We identify some elusive attributes of excellent interiors to get you past “I know it when I see it”
Kjellgren Kaminsky Architecture created rhythm in this dance hall by repeating a pattern of mirrors.
Of course, you don’t have to use all five of these techniques in a single project. Incorporating one or two throughout different components of the design can help to visually unify the space, while still leaving enough variation to keep it from feeling boring.
Many people believe that rhythm is secret to a successful design. It’s the thing that gives top-end interiors that extra hint of polish, and if you can’t quite place why your design feels as though it hasn’t really come together, it’s likely the root of your troubles.
Repetition Rhythm with repetition is based on similar lines, shapes, forms, textures, colors or patterns throughout an interior. This technique gives a room a clear sense of stability and cohesiveness.
For example, the eye follows the continuous movement along this hallway through the use of the repeated architectural upright posts and floor lighting.Ask lighting designers to incorporate floor lighting in your lighting plan
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Part of a home renovation entails thinking about how you want to revamp your interiors. Getting acquainted with the basic principles of interior design, enable you to don your own designer cap and envision the space you’d like to create and live in. We’ve covered balance and harmony so far, and this month we are going to discuss the concept of rhythm. Rhythm in interior design denotes creating visual interest throughout your space by repeating and contrasting visual patterns. Like rhythm in music, rhythm in design brings a sense of movement to a space. It carries the eye along a path at a pace that is comfortable for the viewer.
Radiation With rhythm through radiation, design elements are balanced and repeated around a centerpiece. Here the chairs and vase of flowers radiate off the circular table. The circular light fitting and two wall prints add extra visual stability.
Repetition is a crucial component of rhythm. Image: Studio Duggan Ltd
In interior design, rhythm is all about repetition of design elements that help to create movement within a space. Rhythm may be applied in bold statements that make an obvious suggestion about a path of travel, or more subtly applied to move your eye about a space without you even realizing the rhythm is there.
Contrast can happen with style, too. This traditional dining room has plenty of architectural details already, but the modern paintings hung in a row add an interesting rhythmical contrast.
Create appealing interior designs by working with repetition, gradation, contrast and more
GradationWith gradation the size of the same objects in a room changes from small to large, or a color from light to dark, creating a subtle rhythm that draws the eye up and down the gradation line. The gradated tile in this bathroom creates an ethereal and sophisticated effect.
If supersaturation feels all wet to you, try smaller splashes of color on accessories, architectural details and more
Architectural details do a great job of creating rhythm such as the steps of a staircase, the division of window panes, or; for example, the ceiling beams in this guest house of a farm near Brenham. You can also see a rhythm to the blades of the ceiling fan, stripes in the rug, and the slats of the wooden blinds.
In the photo above on the left, rhythm can be seen in the wallpaper stripes and in the stair railing design. In both spaces, our eyes naturally follow the curve of the railing up and around, thanks to the repeating and alternating patterns of the metal bars. It’s something we might not even realize is happening, but it’s a key element of design that works to make a room feel cohesive and complete.
In order to achieve rhythm in your own home’s design, you’ll have to think about repetition, progression, transition and contrast. Incorporating these mechanisms into your interior, you’ll be able to create a sense of movement, leading the eye from one design element to the next within your home.
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The Barajas Airport by Richard Rogers and Estudio Lamela is an excellent example of rhythm achieved through repetition and progression of colour.
Decorative metal stair railings add interest to a foyer and create a rhythmic path for the eyeto travel.
If you’re ready to take your interiors to the next level, read on below. This guide will help you discover what rhythm is, why it works and how you can apply this principle in your own home. Make an effort to add rhythm into your interiors and we guarantee that you’ll be surprised at just how much of an impact a few simple changes can bring.
Additionally, the quicker we can simplify the information presented to us, the more likely we are to find it aesthetically pleasing. When we incorporate rhythm in interior design, it gives us a set of established patterns to fall back on and allows viewers to take in the room’s sensory information as easily as possible.
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The charming curved lines of these arches draw the eye down the hallway, making it appear longer.
TransitionRhythm through transition subtly leads the eye gently in a continuous, uninterrupted flow from one area to another. In this room the curved lines of this sofa accentuate the curve of the bay window, leading the eye around the space.
Odds are, you’re probably used to hearing about rhythm in connection to music. It’s the thread that ties all the stanzas, bridges and choruses in a song together. However, rhythm in interior design works in much the same way. Though you may never have noticed it before, it’s the subtle pattern that takes all of your individual design elements and ties them together.
We’ve always thought rhythm was the most confusing of all of the principles. It helps us to think of rhythm as the familiar concept in music as the beat that carries the melody.
Alternation is used to create rhythm by alternating two or more elements in a regular pattern. The pattern may be ABCABC or ABBABB, but always repeating in the same order.
Unless you’re already working as an interior designer, you’ve probably never stopped to think about how to incorporate rhythm into your interiors. Now is the time to change that. Rhythm is a subtle visual cue that has a huge impact—positively and negatively—on how your design is viewed by yourself and others. Use this post as your guide on how to harness the power of rhythm to your advantage to give your rooms a professional touch.
The fun and colorful prints along this hallway remind us of notes on a scale.
A natural extension of concept is pattern, specifically because when we call attention to repetition or alternation, we’re essentially recognizing a pattern. Next month, we’ll explore the effects of pattern and texture within design. Stay tuned!
We spend a lot of time talking about breaking interior design down into its distinct components—furniture, textiles, wall art, etc.—but in the end, successful designs occur when each of those parts comes together to form a unified whole.
It’s one thing to understand what the techniques are, but it’s another to understand how to use them appropriately. While there are no hard and fast rules, here are a few examples of how you could work to include rhythm in your home:
Like perception, this is one of the interior design components that you have to feel out rather than relying on precise measurements. As you put the room together, try incorporating rhythm as you see fit. Then, take a step back. If the space feels cohesive and if your eyes move around it easily, leave your design as is. On the other hand, if something feels off, keep making slight adjustments until you feel satisfied.
Rhythm can be bold and loud in order to call your attention to a focal point, or it can be subtle – you may not even realize it’s there. Just the simple act of hanging a series of same-sized works of art in a row down a hallway is an expression of rhythm. In the same way that we find ourselves tapping our feet to the beat of good rhythm in music, achieving rhythm within the home can be surprisingly satisfying. Our eyes naturally search for repetition, alternation, and gradation – and when we find it, our line of sight flows effortlessly across the room, which is a satisfying feeling for both designer and homeowner alike.
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Contrast When a shape or color directly opposes another, it creates contrast — another form of rhythm. This sitting room’s contrast comes from the strong square lines in the fireplace and the curves of the chair and coffee table.
Red and green, opposite each other on the color wheel, create contrast in this hallway. The eye travels from the greenery in the garden to the striking red door and finally settles on the green wall painting.
“It is in rhythm that design and life meet.” – Philip Rawson
Repetition is the simplest way to attain rhythm and can be achieved by repeating any of the elements of design (line, colour, texture and pattern, light, and scale and proportion) or other design concepts in an organized and regular way.
There are five main techniques that you can utilize to encourage the flow of movement throughout your interiors. They are as follows:
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These circular mirrors radiate and repeat around one another, creating a balanced and soothing look that’s much more appealing than just one would have been.Tell us: How do you use rhythm in your home’s architecture or interior design?More: Why There’s Beauty in Grid, Column and RowHow to apply the principle of rhythm outside
Our last blog post introduced the principles of design with a focus on balance. This post will focus on another principle of interior design, rhythm.
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rhythm (n) ˈriT͟Həm/ The flow of elements, usually organized according to a scheme such as repetition or alternation, progression or graduation, transition, opposition or contrast or radiation.
Rhythm can be thought of as a pattern in movement. You can hear it in varied sounds to create music or in the steady drip of a faucet. It can also be seen; think about lines in the sidewalk and how your footsteps relate to the regular breaks. Rhythm can be seen and heard throughout nature and in our built environment through repetition, alternation and progression. These three methods of achieving rhythm can be applied to interior spaces as a way to introduce order, interest and focus, and to help lead your eye through a room.
Successful design keeps the eye interested, allowing us to take in every part of a room’s design. Rhythm is a key design principle that encourages our eyes to move around a room in an organized way. When used well, it brings an underlying unity and sense of variety to our spaces.
The rhythm in most interior designs is based on one of five principles: repetition, gradation, transition, contrast and radiation. Here I’ll show you how to bring these rhythms and a sense of calm to your interiors.
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The floor vases and bench seat cushions in different sizes and heights here are a simple example of gradation using objects. These pieces draw your eye to this vignette and invite you to sit.
The gradation of this paint color not only is a luxurious detail, but makes the room feel extra cozy at bedtime, as if the night sky were slowly creeping into the room. Review professional portfolios for more painting techniques
Rhythm is the cohesive element that brings your design together. Image: Jessica Helgerson Interior Design
Use our tips to incorporate rhythm into your interiors. Image: Robbins Architecture
But one of our favorite examples of rhythm in this room is found in the decorative pattern on the wall behind the bed above. The 1st floor of this free standing guest house is all climate controlled wine storage. So for the guest suite on the second floor, we worked with our wine enthusiast clients to create a focal point by arranging the end panels from crates of their favorite vintages on the wall behind the bed which; even with their random sizes; provide rhythm.
To start, rhythm is one of the seven principles of interior design. It’s used to help our eyes move around a room in an organized manner and thought. Also, it plays a large role in how we perceive the space, both in terms of functionality and whether or not it seems aesthetically pleasing.
A fun dog pattern in a powder bath is playful while providing movement and rhythm within the small space.
Repeating the same-size framed prints in a similar style and color is an easy way to achieve a lovely, gentle rhythm.
Rhythm can also be achieved through progression. Examples are a gradation of colour or a series of objects that start small and become large in a very regular manner.
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Happy spring! Last month, we explored Scale and Proportion within design. Lately, inspired by the arrival of springtime, we’re listening to the songs of chirping birds in the trees and thinking about rhythm. We’ll start by defining rhythm within design.
Back to Basics: The Importance of Rhythm in Interior Design (Plus, How to Make It Work for You)
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When you start to analyze interiors that feel “successful”, rhythm is all around.
There’s even a psychological basis for why we find unified spaces pleasing. According to Gestalt Psychology, a school of thought which focuses on perception, our brains processes information by boiling it down to the simplest recognizable pattern. Meaning, for example, that we’ll register the image above as a dining room before we can focus on any of its individual elements.
Establish zones in an open layout without relying on typical barriers, using changes in material, level, color and more
Do you make an effort to incorporate rhythm into your interiors? If so, do you have any tips you can share? Tell us in the comments below.
The contrasting metal used as edging on these timber stairs adds real punch. The repeating shape allows the eye to flow smoothly down the staircase to the each floor. The furniture perfectly complements the dark color.
Rhythm is a fundamental component of interior design. Image: M A D E R A Surfaces
Repetition Repetition is one of the easiest ways to create a sense of rhythm in a space. Simply put, it is using the same element more than once throughout an interior. You can repeat patterns, colors, textures, lines or any other element within a space.
Tip: Create rhythm by using a color throughout with pillows, paintings, rugs and accessories. Progression Progression is taking an element and decreasing or increasing one of its qualities. For example, using a gradation of colors or using a series of objects that go from small to large in a gradual manner.
Tip: A group of candles with varying heights is an easy way to create rhythm through progression. Contrast Contrast uses two elements in opposition to each other and alternates these in a pattern that creates a sense of rhythm.
You can create contrast with patterns (light and dark) and with shapes (circles and squares). A common example is alternating black and white pillows on a sofa.Tip: Use opposite elements such as black and white pillows to create a rhythm.
Transition Rhythm through transition gently leads the eye through a continuous, uninterrupted flow from one area within a space to another. For example, curved lines are generally used to lead the eye along a desired path.
Tip: Use an arched doorway or winding path to lead the eye where you would like it go.
This restaurant by Soma Architects displays both repetitive rhythm, in the booths and chairs, as well as alternation which can be seen in the pendant lights that hang in groupings with an ABAAAABA rhythm. Progression
The repeating wood slats on the wall of this pizza shop by Baynes & Co Designers creates a playful rhythm and draws your eye through the space. Alternation
Rhythm is rather easy to achieve; the simple act of hanging art together on the wall with equalspacing creates rhythm within a space.
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In interior design, you can think of rhythm as the principal that carries the eye along a path found in the repetitive use of color, pattern, texture, line, etc…