Interior Design in the Home: 7 Elements of Interior Design

Unbeknownst to most people, interior design has both a creative and a scientific process. Imagination and flair are needed but so is practicality. Interior design is defined by 7 key elements that must exist in unison for the overall space and design to work. We spoke with interior designer Alena from Alena C Design in Laois about the 7 elements, their importance and how to incorporate them all in a space. 

Shape your home the way you would like it

The 7 Elements of Design are: space, line, forms, light, colour, texture and pattern. In your opinion, which element is most important in a room?

Interior design is a complex process and ideally should unite all listed elements. Each element is responsible for bringing something unique. However, I would highlight two elements as the most important ones: space and light. Space determines and dictates practicality and functionality within interior. It’s important to achieve physical comfort. Lighting helps to control highlights and shadows and creates unique mood and atmosphere.

When decorating a room, which element should you begin with?

When you start working on your home’s interior design, space planning is essential. You must establish the internal layout and choose furniture position. At this stage, you can understand how many individual areas you have and later plan design work around them.

Is it possible to have all elements present in a room?

Ideally, one should try to use all elements of design and that’s what designers try to achieve when starting a new project. One element complements another. For example, when you use a textured wall finish, you need to apply lighting to highlight its features. When you use pattern, you complement it with colour and line. Interior design is very complex, that’s why it’s not as easy as it seems. The most outstanding and flawless design includes all elements. 

Kitchen or living space are the most important areas to improve

Can you tell us about a project where you implemented the elements of design?

Only an empty, white room could have no design elements at all. Even with something as simple as chair, you bring some design elements to a room. One of my favourite elements is texture, which you get from adding interesting finishing materials. Texture always looks attractive and can be a bold statement in a room as well as a soft accent. You decide which role it will play.

Where do you take your inspiration from when creating a new plan for a room’s interior?

I always work with my clients very closely. I listen carefully to their request and I create a detailed design brief. I establish key points to see what is important for my client and their living/working space. From here, I know what kind of mood I need to create and explore various sources of inspiration: nature, international travel, fashion, art, etc. It might sound cliché but inspiration around us.  

For people who have never used an interior designer before, how does the process work?  

Every designer has their own approach. For me, it’s important to establish a good level of trust and understanding with a client from a day one. My key role is to help to create the home that they’ve always wanted to have. At the first meeting, we create a design brief and establish key aspects we need to consider while working on design. We create a list of favourite items and other items which should be excluded. It’s very detailed conversation about their lifestyle, expectations etc and takes at least an hour to complete.  

From the design brief, I begin working on actual design and present my concept to the client. The client takes time to see and review mood boards, drawings, sketches, samples and other details to understand the design perspective and overall look. I usually allow up to 3 rounds of revision to make necessary changes. It’s unusual to go further than the 2nd round though. When client is happy with the concept and likes all presented details, I prepare specifications and a shopping list, and we start to fit out and styling.

Tip: Planning a home improvement project? Check out these tips.   

When you start working on your home’s interior design, space planning is essential.

Can interior design be affordable? 

Absolutely. There are many brands and affordable stores where you can find interesting and attractive furniture and décor for an affordable price. Design becomes expensive when you are looking for unique bespoke solutions or exclusive designer furniture. If your expectations are modest and the room doesn’t have any odds, you easily can create a nice interior with minimum investment.

What is the main benefit of utilising all 7 elements of interior design?

Each element is like an additional layer to your design scheme. Imagine a cake that looks better as each new layer is added - the same applies to interior design. It’s important to understand what each element brings:

  • Space is the layout and functionality of the room.
  • Line and form are the objects we use, and decorative details.
  • Light creates mood
  • Colour, texture and pattern add visual interest and should be grouped together to make sure they complement each other instead of competing.

Can interior design help to make a home more family orientated or accessible?  

Interior design helps people to live a better life and feel comfortable in their living or working environment. You can focus on any aspect such as family or mindfulness or whatever else is what important to you.

Take some influence from different cultures

What do you think the next big interior design trend will be in 2020?

Interior design is very artistic these days. We can see a strong trend in wall panelling, modern furniture, flooring, and ceiling design. The mixing of finishing materials as a trend continues to grow. In the new year we will see a lot of creative decorative panelling and large format tiles (especially with stone/marble effect) being used in various living spaces.

What element of design is becoming more important / favoured among your clients?

Wall panelling is very popular among clients. Some clients like more classic traditional panelling style, while others prefer a more contemporary, decorative design. In general, many homeowners like interesting textures as well as contrasting colours such as dark teal, blue or rose taupe.

What small steps can a person take to incorporate some elements into their home?

The best approach is to decide on your layout before you start choosing colours, and then choose the colours before you buy decorative pieces. The design process has clear structure:  

  • Layout 
  • Choose colour scheme
  • Add accents.  

When you check your internal layout, decide on your statement wall and accent wall. Choose colours and then add colours/textures and patterns to complement what you already have. It’s like a jig-saw, you try different pieces and see what’s the best fit until entire picture is complete.

Tip: Check out the do’s and don’ts of DIY home improvements here.

Black can always work well with wood.

What is the most rewarding part of being an interior designer?

The most rewarding part is seeing happy clients. You rarely need to ask how they feel about the finished design because you see their face light up as soon as they enter the room. It’s priceless! In some cases, when we work on several rooms at the same time, my clients struggle to decide which room is their favourite because they like them all. I make sure that every family member finds something personal in each room, that resonates with them personally.

What is your favourite part of the home to design/work on?

I don’t have a favourite space to work on. I like that every design project brings something new for me - otherwise I might get bored of similar things. It’s great to be able to work on a variety of Interior types so you don’t get locked in the routine. 

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