The seven principles of design are: Balance, Rhythm, Pattern, Emphasis, Contrast, Unity and Movement. A successful design incorporates many or all of these elements. A professional interior designer can help you create an engaging space but don’t be shy about choosing a designer who isn’t afraid to integrate these principles in a slightly rebellious and non-conservative way. Don’t back away from breaking these rules while keeping the basic design principles in mind.

#1 CHOOSE MATCHING FURNITURE – There continue to be many furniture stores that sell rooms as a set but if you come across an interior designer who recommends this, RUN! The days of matchy-matchy furniture have thankfully receded into the background. Some still do it but its outcome is a space that looks very one note and uninteresting. Instead, select individual pieces that fit the design style you like and you can’t go wrong.


#2 DON’T MIX METALS OR PATTERNS – Mixing and matching is nearly essential in modern design. When done properly, pairing brass with copper or iron, mixing different patterns, whether in similar shades or in varying scale, will bring a lot of character to your room. Don’t shy away from an eclectic mix that represents you and your travels. Again, some ways of achieving this result are more successful than others because you still need a focal point, accents and updated, light fabrics that will ensure the space doesn’t become too heavy.

#3 STAY AWAY FROM DARK PAINTS – Although it has been true since the dawn of time that light colors open up a space while dark walls make a room appear smaller, there are a number of ways to use dark colors in your home. Many interior designers like to add a dark color on an accent wall. Typically, this adds a lot of contrast so if you like a more tonal design, you will not be happy with this approach. If your intention is to evoke a feeling of warmth and coziness in an office or a powder bath, for example, dark walls would definitely be a way to achieve this goal. Other ways to add darker colors are in accent pieces or on cabinets or other furniture pieces. In the picture below, there are some dark elements but the room itself is still very bright and light

#4 – STAY SYMMETRICAL – There is a difference between symmetry and balance. Symmetry is NOT one of the 7 basic design principles. Symmetry is defined as the quality of being made up of exactly similar parts facing each other or around an axis. It isn’t wrong to use symmetry but it can be very boring, static and dull. Instead of repeating the same item within a space to achieve balance, use different elements with a similar perceived weight to achieve balance on the opposing axis. In the picture below, notice how the accessories on the fireplace mantel have the same visual “weight” to the left and right of the mirror but they are not the exact same pieces.  The sofa on the left is balanced by two chairs and a table of equal weight on the right.




  1. Love, love, LOVE the dark wall color in that kitchen! It really makes all the bright cabinetry pop! I think I need a kitchen remodel…

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