding path or an arched doorway.  


And then we have got contrast. Contrast is pretty straight forward. Putting two elements in opposition to each other, such as putting a white pillow next to a black pillow on the couch, this is the hallmark for this design principle. Opposition can also often be implied by contrasts in form, such as squares and circles both used together. With contrast, sometimes it can be a bit jarring, and it is most commonly used to enliven a space. Be aware of the fact that you could possibly be undoing some of the hard work you have put in using the other mechanisms by overdoing it with too much contrast.


When it comes to interior design , there is another important element, where it becomes necessary to take infinite pains as details. Anything from the colour of the piping on the scatter cushion, the trimming on the lamp shade, to the cupboard handles and light switches need attention. Unlike with colour, people generally find the details to be a bit boring. And because of this, it often times gets skimmed over or neglected or simply left out. We know that colour can express the entire life and spirit of a scheme, however, details are just as an important underpinning of interior design. Details do not always have to jump out at you and be obvious, but they should be just right, and they should enhance the overall feel of a room.

Proportion and Scale 

Proportion and scale work very well together, especially since they both relate to shape and size. Proportion is all about the ratio of one design element to another or one element to the whole. Scale has got to do with the size of one object compared to the next.


You get to have that definite impact on the atmosphere that you would like to create with interior design when you use colour.

At Rivermap, we specialise in interior decorating and design. We have been involved in projects with both ethnic and organic feels, in private homes as well as the leisure property sector. At Rivermap, we enjoy incorporating traditional elements, artefacts and organic materials. For more information on what we have to offer, contact us on 083 256 1723 or visit our website on www.rivermapdecordesign.co.za

* The email will not be published on the website.