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Interior design: The most important principles

“If you do [interior design] well,” says Nesen, “you can do anything” in your space. To find home design nirvana, be sure to explore steel windows and doors and follow these eight underlying principles.

1. Plan for real life

In the interior design process, “Space planning is first,” says Nesen. According to the American Institute of Architects, space planning includes blocking out interior spatial areas, defining circulation patterns, and developing plans for furniture layout and equipment placement.

2. Create a vision

Once the designers have an idea of how the space should function, they mesh those requirements with the client’s desired aesthetic and atmosphere, to create a concept for the space.

3. Be thoughtful about materials and construction

“Quality is key,” Nesen says, as materials and construction affect how a person experiences the finished room. Good quality materials have “a sound and a feeling that’s different than poor quality materials,” says Nesen.

Natural materials reign supreme. The designers at Maison often incorporate fabrics like wool, silk, and linen, and favor furniture with solid wood construction and or well-made antiques. Nesen cautions that spending a lot of money on something does not necessarily mean that you’re purchasing a quality piece.

4. Juxtapose contrasting elements

When a designer combines different materials, shapes, patterns, and textures, the differences between them can enhance their innate properties. Understanding this can be counterintuitive, says Nesen. “Some clients will say, “I want this fabric, lamp, and chair. But those items will all have the same visual value.”

5. Layer the details deliberately

The sweeping strokes of an interior design concept are nothing without the supporting details. Whether that’s the scale of a lampshade or the stile width on a cabinet door, a good designer must be detail-oriented and will specify all of the particulars in order to best support the overall vision.

6. Be authentic

Every interior design project should be personalized for the user, beyond just catering to their aesthetic taste and preferences. Nesen makes sure to integrate clients’ everyday belongings, as well as heirlooms and antique items.

7. Strike a balance

Guggenheim prefers to evaluate a room’s overall composition for balance rather than deliberately create focal points. Nesen agrees, suggesting that finding a balance starts with the room’s architectural features, like windows and doors, and then adding in pieces until equilibrium is found.

8. Edit

“Hiring an interior designer is like hiring an editor,” says Guggenheim. A designer knows when to add or take away elements to achieve the desired effect. “I might say, there’s too much of this one element or these two elements are weakening each other, so let’s remove one,” she says.

This includes bringing in “breathing room” and incorporating negative space into the overall design, in order to present the strongest composition possible. Don’t be afraid to get rid of things.

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