Principles Of Interior Design Week 3 | The Principle Of Contrast

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I am sharing the principle of contrast in design and how to use it in your home!

Successfully using contrast in a space is just one of the seven principles of interior design that we’ll be looking at today.

This is the third in a series on learning all about the Principles Of Design. Click HERE to see the rest of the series!

Gray recliner beside white painted brick fireplace.

The interior design principle of contrast refers to the difference in the luminance (or color) of objects and to the arrangement of opposite elements or effects in a space. There are many ways that contrast can be used in a room:

  • light vs dark colors
  • smooth vs rough textures
  • large vs small shapes
  • round vs square shapes
  • high gloss vs matte finishes
  • positive vs negative spaces.

The use of contrast is important for adding variety, visual interest and drama when designing a room. Let’s look at a few examples of the design principle of contrast in use around my home.

The makeover of my master bathroom isn’t complete yet, but all we have to do is take a close look at the vanities to see several examples of design contrast at work.

White bathroom vanity with round mirror, gold lights and accessories.

ROUND VS SQUARE SHAPES

The round gold mirror and rounded shapes of the light fixtures versus the rectangular vanities, the rectangular rug and the rectangular wall art is an easy one to spot.

Master bathroom vanity with round mirror and accessories.

COLOR CONTRAST

The color contrast of mixing gold and silver hardware and accessories in the room. And the contrast of the darker blue rug against the light gray floor.

Blue hand towels in the bathroom beside a vase filled with blue flowers.

SOFT VS HARD

The hardness of the surfaces versus the softness of the towels and the hardness of the tile floor versus the softness of the rug.

white bathroom vanity with round mirror, gold lights and accessories.

But how do these principles come into play in the public rooms of your home? Let’s take a look around my family room.

This one corner of my family room is filled with several different types of design contrast.

  • The round mirror on the wall versus my rectangular console table.
  • The squareness of the gallery wall versus the round sconces above the artwork.
  • The hardness of the wood of the furniture versus the softness of the couch, pillows and upholstered coffee table.
  • The light colors of the couch and coffee table versus the darker pillows and darker picture frames.
  • The solid patterns on the couch versus the patterned pillows.

Sofa with gallery wall above and sofa table in the sitting room.

You have to look a little harder to find the design contrasts on the fireplace side of the room, but they’re there.

  • The squareness of the fireplace and French doors versus the roundness of the lamp and mantel accessories.
  • The hardness of the brick of the fireplace versus the softness of the chair, pillows and greenery.
  • The neutral color of the walls and fireplace versus the color of the artwork and painted side table.
  • The smoothness of the walls versus the texture of the brick, shades, baskets and tufts in the back of the chair.

There is a stand up lamp beside the recliner in the living room.

One thing to keep in mind as you’re decorating the spaces in your home is that contrast doesn’t have to be done in large doses and it shouldn’t be overdone in a room or else it will lose it’s magical touch!

Worthing Court Blog

Pinterest image for post about using contrast in design with a neutral sofa

HERE ARE LINKS TO THE ENTIRE OF THE SERIES:

WEEK 1: PRINCIPLE OF UNITY IN DESIGN

WEEK 2: THE PRINCIPLE OF EMPHASIS & FOCUS

WEEK 3: THE PRINCIPLE OF CONTRAST

WEEK 4: THE PRINCIPLE OF DESIGN, RHYTHM & MOVEMENT

WEEK 5: THE PRINCIPLE OF SCALE & PROPORTION

WEEK 6: THE PRINCIPLE OF USING NEGATIVE SPACE

WEEK 7: THE PRINCIPLE OF DETAILS IN INTERIOR DESIGN

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5 Comments

  1. Mary Homann says:

    Thank you sooo much for sharing your knowledge with everyone. You have done an awesome job in explaining and giving us visual examples in each of your lessens.

    1. Thank you! I’m glad that you’re finding it helpful!

  2. Maggie Garcia-Schubert says:

    Hi, Suzy. Thanks for sharing your insight on decorating with us. Learning so much! May I ask the name of the wall paint in your master bathroom above? I think it would be perfect for my living room. Thanks so very much.

    1. I’m glad you’re finding this helpful! The walls in my bathroom, as well as the entire interior of our whole house are painted with Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige.

  3. Just seeing your sofa wall for the first time since you decluttered. YAY! Loving the calmness. Good job. It’s a challenge to let things go, but what a freeing effect it has on our lives and general well being. Keep up the good work!