Design Principles: Rhythm & Emphasis

22 02 2010

I am going to try and make this post short and sweet since I think that rhythm and emphasis are 2 of the easier concepts to understand.


Personally, I think the hardest part of rhythm is spelling it!!

The Definition: Rhythm is based on the repetition of elements in space.  This repetition not only creates visual unity but also induces a rhythmic continuity of movement.

Since rhythm it is all about repetition we can take any type of item from furniture to structural elements like a column and repeat, repeat, repeat in a pattern or line.  This establishes a unity within the space that is three dimensional and easy to follow.

The picture above from Coastal Living-Jan 2010 shows an elegant use of rhythm in the columns adjoined with lattice work.  They also used the principle in the ceiling, seating and fans.  By using the same elements over and over they really pulled together the space and made it one inviting patio!


The Definition: The coexistence of dominate and subordinate elements in the composition of an interior setting.  A design without any dominant elements would be bland and monotonous.

However, if there are too many assertive elements the design would be cluttered and chaotic, detracting from what may be truly important.  Each part of design should be given proper significance according to its degree of importance in the overall scheme.

It is obvious what Kerry Delrose (designer) wants you to notice in her design featured in House Beautiful (July 2009).  This chair is an excellent point of emphasis since it has such subdued surroundings in black, tan and white.  The pop of red-orange is just want this room needed.

It is more of a subtle approach in this all white kitchen design seen in Metropolitan Home Magazine.  But Melissa Palazzo of Pal + Smith knows where to make her pop of color count.  The simple artwork in aqua next to its complimentary color of orange and a little green really make this room stand out (even though its main color is white).  She even put a glass vase in the foreground to really drive home the emphasis that turquoise makes in the room.  In my opinion, well done Melissa!

So there you have it.  Like I said, short and sweet.  Don’t you think that emphasis really adds to the room in a way that none of the other principles can?  Basically saying, it is what you focus the room around when you are making a design.  What is your favorite emphasis in your own house?  Is it an old heirloom that has been passed down thru the years?  Or may be it is a fantastic piece of art that you have displayed in all its glory.  Since I love hearing from you fill me in with your favorite bit of emphasis.




One response

26 02 2010
Sarah Beaubien

Oh my gosh! That is my DREAM BED!! I have been looking for it everywhere! Thanks Sharon for finding and posting it!

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