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    Elements of style

    The secret to successful interior design is detailed planning. All elements of the design should be carefully considered and plans drawn up of the method of approach. This will also allow you to calculate the cost of the project.

    The elements to be considered are:

    • Colours
    • Paints and/or wallpaper
    • Lighting
    • Storage
    • Furnishings and fabrics
    • Curtains or blinds
    • Decorative and ornamental features e.g. mirrors, pictures etc

    Each element is important to the success of the overall design, but no one element is more important than any other.

    Blue sofa

    Image supplied by Ikea

    Design tips

    Interior design can be a daunting experience for the novice, so here are a few basic rules concerning space and colour that will help you avoid some of the most common pitfalls.

    • Using a similar colour for the ceiling and the floor covering with a lighter shade on the walls can make narrow rooms appear wider.
    • A long room will look less like a corridor if one or both of the opposite narrower walls are painted in a slightly darker shade than the longer walls.
    • Place a large mirror close to a window to reflect the scene outside. This will make the room appear larger and brighter.
    • Vertical stripes on the walls will succeed in making the ceiling appear higher. However, narrow stripes in small rooms can create a cage effect, so using a pattern made up of alternating 15cm-20cm bands of colours of a similar shade may be a better option.
    • Horizontal stripes running around the room have a broadening effect. As this type of design is not to everyone’s taste, the same effect can be achieved by using wide bands of plain wallpaper in slightly different shades, applied across the walls. 
    • Larger rooms can be made to look smaller by using a dark colour on the walls below a picture rail, and a lighter colour above the rail and on the ceiling.
    • Furniture should always be chosen carefully to ensure it is in proportion to the room’s size. Simple, low-back sofas, open-back chairs and corner sofas can all make small rooms appear more spacious.
    • To make a small room appear bigger use neutral colours on the walls. Painting skirting boards and mouldings in a lighter colour to the walls will have the same effect.
    • Bright, vibrant colours such as reds, oranges and yellows deceive the eye by creating the impression that space is reduced; while blues, greens and  violets produce the opposite effect.

    Next: Lighting

    Each element is important to the success of the overall design, but no one element is more important than any other