Family of four on gray sectional in living room

Furnishing and decorating your home can be one of the most challenging—and rewarding—experiences. Everyone has an opinion as to which styles and trends are best, but you can’t go wrong by following three basic interior design principles.

Katie, one of our visual display designers, shared her three favorite design basics to follow when creating an interior space you’ll love coming home to. Keep reading to learn more!

Before you get started…

“I like to use the analogy ‘the little black dress’ when setting a vignette. Start with the ‘dress’— for example, a sofa or largest piece in the room, such as dining table, bed, etc.—and think about the overall look you are wanting to accomplish.

Adding a rug, accent pillows, lamps, accent chair, accessories and occasional tables are, in a sense, the ‘jewelry’ to complete the look. The look can be dressed up or down based on the selection of the ‘jewelry’ chosen.”

—Katie, Visual Display Designer  

Interior Design Basic Principles to Follow

Birds eye view of blonde woman sitting on sofa with phone and laptop and notepad

1. Scale & Proportion

“This is created through having similar sized statement pieces or ensuring the scale of the furniture is appropriate in size for your space.”

When you fall in love with a piece of furniture or large accent, make sure to measure! The true scale of a piece can be very deceiving when you’re viewing it in a large showroom or through the screen of your smartphone.

Brown leather sofa and loveseat with orange print pillows and matching orange print chair in living room setting

2. Balance

“This is created through the use of shape, color, pattern, and texture in a space.”

Here are three ways to achieve balance in any room:

  • Vary the heights. A room where all the furnishings or décor are the same height will lack interest. When you put furniture and accents in a room, put tall pieces next to shorter pieces. Use the 3:1 ration to guide you; for example, three vases of varying heights grouped together and balanced by a single darker object on the opposite side of the mantel or shelf, making a visually appealing look.
  • Less is best. A room needs breathing space. One of the most common mistakes people make is incorporating too many pieces of small décor to “fill” a room. Let it breathe!
  • Play up contrast with the use of color and texture. Choose two to three main colors for your room palette and spread those few colors out throughout the room.

Birds eye view of neutral sectional with brown leather chair and wood coffee table in a living room setting.

3. Harmony

“This is created through cohesive elements or repetition in a room.”

Repetition doesn’t have to be one color, just as you shouldn’t repeat only one texture or material. For example, use a floral pattern on an accent pillow and echo that pattern on the opposite side of the room with a piece of floral-inspired artwork.

One not-so-obvious way to bring in repetition is to repeat subtle materials like leather and wood throughout your room. Repeat these materials, patterns, and textures with items that are similar but not exact.

Gray reclining sectional with gray wood tables and beige rug in living room setting.