Design Essentials

What are the Basic Elements of Interior Design?

1. Color
2. Space
3. Light
4. Pattern & Texture
5. Purpose

Understanding these five essential elements can help anyone improve the look and feel of each and every room.  And, don’t worry, they are easy to learn and understand.

Let’s take a quick look at each one individually before we explore how they work together.


Color affects mood

Color affects mood and emotion without us ever realizing it consciously. There is even a branch of psychology known as “color psychology” (yes, there is such a thing).

The study of color and its effects on our emotions is used in art therapy, advertising, marketing and interior design.  Here is what you need to know about color.


mini rooms for spaceSpace. There is always too much or too little. Usually too little.

There are a few tricks of the trade that can help.  Notice the picture on the left.  The area rugs help to break up this small single room apartment into three discrete mini-rooms: a living room area, a dining area and an office/library area.  Here are a few more tips and tricks to get the most out of your space.


Light and Interior Design

The fundamental mistake most decorators make with light is providing too few sources of illumination. Limiting a room to just basic  overhead lighting can make a space seem harsh, uninviting and unfit for the purpose of the room. Light should be layered – there should be multiple sources of light in a room and the light should be coming from different directions.

This is known as layering light.  Some even refer to it as creating a “lightscape”. Here are the essentials of lighting.

Pattern & Texture

Pattern in Interior Design

Every room in your home should be comfortable and functional – and never boring. The proper use of texture and pattern can make all the difference.  Usually, we think of texture and pattern in the context of upholstery, pillows, curtains and wall paper. However, do not neglect the tile, walls and art.  Remember texture can be seen as well as felt.

The heart and soul of pattern is repetition. You might try “rhyming” your room. In interior design, rhyming means repeating the same pattern or texture in more than one part of the room.  Use the same pattern for the pillows on your couch as you use for the curtains on one of the windows.  Use the same colors in your artwork as you use for your rug.  A design rhyme (which ironically rhymes) can create unity in a room and give the impression that the design has been thought out.


Interior DesignSpace, Color, Light, Pattern and Texture all work together to advance the purpose of the room.

In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective  People, Stephen Covey advises us to ‘begin with the end in mind’.  When designing your room, consider the purpose of the room first and foremost.  Is your room for eating, cooking, socializing, studying, sleeping, playing, entertainment, playing music or some combination?

Nothing in your choices of space, color, light, pattern & texture should work against the purpose of the room.