Interior Styling – Design a Room

Interior Styling

Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Lydia Kasumi Shirreff

Interior Styling is the frosting on designing a room, yet this 10% of your design speaks volumes about what your room is attempting to say.

But in the same manner that a beautifully frosted cake that is dry and flavorless underneath will not hit the mark, the converse is equally true; a room that is poorly styled regardless of color or the expense of your accents won’t reach its potential.

So let’s dive in and begin with an explanation of what she thinks she’s doing with the image above…..let’s have a closer look. What do you see? All good art has it….

Interior Styling


Triangulation of elements. I could have done this all day with the example above, but I think you get the point. From Leonardo’s last supper, to the Subway artists of New York City. artists with an eye for description and story telling, whether master or kid with spray can looking over his shoulder while “describing” gravitate intellectually or instinctively toward this compositional description. Why?

Interior Styling

image via kompajunior tumblr

1) Directionality – Look at the image above – step back from your screen. Your eye will likely trace the path drawn by the red seats. Color creates visual pathways that the eye instinctively follows. It provides the artist – or stylist – with a tool that controls the manner in which the viewer interprets their design.

Watch what happens when you reign all that color in and organize it. Now we are getting somewhere…

Interior Styling

Solid Gold by artist Patrick Wilson

2) Use of negative space. Have you ever viewed a Hubble or Chandra image?

Gas Pillars in the Eagle Nebula (M16): Pillars of Creation in a Star-Forming Region

The Horse-head Nebula from Hubble Space Telescope’s website

The magnificence and awe factor comes not only from the spectacular images of the universe – but also the negative space that showcases the grandeur of these pillars of star nurseries. The creative use of negative space defines the ability of the designer (or artist). Below, the strength of the statement is not the blurred image or even the color – the eye is interpreting this image via the negative space.

Interior Styling

Crayon Sculptures by Christian Faur – Design Milk

No, I am not suggesting you must inflect darkness to optimize negative space in interior styling; it works equally well in context to a lighter color scheme.

Interior Styling


3) —and I do mean 3 – unity, balance and rhythm. Most designers consider these separate elements, which in all propriety they are. But my primary education in fine arts disposed me to the belief that they are all inter-connected; like the triangle.

Let’s try it out on some actual interior styling.

Interior Styling

image via Stylebyemilyhenderson

HGTV offers some talented interior stylists that provide great example and instruction in their own right. Emily Henderson, David Bromstad, Candice Olson and Sabrina Soto among a few others excel at lay out and styling. The image above is Emily Henderson’s design and incorporates all the elements above – plus surfaces and textures that co-mingle with the other attributes of her design.

The triangles create the effect of varied heights. The rhythm and flow of color direct the eye through the back drop of negative space, and work in concert with the direction of lines in your design to direct the eye of the viewer.

The best instruction on Interior Styling you can get is to practice – find some elements in your home, based on your attraction to them. When you assemble them on shelves or on a table surface, they will invariably combine to tell a story that uniquely uniquely about you.

Interior Styling

Sarah Yates a house in the hills – painting by Matt Stalling

Interior Styling

image via A House in the hills bog

Get styling! Still dubious? Here are some interior styling resources that provide great info and examples:

Sabrina Soto, whose fabulous book is on the carousel (right) – if you i-users can’t see it, try this link.

Candice Olson’s book is a must for every design lover’s library