A few weeks ago, Mere mentioned to me that she loves when I do “design lesson” posts and share some of the knowledge and skills I use in my day job. I aim to please, so I’ve put together a series on the elements and principles of design. Why do certain rooms sing and others fall flat? In a word: harmony.
The five principles of design are harmony, proportion, balance, rhythm and emphasis. Of them all, harmony is the most essential to a pleasing composition. Why? Because creating a harmonious living space is exactly what good design is all about. All of the other elements and principles of design are used to create harmony in the finished space.
Harmony is the pleasing and orderly arrangement of all design parts so that they form a consistent and satisfying whole. In the room shown above, the layering of neutrals in different intensities and textures works with the accent colours, which are repeated several times so that they make sense. There is enough furniture to fill the room, but not so much that it feels crowded.
Harmony does not mean that everything has to “match”. Because one of today’s strongest design trends leans toward eclecticism, creating interest in a room design by mixing a variety of design elements is a wonderful option. But, while having a single element or two out of harmony with everything else in a room may give that room a distinctive and personal touch, having most of the major elements opposed to each other in mood, line and color produces confusion and an unpleasant sense of discord.
In this living space, the palette is neutral, but the animal print on the accent chair and the side tables keep it from falling flat. Similarly, the furniture and architectural elements in the space have strong symmetry, offset by individual pieces to add interest.
Harmony is also very important when placing artwork and accessories in a room. Accessories need to be chosen and placed in relationship to the other elements in the room. The mix of colour, size, and shape of lamps, art, mirrors, and other decorative accents can go a long way towards creating harmony.
There’s more than one way to create harmony in any given room design. I also think that harmony takes time to develop as you add, edit, and tweak pieces within your overall design framework.
Have you achieved harmony in your home, or is it still a work in progress?