The Principles of Design for Kitchens and Bathrooms
Good design is defined as unity of design and a timeless look. But to achieve unity and an evergreen look one must give consideration to all the principles of design. Remodeling your kitchen and bathroom is so much more than selecting fixtures and painting the walls. A good remodel will have a well thought out design concept that begins with the principles of design as its foundation.
The principles are balance, rhythm, emphasis/focal point, scale, proportion, and harmony/unity. In order to have a better understanding of these concepts we will look at each at it pertains to bathroom remodel planning and kitchen planning.
Let’s start with balance which is the distribution of the visual weight of objects, colors, textures and space. On a recent powder room design a client requested tile to be installed above the vanity all the way up the wall and considered tiling the whole wall not just above the vanity. The powder room being very small could only visually support a small amount of tile without making the space feel bulky or heavy. Based on the principle of balance we opted for less is more and decided not to do the whole wall. Thought was also given to the light pendants we chose, again wanting to keep the room balanced we chose streamline lights that had very little bulk and clear glass to keep the balance of the space feeling light. These decisions helped the design of this small room feel spacious even with the lack of square footage.
Moving onto rhythm. The easiest way to create rhythm within a space is to repeat elements of design which can include line, shape, texture, color, pattern and light. In a recent bathroom project we used floral like mosaic in the shower, on the floor and on an accent wall. We repeated the pattern in several areas over mute color tile to give the bathroom rhythm. In a recent kitchen we used straight lines on the cabinet doors, hardware, light fixtures and furniture to create rhythm and flow. The idea is to keep the eye moving in a natural way that makes one feel relaxed and comfortable in the space and never overwhelmed.
Emphasis/focal point is one of my favorite principles of design to work with. Here the idea is to showcase a portion of the design and hold the viewer’s attention. Often referred to as the “wow” factor one can be as creative as they want as long as thought is given to the rest of the design principles. One of my favorite design projects was a master bathroom that was designed in all marble. The entire bathroom was jaw dropping so creating a focal point meant we had to get creative. The solution was building a false wall to house a fireplace and wall to wall niche tiled in herringbone which was accented with sun from a skylight. Though the entire space was breathtaking everyone who entered held their attention to the false wall we created. Focal point achieved!
Scale refers to the relationship of two or more objects, one that has a commonly known size. In a kitchen we know the average prep sink is 12×12. When selecting a faucet for this sink it would not be appropriate to select a large goose neck or commercial kitchen faucet.
Proportion is an obvious principle and easy to spot if it’s not calculated correctly. Simply put, one can not have a nine foot walk in shower in a bathroom that is only 8×9. The proportion of the shower is overwhelming and too large for the space. Likewise we would not use a giant chandelier meant for cathedral ceiling in a kitchen with eight foot ceilings. Scale and proportion go hand in hand and are a very important part of good design.
Harmony is all the different elements coming together to create a well thought out and beautiful design. In a recent mid-century makeover we gave thought to every element we added to the space. We chose dark blue tile, bold gold fixtures, walnut colored cabinets and turn of the century lights. Once all the elements were combined the harmony of the space was obvious. We would not have added polk-a-dots or nickel finishes to this design. Anything outside mid-century would have disrupted the flow.
Design has endless possibilities and with the right care given to the principles of design any bathroom or kitchen can be turned into a showplace!