Dramatic Interior Design - How to give it the "WOW" Factor

Posted by Michael Foran on Thu, Jan 10, 2013 @ 08:18 AM
Michael Foran

Why do some rooms look great and others just look ordinary?

It has to do with the elements and principles of design.

Elements                                          Principles

Form                                                 Rhythm (Repetition)

Space                                                Scale

Light                                                 Balance

Color                                                 Variety

Line                                                   Harmony

Texture                                             Emphasis (focal point)


The point in writing this article is to give you practical and easy- to -understand ways to make your space exceptional (give it the "WOW" factor), so I am not going to get into a lot of design theory. I am going to tell you how to take the Elements of Design and show you how to use them through the Principles of Design.

Design Principles


Your room should be balanced with the location of furniture or other objects, as well as balancing the size of objects.

Your room should also be balanced with the use of color and light.  Balance can be symmetrical, asymmetrical or radial.

Symmetrical is the easiest way to balance a room because you just repeat the same item on either side of a given point.

Asymmetrical can be more creative and interesting.  You need to balance the visual weight or color around the room.  If you have a large piece of furniture on one side of the room, you need to balance it with several smaller items on the other side of the room.

Radial symmetry is where items or colors are arranged around a center point, like chairs are arranged around a round table. 


This living room has both symmetrical balance and rhythm (repeating curves)

Rhythm (repetition)

Rhythm creates visual interest in a room and I believe is one of the most important principles in achieving the WOW factor.  When you look at a room and you really like the way it feels and looks, it will usually have great rhythm. 

Rhythm is achieved by repeating elements like color, line and shape.  If you pick out an end table with a soft curve on the leg, then you should repeat a similar curve on other items.  The curve could repeat on a chair, a bow front chest or on an accessory.  This doesn’t mean all your pieces will have the same curve because this would be too much.

 You can also achieve rhythm by repeating similar colors or similar shapes. When good rhythm is achieved, your eye will move around the room and you will not see items, instead you will see a beautiful room.

“I deeply believe that a beautiful décor can have a beneficial influence on our life.”  Albert Hadley


SCALE:  the biggest mistake people make

   I have gone into a lot of homes where people have bought furniture from High Point, North Carolina, or online, and they ended up with the wrong size piece (a costly mistake).  

   A lot of the new furniture is scaled to fit in new homes with higher ceilings so you don’t want to use these pieces, if you have 8’ ceilings.  If you are moving from a home with 8’ ceilings into a new home with high ceilings and large rooms, your old furniture will probably be too small.

   Look at the furniture—three dimensionally.  Measure on the wall where you are thinking of a piece and make it as wide and as high as the piece actually is.   Then stand back and look to see if the scale is right.


The chandeliers are the right scale for this large kitchen island.

 Conversation grouping

Harmony (Unity)

Harmony can be achieved when color (in fabrics, paint, accessories, etc.) and shapes (in furniture, architecture of home, accessories, etc.) and textures (in fabrics, finishes, rugs, etc.) combine to look like they all belong together.

Conversational grouping


This room has great harmony and balance.

Emphasis- focal point

Every room deserves a focal point.  This is another principle where you can add the WOW factor.  Your room can have one or more than one focal point.  It might be a fireplace or a beautiful armoire.  A focal point should draw your eye to it and should be interesting.  The focal point must still tie into the rest of your design with the right shape, color and style.  This is a great way to add drama and excitement to your room.

Architectural Design

This client wanted her room to be exceptional. I designed this dramatic room with more than one focal point. Check out the before picture of this room.     Before



This is where you can add unique items, such as accessories from a special trip and interesting details, such as faux paint treatments or a mural.  You could use a contrasting paint on an accent wall or a faux animal skin on a carved chair.  You shouldn’t overdo variety but you should have fun with it.

“Rooms should be timeless.”   Sister Parish

A Luxury Interior Designer can give your room the "WOW" factor.

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Topics: artwork, Luxury Interior Design, Architectural Design