4 Design Principles Every Homeowner Should Know

When you first start decorating a space, you need to start from square one. Aka, you need to begin with the basics of interior design. To be honest, there is nothing wrong with experimenting with new trends and techniques. But, it’s always most beneficial to know the fundamentals of design principles like the back of your hand before you dive into any new adventures. Plus, learning the essentials of design principles will provide you with a space that can be a blank canvas for experimenting without losing its beauty.

Lifestyle Blogger Nicole Reid at Home on Poplar Creek shares 4 design principles every homeowner should know

If you want to learn more about the 4 design principles, every homeowner should know, keep reading, and I’ll share with you everything I know!

1. Balance

The first thing to think about when you are designing your home is balance. This is important when designing a room because it creates a harmonious atmosphere and allows for proper flow to the room and to the entire house. 

Lifestyle Blogger Nicole Reid at Home on Poplar Creek shares an example of balance in residential interior design

When you are designing your home, a balanced composition feels aesthetically pleasing (like the fabulous homes you see on Instagram). Balancing a piece in your home involves arranging both positive elements and negative space in a way that doesn’t overpower the house or room. Usually, everything flows together seamlessly.

Yes, balance is one principle, but within this principle, there are multiple sub principles I want to chat with you about. Here are 3 types of balance:


The first sub principle we are going to discuss is symmetrical balance. Typically, the symmetrical balance doesn’t mean that both sides of the room mirror each other in terms of the exact furniture used. Honestly, symmetrical balance relates to the visual weight being the same on both sides. 

Lifestyle Blogger Nicole Reid at Home on Poplar Creek shares symmetrical balance in interior design
Anne Hepfer Designs

Start by creating an invisible line down the middle of the room to create balance. When you are doing this, you need to make sure both sides of your invisible line mirror each other in scale, proportion, and visual weight to create a harmonious design. This will tie pieces of the room together perfectly!


Asymmetrical balance is harder to achieve, but it can be used to create a more dynamic space. Similar to when you are creating symmetrical balance, with asymmetrical, you will always need to create an invisible axis in your room.  

For instance, your fireplace will serve as the main focal point of your room. Then, this same fireplace will create an invisible axis down the center of your fireplace, continuing through your place. 

In symmetrical balance, you would choose to place the same chair on either side of the fireplace. But to achieve asymmetrical balance, you may want to put a chair on one side and an accent table on the other side. To create a harmonious design, the accent table and chair should have similar visual weight. 

Lifestyle Blogger Nicole Reid at Home on Poplar Creek shares and example of asymmetrical balance in interior design
Lindsey Adelman


Radial balance is achieved when your design is arranged around a central focal point. It is not used as much in residential interior design, but if it is, you’ll most likely find it in spaces where a round table is used, or seating is arranged in a circular pattern. 

Lifestyle Blogger Nicole Reid at Home on Poplar Creek shares an example of radial balance in interior design
Tamara Magel

2. Scale & Proportion

Scale and proportion are often used interchangeably, but I wanted to go ahead and tell you the difference between the two. This could really help you improve your room and how it is big or small, the room is perceived.


When we are talking about the design principles, scale applies to the size of an object, or furniture in this case, in relation to another in relation to the room the furniture is to be placed. For example, a tiny loveseat would look out of place in a grand two-story family room. A large sofa or sectional would feel more in place. 

When designing a room, you want to think about how the furniture pieces relate to each other. In the same example above, you would never want to place an IKEA sized coffee table fit for a studio apartment alongside an oversized sectional. The coffee table will look out of place in comparison to the sofa and room itself. 


Proportion refers to how objects relate to each other. This typically alludes to the connection in size between two objects. Proportion is what some people refer to when they are describing how two objects relate to one another in a room. For example, a coffee table should be two-thirds as long as the sofa they are set against.

3. Harmony

This is achieved when all other elements have come together and have been delivered effectively. Just as the term suggests, a harmonious design creates a sense of peace and calmness throughout a space. Usually, in a harmonious area, every single element, including the smallest details, will be seen as a whole. Every single item in the room is there for a reason!

4. Rhythm & Repetition

Rhythm in interior design encourages your eye to move around the room in an organized way that does not create a feeling of disorder or confusion. Within rhythm, there are four elements: repetition, graduation, transition, and contrast. 

Lifestyle Blogger Nicole Reid at Home on Poplar Creek shares an example of rhythm in interior design

We are only going to talk about repetition. In the past, repetition is the most widely used among homeowners and design enthusiasts. It usually refers to repeating elements that help to create a feeling of harmony (mentioned above). One example of this happening when there is a repeating pattern in the fabric or using the same type of metal elements throughout the space! 

Are you ready to start decorating your home?

While there are seven design principles that experts use, homeowners can quickly produce a well-designed space using only four principles. If you want to nail these principles down, your home will go start burst with Instagram-worthy pictures. 

If you are feeling adventurous, there are remaining 3 principles. They are focus, contrast, and details. Each of these elements is important to your overall design, but having a trained eye helps in implementing them altogether. 

I would love to see how you’ve implemented these design principles in your home! Comment down below, tag me on Instagram at @homeonpoplarcreek, or send me a quick email! I would love to see what great ideas you came up with. And if you find yourself needing a little more help, book a consultation with me and let’s chat!

And if you love reading all about the fundamentals of design, check out my tips to Mix and Match Throw Pillows Like a Pro!

Lifestyle Blogger Nicole Reid at Home on Poplar Creek shares four design principles every homeowner should know

September 4, 2019

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