These things are called the Elements and Principles of Design.
I know! That sounds REALLY boring. Potentially it could be, but hopefully I can make it exciting, or at least less boring. (don't wanna work it up just to fall flat on my face.)
I can't make any promises here, but I thought I would be doing all of my readers a huge injustice not to talk about these things. It's pretty interesting if you apply it to the right idea. Now, I do have a degree claiming that I am knowledgeable in Interior Design, but I am by know means an expert at this elements and principles stuff. In fact, after doing a little digging I am finding that it's really a matter of interpretation. So don't hesitate to join in the conversation!
There are several elements and several principles to talk about. I have decided to break each one down into their own post. Since I now have a little human being competing for my attention (and he always wins!), I might be a little slow to get them all posted.
I think this should be fun! So here we go!
Lets start with the simplest element of them all... LINE.
Here is a very general (and very boring) definition:
“When a point moves through space or when two points are connected, LINE is generated.[…] We see lines where things have edges, where one plane meets another, or where there is a change of color or surface in a plane.” Source: Interior Design third edition John F. Pile.
After thinking about that for about 3 seconds lets talk about the line and how it is used in a room. When thinking of LINE try not to think of something you draw on paper. Line can be window treatments, or furniture, or a pattern on the wall. Window treatments especially can help to emphasize the dominate line of a room. Confused? Lets take a closer look at the different kinds of line. (this is where I think it gets interesting!)
Vertical lines: These lines suggest stability, and immobility. You could also say solidity, strength, and permanence. Vertical lines create more formal environments. I like to think of a Roman Column as an example.
Horizontal lines: These lines are best described as lines that suggest rest and tranquility. Naturally humans lay in a horizontal position to sleep, and, surprise surprise, earth and sky meet in the horizontal. I'd like to think that both of these examples make for a calm and peaceful image. Horizontal lines create informal settings. In formal settings, however, they can help detract from the severity of vertical lines.
Diagonal Lines: Or sloping lines suggest movement and activity, but can also be used to direct attention. Diagonal lines can take an infinite number of angular directions that sometimes causes restlessness. It's important to balance out diagonal lines with horizontal or vertical lines. A vaulted ceiling uses sloping lines to point your eye upwards making the room feel bigger. At the same time, the floor is (obviously) horizontal balancing out the ceiling.
Curved Lines: Curving forms or lines are typically found more often in nature. These organic lines usually make us feel more free as opposed to straight lined forms by suggesting a sense of softness and flexibility. Curved lines lend an air of liveliness, and help break up the rigidity of a room.
So, kind of cool. Right? Now lets take a look at some rooms that uses these lines.
Need I say more? Besides the blatant use of symmetry here, there is a lot of vertical going on in this room. Windows, window treatments, fireplace, columns, wainscoting, just to name a few. I don't know about you, but this room feels extremely formal (i.e. I would NOT let my little guy play in there.) But there is a bit of a balancing act going on too. The crown molding and furniture play an important part in toning down (just a tad) the verticalness! (is that a word? It is now.)
I am going to go with a dominate Vertical line here, but there are definitely some whimsical things happening with curved lines. I like the juxtaposition of the two.
Kind of a slap in the face if you ask me. Way more horizontal than I prefer, but I think this room makes the point. I could see this room used for casual gatherings and some good ol' relaxation. Maybe there is a pool at the edge of the stairs...
I love this bathroom. The horizontal is emphasized in the tub and vanities.
This is boarderline restless. Almost too much diagonal. Floors, fabric, and doors. Am I missing anything?
Now this room has just enough diagonal. Ladder, lampshades, and the leggs on the stools. The ladder is a great detail bringing some variety into the room. Your eye is drawn to it.
The arms of the chairs, the twisted legs of the center table, and the water fountian contribute to rooms natural feel.