The 6 Principles of Interior Design

Interior Design

There are basic interior design principles that can be used together or separately to decorate your living space according to your desired style. The following six principles are of the highest priority and importance to keep in mind when designing an interior space:

  • Balance
  • Emphasis
  • Contrast
  • Rhythm
  • Scale and Proportion
  • Harmony and Unity

Each of these principles comes into play when choosing whether or not to have matching furniture, though a few of the principles come into greater focus than others. Balance, for instance, is one of the most significant principles affected by the presence or absence of matching furniture. 

This section aims to provide a greater understanding of how each individual principle affects or is affected by matching décor elements, such as matching furniture. Understanding this relationship between design principles and furniture or décor is important for decorating a room in a manner that is purposefully visually appealing. 

According to Interiors Info

“Interior design plays a very important role in our life today, making our lifestyle more modern and stylish. Not only that it also introduces us to elegance and comfort and helps to raise the functionality in our life.”


In design, balance is how the “weight” of visual objects is distributed throughout a space. These objects can include furniture such as a sofa, coffee table, nightstand lamps, but balance also accounts for other elements such as color and size. There are three different types of balance: 

  • Symmetrical Balance: This type of balance allows for the space or room to be split down the middle with two identical sides. 
  • Asymmetrical Balance: This type of balance does not replicate exact shapes, colors, objects, etc. on either side of a space. The balance is purposefully shifted and is considered more complex to achieve.
  • Radial Balance: This type of balance focuses on an object or other design element placed in the center of the space and the rest of the room’s décor radiating around it. 

In the case of decorating with matching lamps, the balance would be symmetrical in nature. Two lamps of the same size and design on nightstands placed on either side of a bed create the exact same imagery reflected on both sides. 


Emphasis is the use of surrounding objects and décor to bring focus onto a central object that is the focal point of a room. This employs the benefits of balance to ensure that areas around the focal point do not stand out too much and instead help draw attention to the object being emphasized.

In a bedroom, the bed is typically the main focal point, making nightstands and lamps objects used to emphasize the bed. By placing matching lamps on either side of the bed, elements of the lamps can accentuate aspects of the bed. An example of this would be using matching lamps that share a similar color used in bedding.  


Contrast is used to make two opposing objects, shapes, or colors stand out against one another in order to bring greater complexity and visual interest to a space. According to UX Collective, contrast is often used as an initial attention grabber to bring a viewer’s focus in on the elements of the space to be observed.

UX Collective further states:

“The more the difference between the elements, the greater they are easy to compare and comprehend and that’s when they are said to have contrasted with each other.”

Nightstand lamps can be used to contrast either other objects or each other. If the lamps are matching, they can be used as statement pieces that contrast other colors or shapes in the room, whereas if they are not matching, they can be used to contrast each other. 

Rhythm and Movement

Rhythm and movement refer to how objects and décor are placed throughout a space to move a visitor’s eye around the room from one item to the next, and ideally how the room draws in attention to a central focal point. 

In this way, using matching lamps is a way to bring the eye around the perimeter of the sofa to appreciate details such as lamp or end tables design, as well as edge details on bedding and the bed frame. 

All other principles come together to create a sense of rhythm and movement within a space. Understanding how the placements of objects can affect the visual experience of a visitor is an important consideration to keep in mind. 

Scale and Proportion

Scale and proportion refer to the size of objects and décor within a room and how those sizes measure up against one another. An important concept within the principle of scale and proportion is the golden ratio.

According to the

“The golden mean, also known as the golden ratio, is a common mathematical ratio found in nature, that is used to create pleasing compositions in art. It is widely regarded and used by artists and graphic designers to bring harmony and structure to their work.”

Mathematically, the golden ratio is approximately equal to a 1:1.618 ratio and can be used to determine how high to build ceilings, where to place plants and furniture, and how to choose object sizes so that the proportions within room maintain the ratio. 

Being considerate of furniture size and proportionality to other objects in the room is crucial for making a room visually appealing. Thus, using matching furniture is an excellent way to represent and reflect proportion within a room. 

Harmony and Unity

Harmony and unity as a principle describe how objects within a space fit together both thematically and visually. It represents cohesiveness of the other principles within a designed space and is achieved by using décor that can be paired together in a complementary way. 

Using matching lamps is a good and easy way to establish an initial sense of harmony within a room. This can be furthered by using similar colors, shapes, or designs seen within the lamps around the rest of the room to visually tie everything together. 



Hi there! I’m Alex, the one behind this website. I ran and operated a Local Furniture Store in Southern California. The store opened in 2010, during the “Great Recession,” It is still thriving today; however, I have dedicated my time to helping our online customer base. My primary focus is to help you with all your furniture & mattress questions.

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