Lines are one of the basic principles of design. They are a consistent element throughout all types of design that have a strong influence on the result. There are three types of lines: vertical, horizontal, and dynamic. Dynamic lines refer to diagonal and curved lines. Each type of line has a different impact on how a space looks and feels by guiding the eye and shaping the room, so you can manipulate a space visually by the way you use them in your decor.
The architecture of your room may already be emphasizing one or more of these lines. For example:
- Columns, windows, and doorways create vertical lines.
- Beams, chair rail, and wainscot create horizontal lines.
- Stairs create a diagonal line.
- Arches, palladium windows, and rounded corners on walls create curved lines.
If your room has no strong architectural elements that lend itself to either line, don’t worry – you can also create them using furniture, accessories, and other design elements in a space. Once you know the result you are after, you can use lines to help you achieve it in various ways.
DECORATING WITH LINES
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Here is a breakdown of what effect each type of line can have on a space and some ways you can use them to elevate your decor.
Vertical lines lend an air of formality and a sense of grandeur to a room, so they are typically considered more traditional. A masculine quality is attributed to vertical lines but that’s not to say that they can’t be used in a feminine space. They convey strength, balance, and elevation by drawing the eye upward and bringing a feeling of height to a space. They can make rooms seem taller and wide spaces seem narrower, making them an extremely useful design element in rooms with low ceilings or that lack of a sense of coziness.
Some ways to create vertical lines with decorating:
- Hang curtains from ceiling to floor. It doesn’t matter if your window is that tall or not; the higher you hang the curtain, the taller the window and your room will look. When hanging from the ceiling, install your brackets so that the top of the curtain is just a few inches below the crown molding or if you don’t have crown molding, a few inches below the ceiling.
- Put vertical stripes on the wall. You can paint them on or add wallpaper with a vertical design. Paint is easier to change than wallpaper, so keep this in mind when deciding which way you want to go.
- Use tall pieces of furniture and place accessories on top of them to draw the eye up.
- Hang large pieces of artwork. If you can’t find one piece of art that is tall enough, hang a few smaller ones in a vertical composition.
- Bring vertical stripes into a space via pillows, upholstery, and area rugs.
SHOP THE LOOK
Horizontal lines convey a sense of security and relaxation by grounding the space. They bring the eye level down and visually lower the ceiling in a space to create a sense of intimacy. They can also create length to make a room feel longer or to widen a narrow space. If there’s a specific focal point you want to draw attention to, horizontal lines can be used to direct the eye to it. Opposite to vertical lines, they are considered more modern and contemporary in style.
Some ways to create horizontal lines with decorating:
- Add a chair rail. Using contrasting paint colors above and below a chair rail will help to lessen the height of a very tall room by visually cutting the wall in half.
- Install wainscoting to chair rail height then paint it the same color as the baseboards.
- Hang pictures in a vertical composition just above a chair rail or over a low piece of furniture.
- Put horizontal stripes on the wall. As mentioned above, you can use paint or wallpaper to create your vertical lines. Try painting wide stripes around an entire room for a bold contemporary statement. If you have a short hallway, this is a great way to make it feel longer.
- Bring horizontal stripes into a space via pillows, upholstery, and area rugs.
SHOP THE LOOK
Diagonal lines infuse a sense of energy into a space, bringing interest, life, and movement to it. They can direct the eye upward or downward, add volume to a space, and make it feel larger depending on how they’re used. You can also use diagonal lines to create a smooth transition from a space with vertical lines to one with horizontal lines and vice versa.
Some ways to create diagonal lines with decorating:
- Add diagonal lines to the wall. Chevron, harlequin, and diamond patterns are all examples of diagonal lines that can be created with paint, wallpaper, or molding.
- Add a contemporary style bookcase that has diagonal shelves. The shelves are tilted at a 45 degree angle creating diagonal lines.
- Bring in a wine rack. Choose a style that has the same angled shelves as the bookcase mentioned above.
- Bring diagonal patterns into a space via pillows, upholstery, and area rugs.
SHOP THE LOOK
Curved lines are playful, organic, and soothing. Like diagonal lines, they bring interest, life, and movement to a space, but they do so with a sense of fluidity and flow. They can be used to soften vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines that are also present in the room. The soft curves provide a feminine quality to balance out harsh lines or features.
Some ways to create curved lines with decorating:
- Add curved lines to the wall. Swirls, polka dots, and floral patterns are all examples of curved lines and can be created with paint, wallpaper, or molding.
- Hang a large round mirror on the wall or a grouping of smaller round mirrors.
- Bring curved lines into a space via pillows, upholstery, and area rugs.
SHOP THE LOOK
As you can see, lines can do some amazing things in decorating. Are you getting any ideas on how you can use them in your home? Let me know in the comments!
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