Walk the Line

There are five elements of design, that is tools used by designers to implement good design. In this post I will be talking about one of my favourite tools, line. It is not something I had thought about previous to taking my course on Basics of Design but ever since the importance of it has captured my eye.

The six different types of line used in design are vertical, horizontal, diagonal, jagged, spiral, and curved. All these different types of lines guide the movement of our eyes in a space and help to create the type of atmosphere the designer is trying to achieve. For example, vertical lines are more formal and masculine whereas curved lines are more restful and feminine.

Here are some pictures of different rooms. I have noted some of the different lines represented in the pictures but if you are interested in the concept take a look and see what other ones you can find.

The chairs, side table and coffee table have examples of curved line.

The chairs, side table and coffee table have examples of curved line.

Spiral lines are most common in traditional design as shown here on the stair railing. The furniture in the living room also has good examples of curved lines.

Spiral lines are most common in traditional design as shown here on the stair railing. The furniture in the living room also has good examples of curved lines. Diagonal line is represented by the tufting on the ottoman.

Zig zags are a good example of jagged line. You also see jagged lines in the design of some more modern furniture pieces.

Zig zags are a good example of jagged line. You also see jagged lines in the design of some more modern furniture pieces.

The columns and window pains are examples of vertical line. Vertical lines increase the visual height of a room.

The columns and window pains are examples of vertical line. Vertical lines increase the visual height of a room. The base of the floor lamps are another example of spiral line.

How awesome are those shelves! And a great example of diagonal line. The drum stools and lamp shades are examples of circular line and the sofa an example of horizontal line.

How awesome are those shelves! And a great example of diagonal line. The drum stools and lamp shades are examples of circular line and the sofa an example of horizontal line.

The shelves are examples of horizontal line.

The shelves and stripes on the wall to the right are examples of horizontal line.

The use of different types of lines helps to balance the appearance of a room. For example, even if you are wanting to create a very masculine space it is good to have some gentle curves to rest your eyes on or the room may feel too rigid.

If there are too many vertical lines in a room that sense of rigidity is palpable for me and I feel ill at ease. Especially in new construction where homes are often quite boxy I need the softness of curves to balance out the strength and rigidity of the hard lines. Part of the reason why I like vintage objects is that they tend to have more interesting lines and add softness to a contemporary setting. For example I have a curvy old fashioned rocker and a vintage mirror in my sons room which helps to balance out the otherwise straight lines.

The curve of the flag pennant and the base of the lamp also adds softness.

Line can also increase the visual size of a space. Vertical lines lead the eyes upwards and visually increase height whereas horizontal and diagonal lines visually increase the width of a space. If you live in the Greater Vancouver Area you know the importance of making a small space seem as big as possible. Painting strips on your walls is an easy and inexpensive way to create the look of more space. You may have mostly seen this done in children’s rooms but it can be done beautifully in adult spaces as well:

lilac-living-room gray-living-room-with-horizontal-striped-wall

I could go on and on about line but I don’t want to prattle much more. I hope that this has been interesting and informative and given you something to consider as you look around your own space. I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to loving lines but next time you are flipping through a design magazine consider the impact the lines of the room have on the atmosphere and visual size of the space. It’s a truly fascinating aspect of design (or as I said, I might just be a design geek).

Leave a Comment

Filed under Decorating Basics

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *