Interior design is all about creating aesthetically stylish spaces and finding the best use out of whatever space you have to work with. If you are someone with a keen eye for home design, a decorating style that draws people in, or simply are known for having a perfectly laid out living space then getting into interior design may be the perfect fit for you. If you've ever had an inkling for the basics of interior design or wanting to design your online portfolio, you owe it to yourself to give it some consideration – either as a hobby or a career choice.
However, everything in interior design is more complicated than it appears to be. It calls for both a keen eye and a sophisticated design sensibilities. Informal rules go hand in hand with understanding the science. These things include understanding the 7 elements of interior – space, line, forms, light, texture, color, and pattern.
We've created this article as a quick guide to interior design so you can begin your interior design portfolio, topped with five commonly asked questions. Soon-to-be interior designers, or potential want-to-be interior designers, this one is written for you. Let's get started.
Table of Contents
From furniture to Pantone and color schemes, interior designers have to understand a space inside and out. Whether you’re working on a client’s home, a corporate office, or a restaurant, nailing the interior design of the indoor space can really change the atmosphere inside it.
Interior design focuses on turning the interior of homes and businesses into functional, aesthetically pleasing, and safe spaces through space planning, lighting, designing, and decorating. Interior designers must understand the architecture of the building so that they can create a functional space or room. They must plan and research to manipulate the space and create a space that meets the comfort, ergonomics, safety requirements, functionality, as well as the preferences of their clients.
Interior design is focused on space planning in each of the different rooms in a home. The elements involve both formal training and designer creativity to be able to quite literally know how to shape and work a home. The basics of interior design are working with clients to determine the best use of a space and to develop the most aesthetically pleasing place. There are design principles that come into play to help accomplish that goal. Interior design involves planning and utilizing floor plans to maximize potential. It also involves staying up-to-date with design trends and understanding the size, scale, and financial restrictions of your client. Each room or home you enter becomes a blank slate, your job is to make it beautiful.
Being able to find balance is another important aspect of interior design. This means successfully evenly distributing the visual weight of the furniture within the room with the accents and space. It's about creating a perfect harmony between the positive and negative space in the room. Balancing the scale of the different elements in the room and the position of different objects helps create the perfect proportion in each space.
Another important element is having a focal point. Having a focal point piece in every room is important in all design styles. Every room should feature one focal point whether that is a fireplace, a different paint color on one wall as an accent, an area rug, etc. During the design process, it's important to maintain the balance and make sure not to have too many focal points.
There are a number of different types of interior design – it is all in the different styles you choose to use. Some of the most popular styles to work with are:
By no means is this list comprehensive, but it does give designers a good place to start. Regardless of the style you choose, what is most important is you stay on brand through and through. Each of the different styles involves its own color palette, pieces of furniture, wall art, rugs, etc. While some styles will come easier to you just based on your personal preference, it is important for you to gain knowledge and learn a little bit about everything when it comes to different style options.
So far we've already hinted at the 7 elements of interior design basics – space, line, forms, light, texture, color, and pattern. Now, it's time to dive into each one of these things with some quick hits...
When we talk about space we need to consider it in a three-dimensional capacity, involving length, width, and height. When it comes to space, it's important to understand positive (space including objects) space and negative (empty) space, as well as understanding what that means for your room. Finding balance is important and the amount of positive/negative space needed in a room will change depending on the different style you are working with.
Lines include horizontal, vertical, and dynamic (zig-zag) and guide the way your eyes move through a room. They are created through furniture, rugs, art, color scheme or other objects. You need to make sure that there is both rhythm and harmony in the lines you are creating within different spaces. Balance is also needed for this design principle.
When discussing form, the focus is on the shape of the room itself and the objects within it. Some of the form you play with will be natural and already within the home – like a rock wall for example – while others will be what you choose to be part of your creative design.
Light is a really important aspect of any space – it can affect the way our eyes see color and process the space in a room. There is both natural and human-made light that can be used for a defined purpose – to accent or to create mood lighting. Fixtures or lights themselves can make or break a room.
This refers to the finish or the tactile finish of an object. This can come in the form of an actual or visual texture. You can find texture in paint color/method, furniture, a rug, etc. Since it can sometimes be an underrated element, consider adding in texture if something feels missing within a room. It might just be the finishing touch you were looking for.
Like all elements, color is really important. It can be used in a lot of ways – to change the perception of how big a space is or what the size looks like. The psychology should also be taken into consideration in your designs, for example, colors that entice calmness. It's important to choose color schemes that complement each other and the style you are creating.
Similar to texture, patterns are really something that can add to a design but need to be utilized to properly fit the style you are creating. Pattern can be used to add variety but needs to live in harmony with your design. Just like texture, they can come from furniture, wallpaper, a fixture, a rug, or artwork. Make sure it isn’t overdone, but don’t be afraid to utilize it either.
For anyone who is into home decorating or architecture, interior design is a great career choice. Every home and room you enter becomes a new canvas to create. Becoming an interior designer as a career choice will mean networking, education, developing a great online portfolio, staying up to date with design trends, and constantly tapping into your creativity. It's most important to choose a career path you love – so, if you've always had a knack for turning ordinary spaces into pieces of art, then a career in interior design might be perfect for you.
As mentioned, a job in interior design is a great career choice! Through both a passion for design and the proper schooling the sky really can be the limit in the clients and projects you work on, as well as the services you are able to offer. The average salary for an interior designer in the US is $49,810, however, the pay can really vary depending on who and what kind of design you are working on and with. Through experience and formal training, the pay scale can increase into six figures.
Like any business, interior design can be competitive in gaining clients. You'll need to create an online portfolio to share the spaces you've created with the world. Be sure to showcase your best work and a variety of different styles to show potential clients your range of skills, knowledge, and expertise. Format has a number of different online portfolio options catered to interior design with more tips and tricks to help you along the way. Check it out!
Create your own portfolio website with Format today.
Plus, get FREE access to our exclusive Photography Business Masterclass Course