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What Is Interior Design? A Beginner's Guide


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When you think of interior design, it is the improvement of an existing man-made space. It has been a practice since the birth of civilization. The many changing designs show how much potential an area can get revamped. Depending on the room’s size, space, location, and amenities, the design comes into play. There are many elements that make the design come together. With the help of an interior designer, you can execute the design you want with professional help.


What is interior design about? Interior design is the process of enhancing space with materials, fixtures, and finishes. As a result, it improves one’s quality of life. Every home or building includes interior design, and they serve a specific purpose. Interior designers communicate with their clients to know the progress of the project. Furthermore, they can collaborate with architects and interior decorators to ensure consistency and amplify space.


What Is Interior Design?

Interior design is the application of functionality in interior spaces to enhance one’s quality of life. A designer can work closely with an architect depending on the project’s scale. They follow the basic design principles and lay out the wall and floor plans. In addition, they comply with building codes, accessibility, fire safety, and more. Interior designers work on commercial projects, including residential and institutional projects.


Interior Designer Vs. Interior Decorator

While these positions interchange, there are key differences between the interior designer and the interior decorator. For example, an interior decorator handles the stylization of an existing space. Decorators focus on the decor in the room and take a less holistic approach. As a result, the decorator improves a room’s balance and proportions.


On the other hand, an interior designer follows a more technical approach to a space. Designers study people’s behavior in relation to the environment. They follow building codes while also understanding the space to enhance a person’s experience. An interior designer can draft out the rough layout of a room, space usability, and flow.


Work Process

Like with any project, interior design follows a strict workflow. This is to ensure work quality throughout in case there are changes. Here is how the process works:

  • Consultation - Consultation is the first step in any interior design. An architectural firm provides this as standard practice for all projects. The interior designer can take note of what the client wants and collaborate with the architect. After consultation gets done, the project can come in full swing.


  • Schematic Design - Secondly, schematic design is giving rough design ideas for a space. Interior designers can create mood boards based on the room and concept. Designs can vary, and they can change throughout the project.


  • Design Development - Design development is the third step. After making the rough design, the designer submits the selection for client approval. It can take long or short, depending on the client’s response. Once approved, the interior designer can proceed with the next step.


  • Drawings & Specifications - Following design development is the step of drawings and specifications. In this stage, interior designs assemble the exact specifications of any room or space. These include the schedules and details so the architect can know what to work on.


  • Installation - Once the space is ready, the interior designer can install the specified materials. This will also be the last step. In this step, the interior designer checks for any defects, electrical problems, window fixtures, and possible shortcomings. Interior designers oversee the installation to ensure quality in and out.


Principles And Elements Of Interior Design

Any project will be easier to follow when interior design principles and elements are in place. These standards help in creating distinct interiors to build character. These elements or principles can help you build your ideal home.


Principles Of Interior Design

The principles of interior design include the following:

  • Balance - Balance involves an understanding of stability in space. There are three types of balance that you can look into, such as:

    • Symmetrical - This follows a mirrored effect in the design. It involves having two materials in one room to create balance. For example, you place two chairs at the end of a table. However, too much symmetry can make it look repetitive to look at.


  • Asymmetrical - Asymmetry does not rely on exact duplication, but it can follow similar patterns, shapes, or sizes. It creates flexibility, and you can pair them as long as there are similarities. For example, a living room can have one sofa and two one-seater chairs to create an asymmetrical effect.


  • Radial Balance - This approach requires one main focal point to achieve it. If there is no focal point, it will not work. Therefore, a room or space should have a single focal point to spread the smaller elements and materials evenly. It is also why there is one fireplace in specific homes to create focus.


  • Harmony - Harmony combines all elements to create a harmonious whole. It should follow a consistent pattern, flow, and color palette throughout the project. Otherwise, there will be elements that look out of place. You can group furniture together or use similar colors to make a focal point.


  • Rhythm - It is the repetition of form in space. You can repeat the same materials used in a room to create rhythm. Like music, good rhythm improves a room. Remember that you can use similar tones or materials to create them. You may also think outside the box to find what rhythm suits you best.


  • Scale & Proportion - Scale and proportion depend on how the objects fit together. The size of the space determines the scale and proportion of any material. For example, bulkier amenities in a small bathroom can make the place look cramped. Therefore, you should have objects or pieces of furniture that fit into the space. It also includes the texture, shape, and color to scale.


  • Contrast - Contrast is one of the easiest principles to pull off. You get to use opposite ends of any material, color, or texture to bring harmony. Examples include light against dark, rough against smooth, or similar contrasts. For an easier example, you can use a color wheel and use shades of color found on the opposite side of the spectrum.


  • Emphasis - Emphasis can work well with radial balance to draw attention. Like before, if there is no focal point, the design can fall flat. You can highlight a specific feature, such as a painting, fireplace, or a wide LED TV. Emphasis applies in every space, both small and large as long as the focal point is present.


  • Details - Details are the finishing touches to any room or space. These details can be personalized to your liking, and it can make a big difference. It encourages you to include what makes the room unique in your vision. Having a personal touch shows how create a space that is yours.


Elements Of Interior Design

Here are the following elements that you should consider:

  • Space - It defines the boundaries on what you can place in a room. The challenge here is to use the existing space effectively. Space applies in all sizes, whether big or small.


  • Line - There are four ways you can line up your space. It can be horizontal, vertical, diagonal, or curved. Any direction in place determines the room’s mood.


  • Form - These are lines that join together to create the form or shape. Like the line, it impacts the overall design. Straight lines form squares, rectangles, and triangles. In contrast, curved lines form circles and ovals.


  • Color - Color sets the tone and mood of any space. They can create a warm or cool feeling depending on the colors used. In addition, pieces of furniture that follow the same or similar color can transform a space.


  • Texture -Texture indicates the material’s smoothness or roughness. By using various textures, you can elevate a room’s variety and pique interest. However, too much texture can create an uncomfortable feeling when there is no control.


With the many elements and principles of design, there are many possibilities you can explore for your home. An interior designer helps you pinpoint the exact design so your vision comes to life. Remember that design follows a purpose, which enhances one’s living space.


Benefits Of Interior Design

By following a proper interior design workflow, you will live in a home that is truly yours. Not only do you get professional insight, but you get the perks of a high-quality living space. Here are the benefits of implementing interior design:

  • Maximizes Space - Space can make or break your design. With interior design, space gets maximized to its fullest whether small or big. The available space determines what will be the best design to install according to the designer.


  • Save Time & Money - Interior design is a long-term investment for your home or building. Professional interior designers can help you save costs on your design to improve one’s living space. In addition, your investment results to better amenities for you and your family.


  • Enhance Quality Of Life - Interior design improves a person’s quality of life. It should represent how a person can live better without making it complicated. The goal here is to create a welcoming environment for everyone to live in.


  • Increases Value - If you plan to sell your house one day, interior design can increase the market value. It applies to any design, whether is it a major renovation or minor adjustment. The better the design, the higher the value. Keep in mind that it is a long-term investment if you plan to increase the value.


Having interior design is beneficial for your home or building. It uses space to its fullest potential and it enhances quality of life. As a result, you save time and money for any costs incurred in the process. If you are considering for a long-term investment, interior design increases value to potential buyers.


Plan Your Interior Design At APL Architects

Interior design is a fundamental skill for any architecture project, whether for commercial or residential use. There are many principles and elements that form the design process in accordance with the building code. Furthermore, interior designers collaborate with architects to ensure a high-quality standard. When you live in a home with a beneficial design that dictates your space, your quality of life improves in the long term.


APL Architects is the leading Philippine architecture firm. APL Architects is also headed by Philip Lu. With our experience in interior design and architecture, we deliver the best quality output for your design. Contact us with expert designers today!


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