Rhythm and Interior Design
by Nikki Willhite
Most people are aware of the importance of color when they
decorate. Most people also have a pretty good idea of space layout and how to
Not so well understood is the importance of rhythm. I imagine
that some might think rhythm is simply putting matching lamps on the sides of
your sofa or bed.
Rhythm is important in every art. You achieve rhythm when
you have clusters of similar items.
Nature is full of examples of rhythm. It is in a forest of
similar trees. It is in the wildflowers scattered across a field. It is in
formation of similar looking clouds across the sky.
We achieve rhythm when we crochet and knit by doing the same
stitch over and over. When we quilt we repeat colors and shapes.
We even do it when dressing but putting the same style shoe on
both our left and right foot.
Rhythm can be "quiet", or it can be "loud." Lack of rhythm is
always obvious, such as in a house that has different carpet in each room.
Rhythm done correctly is subtle, but gives a serene feeling to a
home. No matter what the colors in your home, they need to work together to
achieve a harmonious feeling. Accent colors, which are usually stronger, need to
be repeated at least a couple times throughout the space.
We strive for rhythm in wood tones. It is difficult to put a
mahogany furniture piece in a room with a piece of furniture made from pine.
Mahogany is formal, and pine informal. Again we are striving for rhythm in the
decor of the formality of the room.
Repetition is the most important element of rhythm. Repeat
colors and shapes. Use matching chairs. When using small accessories, such as
candles, use three that match and cluster them together.
Remember those old high school tests.... "what number comes
next... 2, 4, 6, 8....?" Rhythm can also be achieved by creating diagonal lines.
In decor magazines you will always see large pillows at the head of beds, and
then a parade of pillows going forward, getting progressively smaller.
Movement creates rhythm. Imagine a big wooden piece of
furniture placed in the middle of a room. When you look into that room, your eye
will immediately go to that piece of furniture and stop. It is jarring. There is
no flow and no rhythm.
When you create a conversation group around a sofa, you turn the
chairs placed across from the sofa so that they are at an angle. This helps move
the eye around the room, creating rhythm. Curved lines are "friendly", and
invite the eye to move around the room. Hard edges stop the eye. It takes a
skilled decorator to soften a room with a lot of hard edges.
If there is something bothering you about your decor, look around
and see if you have any elements of rhythm in your room. You may need to do
nothing more than add a pair of matching picture frames to get the rhythm you
need to make your room more appealing.
About the Author: Nikki Willhite,
mother of 3 and an interior design graduate, has been writing and publishing
articles on the topic of
frugal living for over a
decade. Visit her at
- where you will find hundreds of frugal living tips and articles. Frugal
Happy Families- more than just money!