A lot of people wonder what makes a well-designed home different from, well, one that is not. I have dwelled over this question for many years and have finally concluded that there are 5 key design elements that each home needs. Each of these 5 need to be blended together in balance to get that warm & nice feel that some homes have. While making their home, most home owners usually consider just 3 or 4 of these elements and most often than not find it difficult to bring these together in unison.
To dwell further into these elements let’s give you a glimpse into what goes on in a designer’s brain as she does a recon of your home to create a visual in her mind that finally leads to the design blueprint and the final output.
So …broadcasting live, right from the studio in the designer’s mind…10…9…8…7…1..here goes.
What do I see…I see space, empty space, it needs furniture. What theme should the furniture be in, how do I place it to avoid clutter. There is a French window…cannot block that with furniture. The light from the window is causing a shadow…light…how did I miss that.
Light, what’s the direction of the house, is there enough natural light. The living room is well lit…can use dark colours for wall finishes & furnishing. But not in the master bedroom…it hardly has natural light, will use lighter shades in the bedroom. The living room will need a false ceiling for the spotlights.
Big empty walls…maybe a painting, ledge, recess or wallpaper on them…will need to highlight … more light points on the wall for accent lighting.
Kids room, 10 years old, hmmm. Bunk bed here? Maybe not, the kid will grow over it in another year. Hobbies? Ok, cricket theme then. Avoid clutter – Place for school bag, books…space for lots of books
Parents room, what age? 70 plus – needs to be elder friendly
I could go on, but I guess this gives you a broad picture. If you were observing, each of the five essential elements needed to design a home are mentioned in the commentary above. Now that you are bleeding with desire to know what the 5 elements are … here goes
The Five elements of good interior design
1.     Furniture
2.     Lighting
3.     Painting/ Wall Finishes/ Floor Finishes
4.     Furnishing
5.     Décor
But wait…. there is an elusive sixth element. An element that is most often overlooked in the hunt for a good carpenter or readymade furniture. And that ladies & gentlemen is – you. Yes …YOU – your lifestyle, age, habits, hobbies, aspirations and needs. A good designer would weave each of the 5 elements around YOU to create a space that you are most comfortable living in and proud of.
Each of the 5 elements is an independent field of study within Design. Take a simple example of furniture – it includes the shape, material, colour, theme, placement & size. In relation to YOU and your lifestyle one would add height, comfort, kid & elder friendliness and more.
The field of Lighting on the other hand includes how much total lighting is needed for the space to ensure that the home is comfortable (ambient lighting), places that will need more lighting or dimmable lights such as next to a study table or a lamp at the end of a sofa set (Task Lighting) and spaces that need to be emphasized with focus lights – such as wall paintings, décor items etc. (Accent lighting)
Similarly painting/ wall & floor textures – just entering some of the fancy tile showrooms in Bangalore can send your head spinning with the volume and variety of material and finishes on display. Natural lighting in the home as well as the overall theme planned for the home play a key role in choosing the right wall colours and textures.
Most folks plan the furnishing and the décor right at the end by when budgets have overshot the initial estimates and any expense seems heavy on the pocket. I missed mentioning this earlier but balancing out the budgets to cover the last mile details with zero budget creep is another trick that designers learn early and something that DIY home designers need to imbibe.
Back to the furnishing and décor. As the designer is creating the interior blueprint in her mind, the furniture is resizing itself, the walls creating the recesses and the spotlights aligning themselves to accommodate the décor items. What I want to convey is that décor is a forethought and not an afterthought. I remember this episode where we re-arranged just 2 pieces of furniture and added some décor to a living room and the output turned from ordinary to stunning.
So, in summary, the next time you are out doing up your new home remember to look beyond the furniture on how you want to play the 5 elements around your life and lifestyle for that complete home

Signing off

PS: An edited version of this article appeared in Deccan Herald on Mar 30, 2018. You can read it here https://goo.gl/6WQtsz