Back to Design School Part Two: The Seven Elements of Interior Design

Shaun Anderson | 07 September, 2021

SEP 2, 2021

The Seven Elements of Interior Design

Welcome back to design school with us at Ultra Shelf, today we’re tackling one of our favorite topics: the elements of interior design. While crafting custom shelving is our bread and butter, knowing the elements of design helps us style shelves, and helps us help you know where to place shelves in your home. The elements of design also help us style our home and office so it feels just the way we want it to, which is really nice too.

So with no further fluff, let’s jump right into the seven elements of interior design.

Element One: Space

Image: Magnolia HomeVacation Rentals

When you are tackling space, start with the numbers. What is the length, width, and height of the room? You also need to look at the concept of the layout. Is your space one, sectioned off room or is it part of an open-layout concept? In your room, empty space is called negative space and the areas filled with furniture, decor, or built-in features is called positive space. A well designed room has a good balance of both negative and positive space.

Element Two: Lines

Image: Jessica Goodline | Shelves:Ultra Shelf White Oak Natural

Lines lead your eyes around the space and help your brain know what elements to focus on. There are three main types of lines in interior design: horizontal lines, vertical lines, and dynamic lines. Horizontal lines can make a space feel more intimate and cozy. Vertical lines can make your space feel bigger. Dynamic lines are any lines in a room that are zigzaged or curved of move in any way. If you want a more modern look in your home, opt for straighter lines. If you want a more vintage feel, use more dynamic lines.

We love lines in a space, and not just becausewe make shelves which are one of the easiest ways to add lines to a space. Lines are a good way to create a story in a room and use visual illusions to create a room that looks bigger or smaller.

Element Three: Form and Shape

Lines all get together and form shapes. Shapes are all over your home, whether you recognize it or not. When you’re looking for the shapes that already exist in your home, look at walls, windows, and other built-in elements. The dynamic lines in your home can also create curved shapes like doorway arches or spiral staircases. Similar to lines, if you want a more modern and contemporary feel in your space, use simple, clean shapes in architecture and furnishings. If you like a more vintage or ornate feel in your home, add in dynamic shapes. You can combine both simple and dynamic forms to create a completely custom look in your home.

Element Four: Pattern

Image: Berber Blanket viaEtsy Shop

Lines form shapes and shapes form patterns. Pattern is one of our very favorite elements of design because you can use it to create cohesion or to create visual interest in a space. Pattern isn’t just patterned items in your space. It’s the grain of the wood. It’s the board and batten on the walls. It’s the repeat elements in the light fixture and the blinds. Your space will be full of pattern, some subtle, some not-so-subtle. The trick is for you to determine where pattern needs to pop, and where it needs to fade into the background.

When we createcustom floating shelves, we see pattern in the wood grain. It’s the best part of using real wood for our shelves. When we decorate those shelves though, we want to make sure that our decor compliments the natural pattern of the wood, instead of competing with it.

Element Five: Light

You’ve got natural light and artificial light and both are really important in setting the tone and mood of the room. Your natural light will either be warm or cool light, depending on which direction your windows face. Your added light can also be warm or cool, depending on the bulbs you use. Most light you add to your room is considered a task light. Task light is light that is simply necessary to keep a room well lit. You also have accent lighting, which illuminates a feature in your home. Accent light may highlight your art or a specific accent in your house. The last form of lighting in your home is mood lighting, usually referred to as ambient light. These subtle light enhancements serve to create an overall feeling in your space.

Element Six: Color

Image:West of Main Safran Stool

As more colorful home interiors are on the rise, you’ll likely be seeing more and more colorful spaces. Color conveys so much in a space. Aside from helping you portray your personal style, color can affect the mood of a room in a big way. When designing a space, work with colors that work well in the room, make you happy, and help the room feel like you want it to feel. Warm, dark colors will make a space cozy. Cool, bright colors will make a room feel vibrant and spacious.
Even if you opt for all white walls, you can still include color in your accents. Whether you’re throwing up warm wood shelving or cool, blue stools, the accents you pick for your home also bring in color.

Element Seven: Texture

Image:Stefana Silber | Shelves:Ultra Shelf

Texture is one of our favorite elements to add to a home. It doesn’t have to be big or overwhelming (unless you want it to be), it can be subtle and simple. Look at the image above and see if you can identify all of the different textures in the space. The leather round, the baskets, the plants, the wall tiles, and the countertops all have a different texture. All of the textures work together to create a space that is really visually interesting.
Traditionally, people thought of textures in forms of textiles, but that doesn’t have to be the case for your home. You can create a really beautiful space using textures that convey the style you want in your home. Baskets and blankets make the space feel cozy. Velvet fabrics make the space feel luxurious. Leather feels traditional and elevated. As you carefully select textures for your home, you’ll be able to add the finishing touches that make your space feel like home.

What design elements should we tackle next? Tell us in the comment section below!

Written by Maddison Driggs

Maddison is a copywriter who has been working in the interior design and home improvement area for the last five years. From hands on projects to writing for your favorite HGTV home reno couples, Maddison has developed a deep love for a well-styled room with the perfect personal touch.


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