September 9, 2019

3 Common Misconceptions About Interior Design

The basic principles of interior design might seem like common sense, but there are actually many misconceptions. Learn more here.

HGTV has become the fourth most-watched channel in America and tons of people draw inspiration from the professionals they see on television. But do most people truly understand the Principles of Interior Design?

Balance and harmony. Scale and repetition. Interior design can be boiled down to a few simple rules, but if you don't quite understand those rules, you may be in trouble.

If you're itching to decorate your house like a professional but feel a bit shaky on the rules, you're in the right place.

We're here to bust three of the most common myths and misconceptions about the Principles of Interior Design. Get ready to take some notes and up your styling game!

1. Balance Always Means Symmetry

Balance is an important part of interior design. We often think of balance as an even or steady distribution of objects that will create visual symmetry. While there is a science to our love of symmetry, it doesn't need to be implemented in every aspect of a room's design.

Picture this: a square room has a couch pushed up against the center of one wall and across from it is another focal point, like a television or fireplace. Each wall is the same color and on them hang frames of the same shape and size on the same plane. Where there is one plant or piece of decor, there is another of that variety to balance the scale. In effect, each space appears to have been split in half and made to match one another like a mirror.

There's nothing wrong with this type of design, but it isn't necessary to repeat in every room. Perfect symmetry tends to fall under the category of a traditional look and it is often used in formal spaces. You might implement a symmetrical design in your dining room or sitting room, but feel free to play around in relaxed spaces like the living room and bedrooms.

Asymmetrical design does not forgo balance, but it approaches it in a different way. You'll often see this on gallery walls, where one or two large pieces are mixed in with smaller pieces that, together, balance the weight of the larger ones. The key is to keep your design elements evenly weighted, even if they are different in size, color, or texture.

Don't be afraid to have fun with balance. Bear in mind that while symmetry can become rigid or boring, asymmetry can become chaotic and overwhelming. This is why we hope to achieve a balance in interior design.

2. The Look Matters More Than the Feel

This misconception tends to come up when people are considering hiring an interior designer. We've often heard people express the fear that designers will come into their homes and create a look that "isn't them" or "doesn't feel right."

One thing we do know is that our team of designers would not push a design on you that doesn't make you feel comfortable. Why?

Because harmony is key in the Principles of Interior Design. While harmony can refer to the unity of a room's design, it also refers to the way you feel when you're in that room. In fact, one of the best interior design tips we can offer, whether you're hiring a professional or redecorating on your own, is to understand what you want from each room in your home before you begin.

Knowing what you want from a room will optimize the results of your updated design. If a sleek and modern bedroom puts you at ease, sleek and modern it is. If a soft Scandi feel makes you want to snuggle in for a good night's sleep, then that's what you should strive for.

It's okay to love a look or design and not implement it in your own home! There are always ways to pull in elements of a design without giving up the pieces you love. Whether those pieces hold sentimental value or you find them comfortable and homey, don't give them up because you feel like you have to accomplish a specific design.

Pieces Can Be Stylized to Work in Any Room

We don't want to make you part with pieces you love or deter you from buying new pieces that speak to you. At the same time, we can't change the size or shape of a room unless you're going for a remodel. It's important to be realistic about what fits and what doesn't, which brings us to scale, another key Principle of Interior Design.

Scale refers to the way that the size of one object relates to another object or the space it's in. While you can get technical with scale and try to achieve scientific exactness (think of the Golden Ratio), you can also spot things that are out of scale if you have an eye for design.

People tend to grasp scale when it comes to furniture that is too small for a space.

Imagine a long dining hall with windows stretching from floor to ceiling. Now, imagine that the only thing in it is a card table, two chairs, and a potted plant. That would look odd, right?

It can be harder to see that furniture is too large for a space or accept that huge pieces in a small room can't be made to look great. You don't want your furniture to dominate both the space and the visual, but that's what's going to happen if they're too large for scale.

When you have pieces that you love that don't look right in a room no matter where you put them or how you stylize them, it's not because you haven't found the right decor. It's because they don't fit to scale!

Have Fun with the Principles of Interior Design

When you hear the word "principles," you think of hard and fast rules. When it comes to the Principles of Interior Design, you should remember that they aren't meant to be rigid and you're allowed to experiment and have fun with them. As long as you achieve things like balance, harmony, and scale, the rest will fall into place.

If you're looking for pieces to use in your home redecoration or you want to work with a professional interior designer, contact us today! We can't wait to make your interior design dreams come true!

Magda Zelickson


Co-Founder of Interior Illusions, Magda is an expert designer with over 30+ years experience