Design Elements

Understanding basic elements of interior design will help you create a kitchen that is both functional and beautiful. The elements of design are the basic tools used for designing an interior space, while design principles act as rules to make effective use of those tools.

Space, line, form, color and texture all work together to create a custom design for your kitchen. The relationship between space/line/form and color/texture is easy to create with the right shapes, materials and finish that  appeal to your personal taste.


Space is the area provided for a particular purpose. In interior design, space is three-dimensional: it has a length, width and height. The size of a space can contribute to a positive or negative feeling. A large open space may give a room an airy, relaxed feeling, or it can cause the room to feel unwelcoming and stark. In comparison, a small room can be comfortable and cozy or may seem crowded and give a sense of a hectic and chaotic feeling.


Line is a basic design element that refers to the continuous movement of a point along a surface. Each line evokes an emotional response and conveys a different feeling. A few points about the effect of line in kitchen design and layout:

• Vertical lines transmit a dignified and formal feeling and cause the eye to move upward, adding visual height.
• Horizontal lines are restful, calm and the most stable of all line forms.
• The eye travels side-to-side along a horizontal line, widening the area or object being viewed.
• Large curved lines with long waves are relaxing, gentle and suggest joy.
• Small curved lines with very short waves suggest excitement and energy.
• Diagonal lines relay a feeling of drama and can add tension to a room.


Everything has a form, or a physical shape. Form can be measured from top to bottom (height), side to side (width) and back to front (depth). There are two types of form: man-made and organic. In relationship to their surroundings, forms can be boring or interesting. It is important to use form creatively to make sure it complements the mood and design of the space.

• Man-made forms are often geometric and are more symmetrical
• Organic forms are found naturally and are more asymmetrical


Color, seen either on the surface of an object or in colored light sources, appeals directly to the emotions and sets the mood for a space. “Hue” is the technical name given to a color as it is reflected. Neutral and less visually invasive hues are calming and comfortable, whereas bright and bold colors make a room exciting or give a feeling of restlessness. Color, used to establish a mood, draw attention to a focal point or to disguise an unfavorable feature can be a powerful element in kitchen design. Black, white, and shades of gray are as effective in good design as shades of red, blue, or green.


There are two types of texture: tactile and implied. Tactile texture is what is felt when an object is physically touched. Implied texture is the visual quality of an object interpreted by one’s eye rather than touch. Like all other elements of design, texture can also trigger an emotional response. For example, rough. Course texture suggests a rugged, sturdy quality. Additionally, fine, smooth texture suggests formality and elegance. Everything has texture and its use can add flair, personality, and variety to any design.
Having an understanding of the elements of design will help you put them into use. See Design Principles for the next steps on how to make the elements interact to effectively communicate the right message and personality for your room..

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Related Topics

Want a great kitchen? Learn more with the topics below to help keep your remodel plan on time, on task and on budget.
Designing Your Kitchen
Design Principles
The Work Triangle
Kitchen Layouts
Open Kitchen Design