February 27, 2024

Interior Design Fundamentals: Designing Spaces That Speak to You

Whether you're looking to refresh your current home or are interested in creating designs that speak to you, understanding the basics of interior design can help you create a space you truly love. 

In this guide, we'll walk you through the key principles and elements of interior design, and show you how to think like a pro when it comes to transforming your spaces. Scattered throughout, we’ll include tips from Palazzo’s resident interior designer, Adnan Anwar. Let’s jump in! 

Key elements of interior design 

Interior design is not just about decorating a room - it's about creating a space that reflects your personality and meets your needs. There’s a lot to think about when reimagining a room, so let’s break down a few of the key elements that bring spaces to life: color, pattern, lighting, and layout


When you think about the design of a room, color might be the first thing that comes to mind. And there’s a good reason for that – colors make an impact! They have the power to evoke emotions and set the tone for a room. Warm hues like red, orange, and yellow create a cozy and inviting atmosphere, perfect for gathering with friends and family. On the other hand, cool colors like blue, green, and purple can bring a sense of tranquility and calm to a space, making them ideal for bedrooms or relaxation areas. 

When it comes to wall colors, you've got options! You can go all out with a fresh coat of paint on every wall. Or, if you're feeling bold and want to make a statement, go for an accent wall that instantly grabs attention. And don't forget about the fifth wall - yes, the ceiling! Painting your ceiling in a bold color can add drama and personality to any room.  

A sitting room with a bold spash of the color red in a large art piece, centered over a table with three chairs

Design credit: Brian McCarthy

But don't stop at just wall color - incorporating color through textiles, furniture, and accessories can add depth and variety to your room. Think vibrant throw pillows, a bold area rug, or a statement piece of furniture in a standout color.  

Pro Tip: "Be honest with yourself about how much color you want in your life, plus how easily you get bored of a color palette. If you’re feeling squeamish, listen to that instinct.

Add color in places that are secondary and relatively easy to swap out, like pillows, art, and lamps. Or, if you want to paint your walls, keep it in spaces where you don’t spend extended periods of time."

- Adnan Anwar

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to color. It's all about finding the shades that speak to you and reflect your unique personality. The possibilities are endless! 


Now let’s talk about patterns! When done correctly, patterns add personality and visual interest to your space. Whether you're into bold geometric prints or delicate floral motifs, patterns are great for telling a story and reflecting your unique style. 

When it comes to incorporating patterns into your interior design, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, consider the scale of the pattern. Large-scale patterns can make a statement and add drama to a room, while smaller-scale patterns can be more subtle. It's all about finding the right balance and making sure the pattern doesn't overpower the space. 

A kitchen with a boldly patterned green backsplash and gold circles on the white cabinets

Design credit: Martyn Lawrence Bullard

Next, think about where and how to use patterns. You can go all out and create statement rooms with bold wallpapers, or you can sprinkle smaller doses of patterns throughout rooms with accent chairs, rugs, or curtains. Mixing and matching different patterns adds a dynamic and eclectic feel, but be careful not to go overboard and end up with a clash of patterns that would make even the most confident interior designer cringe. 

Pro Tip: "If you’re mixing patterns, it’s key to vary scales, textures, and varieties. Cut velvet, epingle, embroidery, printed velvet, and printed linen all have their own magic. So do global prints (chinoiserie, ikat, block print, wax print, mud cloth…can you tell I love these?), stripes, checks, animal prints, florals, and figurative prints.

Try to pick at least three of these categories. Just make sure to ground them with solids and have a range of scales for a more balanced look."

- Adnan Anwar

And lastly, let's not forget about texture! Texture can add another layer of visual interest to your space, and it pairs beautifully with patterns. Think about incorporating textured fabrics, like a chunky knit throw or a faux fur pillow, to create a cozy and inviting vibe. 


Have you ever walked into a room that felt cold and dreary, or one that instantly lifted your spirits? That's the power of lighting! It can completely transform the mood and atmosphere of a space. Think about it: soft, warm lighting can make a cozy reading nook feel even more inviting, while bright lighting in the kitchen helps you chop those veggies with ease. 

When it comes to lighting, there are some key principles to keep in mind. First, consider the natural light in your space and how you can maximize its potential. Opening up curtains or adding skylights can flood your room with sunlight.  

A well-lit bedroom filled with natural sunlight from the window and a metal and glass chandelier over the bed. The room features floral wallpaper and pastel tones

Design credit: Summer Thornton

Then, layer in different types of artificial lighting to create depth and functionality. Ambient lights provide a soft overall glow, task lights brighten up specific areas, and accent lights highlight your favorite features, like that impressive art collection or funky statement wall. 

Pro Tip: "You can never have too many lamps - they set the mood in a way overhead lighting cannot. Try to minimize recess and task lighting to where it’s really needed.

In a standard living room, I try to have at least four lamps. Mix floor and table lamps so you have light at different heights and to avoid things looking cluttered. There are even great floor lamps that double as drink tables."

- Adnan Anwar

Now, let's talk bulbs! Light bulbs come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. To set the right ambiance, you'll want to choose the right color temperature. Warmer tones, like those cozy candlelit dinners, fall into the "soft white" or "warm white" range. Meanwhile, a cooler temperature in the "daylight" or "cool white" spectrum can make a space feel fresh and vibrant. And remember, LED bulbs are energy-efficient and long-lasting, which makes both the Earth and your wallet very happy. 


Picture this: you walk into your living room, and suddenly it feels like you're navigating a labyrinth. You're constantly zigzagging between furniture, and it's not exactly the relaxed and harmonious space you envisioned. Enter space planning - the art of arranging furniture and creating functional flow. 

When it comes to space planning, you want to optimize the layout of a room to suit your needs. Think about how you'll use the space and the activities that will take place within it. Consider the size and shape of your furniture pieces, making sure they fit comfortably and allow for easy movement. You don't want to be bumping into things or stubbing your toe on that pesky coffee table. 

A well-designed living room with an interesting layout, including two couches and three chairs centered around a plush ottoman

Design credit: Suzanne Kasler

An open-concept layout can make a room feel spacious and airy, while a more defined layout can create cozy nooks and zones for different activities. Don't be afraid to experiment with different furniture arrangements, and don't forget the importance of leaving breathing room between pieces. 

Pro Tip: "I think the most effective living rooms have a layout with multiple seating areas, so when you entertain, people can break up into groups. It’s awkward when large groups are all seated in a circle.

Also, sectionals might not be the best choice! They can limit you when you move if the configuration of your room changes, and they make it hard to have a visually balanced and optimally sized coffee table. Unless it’s an L shape in the corner, I generally think a sofa and chairs or a sofa with a loveseat and chairs makes for a more effective seating arrangement."

- Adnan Anwar

Where to start when redesigning your space 

Feeling overwhelmed by the thought of redesigning your space? Don't fret! Follow these simple steps to kickstart your interior design journey: 

  1. Find inspiration: Gather ideas from magazines, Pinterest boards, and yes, even your favorite TV shows. Keep track of what elements and pieces resonate with you and start envisioning how they could work in your space. 

  1. Discover your style: Take a look at popular design styles to get a sense of what you like and don’t like. Are you more mid-century modern or cottagecore? If you’re not sure where to start or you’re not finding a perfect fit, we’ve got you covered. Take our Aesthetic DNA Quiz to discover your personal design style, tailored to your unique taste. 

Take Palazzo's Aesthetic DNA Quiz to discover your personal style
  1. Set a budget: Before diving headfirst into a design project, it's important to establish a budget. Decide how much you're willing to invest in your transformation and allocate funds accordingly. Remember, creating a beautiful space doesn't have to break the bank! 

  1. Consider your lifestyle: Think about how you will use your spaces. Are you an avid entertainer? Do you work from home? Do you have pets? Tailor your design choices to suit your specific needs and preferences. After all, the space should function seamlessly with your lifestyle. 

  1. Visualize your designs: Now, here comes the exciting part - bringing your design ideas to life! Visualizing your concepts before committing is crucial. That's where Palazzo steps in. With cutting-edge AI technology, Vinci brings your designs to life right before your eyes. It allows you to experiment with different styles and finishes in any space without any guesswork or buyer's remorse! You'll see exactly how those new curtains will look with your existing furniture and whether that bold accent wall color is a total vibe or a total disaster. 

A before and after image created with Palazzo.ai featuring a styling living room. The before image is traditional with neutral tones, and the after image is modern with bright colors and bold patterns

Design credit: Vinci Design - Palazzo

Congratulations! You're now equipped with the knowledge and inspiration to tackle your next design adventure. Remember, interior design is all about empowering yourself and telling your unique story through your spaces. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!


© 2024 Palazzo. All rights reserved.


© 2024 Palazzo. All rights reserved.

© 2024 Palazzo. All rights reserved.