principles of design

Interior Design Principles: Creating Harmony in Your Home

Guys, this is the last of our design principles that we've been covering the last 5 or 6 weeks. This has been a fun but challenging series for me to write because it can easily become kind of dry and boring if it's not your thing. 

I think it's so important to know and understand these principles, though, because once you have a grasp on them, I believe that it can expand your imagination and creativity and give you a foundation to do anything you want to create a beautiful and comfortable home.

Today's post is going to be short and sweet. We're talking about creating harmony in your home. So, let's get to it!


I'm gonna forgo the fancy definition this time around because I don't think it's really needed here. Harmony is basically all of the principles that we've already talked about and any other elements of design combined into a pleasing whole. It's everything combined together that creates that feeling of just rightness that makes you breath a sigh of satisfaction when you step back and take a look at something you've created and everything has fallen into place just perfectly.

How do you create harmony in your rooms and home?

Harmony in your rooms and homes is created through what seems like two opposing elements- unity and variety.

Think of creating harmony in your home like a well matched couple. In some ways they are very similar and almost exactly alike,  but in some ways they are completely different. Their similarities are part of what make them work so well together, but their differences are what make them interesting and help complement or complete the other. If they were both exactly alike, they would be boring and predictable to each other and everyone around them, but if they were crazy different, they probably wouldn't get along at all.

It's the same when designing a room and home. You want to include elements that are similar to each other such as furniture style and colors, but you can also vary these elements as well and mix and match to create an interesting and harmonious room that is uniquely you. 

One small area that you can start practicing this principle in is your bathroom. Instead of using matching floor mats and toilet seat covers and matching curtains and towels, try mixing it up a little bit with different colors and textures like Laura from the Unique Nest did in her bathroom

Interior Design Principles: Creating Harmony in Your Home

Choose a bathmat that contrasts with your shower curtain, and if you're bathroom is big enough you can use a more decorative rug instead of your typical bathmat in front of the sinks or even in front of the tub if you don't mind a fancier rug taking some bathroom wear. Just be sure you put something underneath it to keep it from slipping out from under you. Falling butt naked on the floor is not a fun or pretty experience. Here's some pretty bathrooms with fancy rugs that I've been loving on Pinterest lately. 

You can read or review the rest of this series through the links below. If you'd like me to create a PDF with these principles as an easy reference tool, let me know in the comments below, and I'd be happy to do that for you guys!

Interior Design Principles: Creating Emphasis in Your Rooms with a Focal Point

One of the common six principles of design is emphasis, which when it comes to decorating, is known as a focal point. Think of the focal point in your room like you would your makeup or jewelry. When you're putting on your makeup you can either go with a dramatic eye and neutral lip color or you can go with a dramatic lip color and a more neutral eye.

Or with your accessories, you might choose a statement necklace and go easier on the earrings and hair. It's all about balancing your look while still making a statement. If you go all out with the makeup and the jewelry and the hair, it can just be too much. Ya know what I mean?

via:   She Finds

Unless you're the famed interior designer and fashion icon, Iris Apfel, you more than likely won't be able to pull it off. (I think she looks kind of fabulous.)

via:   Elle Decor   Photo by Ryan Dixon for One King's Lane

via: Elle Decor Photo by Ryan Dixon for One King's Lane

The same goes with the rooms in our home. Some people can pull off some crazy things but most of us just need to simplify our focus while still making a statement. So, what is a focal point and how do you create one in each of your rooms?



[A]n area visually important enough to draw and hold attention. . . .[T]he object or area where the eye is drawn first.

Interiors: An Introduction

Basically, it's what your eye is going to go straight towards when you walk into a room and keep coming back to time and time again.

Why is it important?

We've talked a lot about grounding a room in this little series and a focal point is one of those things that grounds a room and gives your eyes a place to settle. It gives you that sense of balance and stability because your mind and eyes aren't trying to figure out what's going on and where to look.

Some of the most common focal points are a fireplace in a living room, the dining table and light fixture in a dining space and the bed and the space above it in a bedroom.  

Can you have more than one focal point in a room?

Yes! And many times you're going to want to, but they will not all carry the same visual weight or have the same importance. A dining room is a great example of this. The table and light fixture normally will be the primary focal point, but a sideboard set against a wall with some lamps or art above it or a pretty floral arrangement placed on it will be a secondary focal point. Gwen Hefner's dining room from The Makerista blog is a great example of this.

In your bedroom, the bed and the space above it might be your main focal point, but maybe the dresser or a little reading nook off to the side might be your secondary focal point. 

What if there is not obvious focal point in my room?

No worries, you can create one. Hang a huge piece of art on a wall and direct your furniture towards it. You can get engineer prints from places like Staples or Parabo Press and frame them as an extremely affordable art option. You can also install a row of bookcases from somewhere like Ikea, or build your own built ins or create a gallery wall. Pay attention to the area where your eye goes to first when you walk into a room and build on that for creating your focal point. 

A great focal point was created in the room below by centering the sofa between the windows and hanging a large mirror in the middle and dramatic drapes on either side. (Notice all the beautiful symmetry? You can see last week's post about that here.)

Tips for Creating a Focal Point in Any Room

  • Arrange your furniture so that it emphasizes or directs the eye to a natural focal point in a room like a fireplace. In the image below, the two sofas create what photographers call leading lines. They are lines that direct and draw your eye to the subject which in this case is the fireplace and art above it. The lamps also create a framing affect and the clear lucite coffee table doesn't obstruct the view but allows the eye to keep moving.
via:   Elle Decor
  • We already talked about some ways you can create a focal point when there isn't an obvious one, but apply the principles about arranging your furniture to direct your eye towards it. 
  • Start with creating one focal point area in your space and if you see a wall or corner that looks empty and could be a secondary focal point to help with the flow of the room, create one there. It can be a reading nook or desk area or a little side table with some art above it and maybe a lamp or some plants.
  • The larger the space the more focal points you will likely need. It may help to break the room into sections or separate seating areas. Just remember, you'll probably still have one or two main focal points and the rest will be smaller less demanding secondary focal points.

I hope this hasn't been to boring for you! I love this kind of stuff, and really want to make it fun for others. If you have any questions or advice to add, please leave them in the comments below. I love hearing from you!