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Four Key Interior Design Principles You Should Never Ignore

Discover how to style your home like the professionals do with GetSmarter’s eye-opening 10-week Interior Design online short course.


Interior Design | House and Leisure

As all House and Leisure readers know by now, when decorating a space from scratch it’s important to consider all the elements that make up successful interior design. Without them, your home runs the risk of design disarray. But understanding how to apply some of the most important principles every professional interior designer follows isn’t easy.

So, House and Leisure has partnered with GetSmarter for a 10-week Interior Design online short course that will help you take the first step in creating a space you’ve always dreamed of.

In the meantime, and to whet your appetite for the course, here are a few key interior design principles and tips from the GetSmarter interior design pros: 

Interior Design | House and Leisure


When planning your home’s layout, proper balance gives you a sense of equilibrium and flow. The shape, size, texture and colour of interior pieces can have a big impact on their presence in a room.

When curating your space, consider these three types of spatial balance:

1. Symmetrical balance: elements are on either side of the centre of a composition in an equally weighted manner. 

2. Asymmetrical balance: the two sides are not identical, but the elements are still arranged so that there is a sense of balance.

3. Radial balance: layout is based around a circle with its design extending from the centre.

Interior Design | House and Leisure

Proportion and scale

Many would-be decorators make the mistake of buying furniture they love without considering the space it will live in.

This can leave a room looking either bare or overcrowded. Always map out your space and take measurements before committing to decor. And mark the dimensions of furniture pieces using tape to see how much space you actually have to work with.


When picking out pieces, it’s important that they align aesthetically. To create harmony, all the elements of your design should fit together in either theme, visual-design style or mood. This creates a sense of cohesion, making the room easier on the eye.

A simple way to achieve harmony is through colour – choose three or four complementary hues and use them throughout your home.


Contrast in interior design can be created through colour, texture, shape and space. For example, you can use prints or patterned scatter cushions of two opposite colours to help an object pop, or combine two contrasting forms – such as a rectangular couch and circular coffee table – to distribute the attention between both pieces.

Dividing the room into usable positive and negative spaces can also help you achieve this effect.

ALSO READ: Five Minutes With Interior Designer Heather Boting

Putting your ideas on paper

If you want to design your space as well as the professionals do, using a visual representation to map out your plans can take your layout to the next level.

Many interior designers draw up their plans using software like SketchUp. This helps them envision their projects before buying any furniture.

There are also a host of apps to help you along the way. The Measure app transforms your phone’s camera into a measuring device using augmented reality; the magicplan app lets you easily create a custom floor plan of your interior; and of course, there’s always Pinterest for design inspiration.

At the end of the day, you know what you want your space to look like, so why not empower yourself with the skills to turn that vision into a reality? If you’re interested in decorating your home like the pros, or would like to become a professional interior designer yourself one day, GetSmarter’s 10-week Interior Design online short course will help to equip you with the foundations. The course covers all aspects of interior design, from running a business to the practical skills for using SketchUp software. Most importantly, it provides a comprehensive overview of all the interior elements that contribute to great interior design and decorating, giving you the tools to create a home you’re proud to show off.

Right now, all House and Leisure readers get R2000 off one of these online short courses by leading South African universities offered by GetSmarter.

Simply visit our special-offer page here to discover how to activate your discount – as well as read all about the full range of online short courses by leading SA institutions that are on offer.

ALSO READ: The HL Team's Pick Of The Best Online Short Courses By GetSmarter

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