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6 Principles of Design in Interior Home Decoration

Updated on March 17, 2019

Beautifying your home must include two concepts of interior decoration— 5 Elements and 6 Principles. Apply these two concepts, not just one of the two but both to achieve an elegant look inside your house.

I have a hub, 5 Basic Elements. Please read that one too so you have general idea on what I'm saying here.

This hub, 6 Principles of Design, is a set of guidelines that works together with the 5 Basic Elements of Design.

The 6 principles of design are unity, balance, emphasis, contrast, proportion, and rhythm.


In home decorating, unity refers to the blending of all elements and principles of design. Unity exudes a feeling that all objects in a room look like they belong together.

You see unity when you enter the room of an artist or a writer. Almost all of the designs in his of her room reveal his of her inclination to arts or literature. Usually, the arrangement of the furniture and other objects in the room is in a manner that allows him or her to draw or read or write as often as freely as possible.



Balance refers to the arrangement of objects that create an even feel in a room. It brings equilibrium to the space. This means large and small items in the room should be distributed evenly. The entire room should be comfortable to the eye. There should be nothing annoying or awkward. If something seems out of place in the room, take it out.

Balance in home decorating is of two kinds – symmetrical and asymmetrical.

  • Symmetrical balance is present when two objects in a room are exactly the same and are placed equidistant from each other and from other elements. It is visually pleasing. An example of this formal type of arrangement would be an armoire against a wall with a candle sconce hanging on the wall on each side of the armoire.

  • Asymmetrical balance is seen when two objects fight for equal attention due to the location where they are placed. It is a little tricky to arrange, but can be pleasing to the eye if done properly. An example would be a console table with floral arrangement on one end and a grouping of candlesticks on the other. While the items are not the same, if they are of the same scale as the floral arrangement when grouped together, they will balance each other.

To maintain balance, large heavy pieces of furniture should be placed around the room and not grouped together on one side of the room.



Contrast is best explained in the cliché, opposites attract. It is achieved in all elements of design by using one element that differs in color or shape among objects. Contrast can be used to create interest in a room. The décor in your room should maintain the same style but vary in the elements of color, pattern, size, and others.

When you put one rough-textured furniture in a room full of smooth textured ones, you achieve contrast.

Interior designers are sometimes become too pre-occupied with monotone colors for area rugs, sofas, and drapery or matching all wood finishes. Contrasting colors can be pleasing to the eye if done well, especially if combined with textures in furniture and accessories. Some examples are contrasting dark wood furniture with white or ivory colored and textured fabrics. Adding texture to fabric or furniture also tones down the contrast effect. A rattan- or banana leaf-woven chair with a white herringbone tweed-covered cushion is not as cold in a room as a black lacquered chair with white polyester cushions.



Emphasis is the focal point or center in the design. It is the object which receives the most attention than the other objects in a room.

There is emphasis if you put briefly colored pillows in a solid colored sofa.



Proportion is about the relationships of one object to another, and how they look when placed near each other. This is achieved when taking into account the scale of the room, remembering that the people who will use the room will also be part of that scale. If you want large comfortable seats in a small room, you need to reduce the number of other things that will be placed in the room and make sure that the other accessories seem correctly proportional in relation to one another. Some items or furniture, or paintings, look good next to each other, and some don’t.



Rhythm refers to the movement which follows a regular pattern. When a room is harmonious, all the elements in the room relate easily to each other. When a room has rhythm, it means that the colors or patterns are repeated in a way that stimulates the eye and mind. Remember, however, that too much pattern in a small room can be overwhelming.

Rhythm is synonymous to harmony, just like in a song. In many cases, rhythm is “felt” intuitively and not immediately apparent to the person. But it is an element that makes a room right.

There are some ways to bring rhythm to your room:

  • Repeat lines in the room, just like a musical beat. Repeat circles in various forms around the room, or curves, or even vertical lines.
  • Arrange items from small to large – in groupings of home accessories, placement of tables and picture frames.
  • Make the room “flow” by putting curved lines in the room which lead the eye smoothly from one element to another.
  • Add a little contrast by not repeating shapes, lines, patterns, and colors.



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    • Positively SIMful profile image

      Kenzie Cartwright 

      5 months ago from San Myshuno

      This is helpful, I like to decorate but it's hit or miss. Sometimes things just feel a bit 'off' but I can't put my finger on why or figure out how to remedy the problem so I sit there staring at it forever, lol. But this breakdown helps me evaluate where my mistakes are. Thanks :o)

    • Catherine R profile image

      Catherine R 

      10 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      Very nice hub with great info!

    • beth811 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Pearl of the Orient Seas

      Thanks for the comment, earnestshub.

    • earnestshub profile image


      10 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Very good information! You write very succinctly.


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