How to Create a Perfectly Designed Room: Seven Key Design Principles

Many years ago, after living, loving and learning from the pages of Architectural Digest, I stand in a show house living room designed by Paul Wiseman with tears filling my eyes. The airbrushed yellow glazed walls were retro for an elegant, chic collection of overstuffed upholstery, fine antiques and timeless art. The cumulative beauty was,…

Many years ago, after living, loving and learning from the pages of Architectural Digest, I stand in a show house living room designed by Paul Wiseman with tears filling my eyes. The airbrushed yellow glazed walls were retro for an elegant, chic collection of overstuffed upholstery, fine antiques and timeless art. The cumulative beauty was, for me, overwhelming and deeply stimulating. It is a room I will never forget.

Reflecting back on that room and the many rooms of beauty I've experienced over the years there's a shortlist of concepts which I believe provided the foundation stones on which a remarkable room is built. While foundational, these principals never take away from the artistic inspiration and personal flair brought to any room by a serious designer. But, as with all things foundational, they are critical to a beautifully designed space.

If you're working to create a timelessly beautiful room, make use of this checklist of Key Design Principles:

Focus – If you're lucky the architecture of your room offers you focus. A fireplace, window or structural details are some obvious elements on which to focus a room's orientation. In the absence of one of these strong attention grabbers it becomes the smart designer's task to introduce a primary feature (strong furniture piece, art … etc.) supported by an appropriate collection of secondary focal points.

Balance – Whether approached using symmetry or asymmetry the balance of elements in a room is vital. Give careful consideration to the architectural details, the furniture, colors, art and accessories, as each should strike a compelling and consistent sense of balance.

Scale – Refers to the relative size of each object and element in a room in relation to all others. A room filled with large scaled objects can be successful based on the relative relationship of each item. In much the same way a room chalked full of relatively small items and elements can also be successful. The haphazardly mixing of these two ends of the spectrum can spell confusion for a space for its lack of clarity.

Proportion – Speaks to a desirable relationship off size between elements in a room. Correct proportion is accomplished with specific intent. It does not happen by accident. Careful understanding of the relative size of objects and elements as they relate to every other element in the room helps deliver rooms with pleasing proportions.

Color – Often the most obvious element of a room, color is quickly identified but its implications are powerful and far reaching. Color in all its relationships (complimentary, contrasting … etc.) conveys a wide range of emotions which heavily impact the design of a room. Understanding and then utilizing color to its best effect delivers an undeniable layer of beauty.

Pattern – Delivers to a space and surface a regular, repetitive arrangement of pattern. The successful mixing of pattern elevates a space by adding a depth of visual interest otherwise not possible.

Texture – The dimensional presence of random or repetitive details adds visual interest other missing from a room. Texture is realized in architectural elements, furniture surfaces as well as soft goods (fabrics, rugs … etc) and all to an interesting and potentially luxurious effect.