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The 7 Elements of Interior Design & How To Use Them

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Great interior design doesn’t come about by way of an accident, and this is where the 7 elements of interior design come in. 

Despite clearly being a creative process, interior design can be considered to have somewhat structured ‘rules’ which designers bear in mind when working on a space.  

These so-called interior design elements, of which there are seven main ones, are what all professional interior designers adhere to in their work. 

These seven elements have emerged as key principles that influence the overall composition and visual impact of an interior space. They play a vital role in any good design. 

That’s not to say it’s all about regulations, of course. Interior design is indeed a highly creative process

While the seven elements of interior design provide a framework and guidelines for creating effective and visually pleasing designs, the actual implementation and execution of those elements involve creativity, artistic vision, and problem-solving skills. For example, they consider factors such as the purpose of the space, the desired atmosphere, the client’s preferences and lifestyle, and the architectural context.

Nevertheless the concept of the seven elements of interior design is widely recognized and used in the field of interior design and art. 

Let’s take a look at these essential elements of design and how they can be utilized in well-designed rooms:


Space is a fundamental element that plays a pivotal role in the world of interior design. It encompasses the physical area available for designing and arranging elements within an interior. 

The dimensions, shape, and volume of a space serve as the foundation for creating a well-balanced and functional design, and interior designers carefully consider these aspects to ensure that furniture, objects, and architectural features harmoniously fit within the space.

Whether it’s a rectangular room, a circular foyer, or an irregularly shaped living area, designers take into account the shape of the space to determine the most suitable layout and furniture placement. 

Positive space refers to the areas occupied by objects, furniture, and architectural elements within a room. Negative space, on the other hand, is the empty or unoccupied areas between and around those objects. Balancing positive and negative space is essential to create visual interest, clarity, and a sense of openness within a design.

Furthermore, the volume of a space significantly contributes to the overall atmosphere and spatial experience. High ceilings can evoke a sense of grandeur, while intimate rooms can make a room feel cozy. 


Line refers to the visual pathways created by the arrangement of objects, surfaces, or architectural features within a space. There are different types of lines; a line can be horizontal, vertical, or diagonal, and it helps create a sense of movement and flow.

Lines also have a profound impact on the perception and character of a space. 

line in interior design on a staircase

For example, horizontal lines evoke a sense of stability and tranquility, while vertical lines convey strength and height. Diagonal lines introduce a sense of energy and movement. 

By strategically incorporating these lines into the design, interior designers can shape the atmosphere and mood of a room. They can visually expand or contract space, establish visual hierarchy, and accentuate specific interior design elements or focal points.

Lines extend beyond physical elements too; they can also be implied or created through the placement of objects and furniture. 

The alignment of furniture, such as chairs and tables, can establish linear arrangements that enhance the overall design. Additionally, the use of architectural elements, such as beams, moldings, or partitions, can introduce lines that define and delineate spaces within an interior.


Forms encompass the physical shapes and configurations of objects, furniture, architectural features, and decorative interior design elements within an interior. 

By carefully manipulating form, designers can create depth, visual interest, and a distinct personality that resonates with the overall design concept.

Forms within an interior can be classified as either geometric or organic. 

Geometric forms are characterized by crisp lines, angles, and symmetrical arrangements, exuding a sense of order and stability. 

On the other hand, organic forms possess flowing curves, irregular shapes, and naturalistic qualities, imparting a sense of fluidity and a connection to nature. 

The interplay between these forms allows designers to evoke specific emotions, establish visual contrast, and establish a unique identity for a space.

For example, the designer may choose a geometrically shaped sofa with clean lines and angular edges as the central piece of furniture. This geometric form provides a sense of structure and order to the space. To complement the sofa, they might select a rectangular coffee table with sleek, straight lines. 

color in interior design in a living room

To introduce organic forms, they may then select a set of accent chairs with curvaceous silhouettes and rounded contours. These organic forms soften the overall aesthetic


Light serves as a powerful tool for interior designers to shape and enhance the aesthetic and functionality of a space. For example, light can be used to make a cozy bedroom as opposed to a bright, open bedroom.

By skillfully manipulating natural and artificial light, designers can create dynamic compositions, evoke emotions, and emphasize architectural features. 

The strategic use of different types of lighting enhances the visual impact and functionality of a space, allowing designers to play with illumination and shadow to create compelling compositions.

Natural light, with its ever-changing qualities, can define the character of a space. Designers may maximize natural light by incorporating large windows, skylights, or glass doors, allowing the space to be bathed in the warmth and vibrancy of sunlight. They may also utilize reflective surfaces, using trend-driven mirrors like blob mirrors or light-colored walls, to bounce and distribute natural light, amplifying its effect.

Artificial lighting is another vital aspect of interior design. Designers carefully select various lighting fixtures, such as chandeliers, pendants, recessed lights, table lamps or wall sconces, to create a desired ambiance and to fulfill functional lighting needs.

They consider different lighting levels, such as ambient lighting, task, and accent lighting, and mood lighting to provide a well-balanced and versatile lighting scheme. 


The strategic use of different colors can transform a room from dull to vibrant, from cold to cozy, and from chaotic to harmonious. 

Color choices can greatly impact the atmosphere of a space. Warm colors, such as reds, oranges, and yellows, infuse energy and create a cozy and inviting feel. Cool colors, like blues, greens, and purples, promote a calming and serene environment. Neutrals, such as whites, grays, and beiges, offer versatility and allow other design elements to shine. 

Designers carefully select color palettes based on the intended purpose of the space and the emotions they wish to evoke. 

Beyond the choice of individual colors, designers also consider color combinations and contrast from darker colors to lighter colors.

texture and pattern in interior design in a living room

Complementary colors, which lie opposite each other on the color wheel, create a vibrant and dynamic effect when used together. Analogous color schemes, where colors adjacent to each other on the color wheel are combined, offer a harmonious and cohesive look. 

Designers may also experiment with color gradients or monochromatic schemes to create subtle variations and visual interest. 


Texture, a tactile and visual element of interior design, adds depth, richness, and sensory interest to a space. 

By carefully selecting and layering textures, interior designers can enhance the overall aesthetic, evoke emotions, provide a sense of touch and establish a sense of harmony within the space.

Textures can vary greatly, ranging from natural materials with rough textures like wood, stone, and textiles to man-made materials such as glass, metal, and synthetic fabrics. 

Designers consider the purpose and desired atmosphere of the space to determine the most appropriate textures. 

For example, a cozy living room may feature plush and soft textures like velvet or faux fur, while a modern and sleek bathroom may incorporate smooth and reflective surfaces like polished tile or stainless steel. The interplay between each different physical texture creates contrast, adding visual interest and elevating the overall design.

Texture is not limited to materials alone but can also be introduced through patterns and tactile elements. Patterns, such as geometric motifs, floral designs, or intricate weaves, contribute to the overall textural composition of a space.

Additionally, designers may incorporate tactile elements like wall coverings with a physical texture, woven baskets, or decorative pillows to invite touch and create a multi-dimensional experience. 


Patterns play a vital role in interior design, infusing spaces with visual intrigue and personality. By carefully selecting, combining, and placing patterns, designers transform interiors into captivating environments. 

Patterns can take various forms, ranging from geometric shapes and abstract designs to floral motifs and intricate details.

Designers carefully select patterns based on the desired style and atmosphere of a space. For example, a contemporary setting may feature sleek and repetitive geometric patterns, while a bohemian-inspired room may incorporate organic and flowing designs. 

The choice and placement of patterns can influence the overall visual impact, create focal points, and establish a cohesive theme throughout the interior.

Patterns can be introduced through various design elements, including wallpapers, fabrics, tiles, rugs, and decorative accessories. 

Designers often consider the scale and proportion of patterns to ensure they harmonize with the overall space. Large-scale patterns can make a bold statement and become a focal point, while smaller-scale patterns can add intricacy and detail. 

These key elements are used in combination to create well-balanced, visually appealing, and functional interior spaces. Designers consider these elements when planning and executing their designs to achieve the desired aesthetic and functionality for a given space.

For interior decorators with years of experience these elements are the first thing they naturally consider when assessing an empty space. 

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Frequently asked questions

What are elements in interior design? 

Elements in interior design refer to the fundamental components or building blocks that designers use to create and shape a space. These elements include space, line, form, light, color, texture, and pattern. They are utilized and combined in various ways to establish visual harmony, functionality, and aesthetic appeal in interior spaces.

What is most important in interior design? 

Creating a space that meets the needs and desires of the occupants while also reflecting their style and personality is a primary objective in interior design. Additionally, elements such as space, light, color, and texture are key considerations in creating a well-designed and harmonious interior.

What is the difference between elements and principles of interior design?

The elements of interior design are the fundamental building blocks that shape a space, including space, line, form, light, color, texture, and pattern. The principles of interior design, on the other hand, are guidelines that dictate how these elements are effectively combined, such as balance, harmony, unity, proportion, scale, rhythm, emphasis, and contrast. 

What are the 7 principles of design?

The 7 principles of design are essential guidelines that contribute to creating visually appealing and harmonious compositions. These principles include balance, harmony, contrast, proportion, emphasis, rhythm, and unity, and they help designers achieve a sense of visual balance, unity, and interest in their designs. 

Melissa Jane Lee

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