Using Emphasis in your Interior Design

February 8, 2012

in Home improvement

Using Emphasis in your Interior Design

I spend a lot of time working on a fixer-upper that I call my house. Since I don’t have the luxury of a high income so I can hire a designer, I do most of the designing and work with a lot of help from my girlfriend. She was an art/film/writing major in school, and the first time I attempted to design a room she immediately saw a flaw in my work. I was lacking emphasis in a room, and it just looked like a bland mess.

She took the time to show me how the principal of emphasis is a concept that crosses most artistic boundaries, and how important it is for a total room design.

The Definition of Emphasis:

Emphasis has a myriad of definitions, so in its most basic sense, using something as emphasis is to draw the eye to that part of the room. For example, using a focal point creates a point of emphasis in the room, serving to anchor the rest of the design, if in fact it is based around the same focal point. I’m going to continue using a focal point throughout this article as an example however color, light, shape, and even texture can be used for emphasis.

Using emphasis is the difference between good decorators and great ones. The ability to look at a room, and choose which type of emphasis to use, within a clients budget is the hallmark of a good designer. The room and furniture you have to design decide which type of emphasis to use.

Architectural Emphasis:

Of the two types of emphasis, architectural emphasis is the easiest to explain, simply because it is the easiest to visualize. This type of emphasis is a way of “letting the room speak for itself”, according to designers in the industry.

This concept uses an architectural point in the room as a focal point, and the rest of the room is designed around it. The most obvious example of this is if a room in your house has a fireplace. A fireplace is an architectural feature of your house (its built right into the wall, and cannot be moved easily) that will naturally draw your eye toward it. In a room like this, designing the room around the fireplace is an excellent example of architectural emphasis. You can match the color of furniture to the paint on the mantle, or use the fireplace as a focal point and face most of the furniture towards it.

There is only one risk in using this sort of emphasis is when you start to incorporate strong features in contrast to the architectural feature. For example, a large painting over the fireplace would change the proportions of the entire room. This doesn’t mean that you should avoid decorating your mantle, but you should consider the decoration and how it fits in with the rest of the room.

Piece Emphasis:

The other option if you wish to use emphasis is to select an added feature to the room and design around it. This causes the eye to drift to the piece that you want to be the focal point of the room, and accentuates its importance in the overall design.

This type of emphasis is most commonly seen with designers that are also passionate about antiques. The very act of purchasing antiques is assigning a higher value to things that are from a certain period in time, or of a certain style. Creating a design around a focal element is a little different than an architectural focus, but with the right element, it can be more powerful.

For example, if you found a beautiful dresser that was built a century ago, it would be an effective use of emphasis to put that piece in your creative space. If you design a room around it, then it’s clear that you are striving for classic designs that stand the test of time; which is an awesome mantra for any creative mind. Designing the room around it is how you can get people to look at that piece.

Initially, this method of emphasis may be a tad easier to grasp to those new to the concepts of design, but in practice it is much easier. When you consider architectural features to focus on, those pieces most likely will not move, nor will the shape or color change drastically. However, a picture can be moved, a chest can be broken, and the hardware of your centuries-old dresser could rust. With the possibility of change comes the inherent need for a more flexible design. Incorporating that flexibility is pretty difficult, but when you figure it out, will ultimately be more fulfilling.

Pete Wise is an Inbound Marketer working closely with Discount Decorating. They have the largest online selection of wallpaper and wallpaper borders on the web, with some of the most competitive prices around. If you liked the article, follow pete on Twitter: @MySEOHeadache or check out his portfolio for Denver SEO.

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