A well-designed and appropriately decorated room demonstrates the basic elements of interior design, horizontal and vertical lines. Good design in all styles, traditional, neo-classic, modern or contemporary is confirmation to the interior design world that those simple elements are represented.
The two foundations of design are vertical and horizontal lines. If used correctly, these design elements position the focus in a room for the best visual balance. They are the design features that provide the essential support for the room design and serve to accent a specific interior space. More important than focal points, a design without properly used horizontal and vertical elements is a failed design.
For example, crown moulding on the ceiling is a strong horizontal element. The horizontal line takes your eyes around the perimeter of the room. This is why all home stagers emphasize the mouldings in homes that they prepare for resale. Commonly used vertical elements in interiors are floor lamps, lamps on tables, hutches and armoires, indoor plants, pedestals, and hanging chandeliers. In hotels, indoor fountains and water features provide vertical height. These vertical design elements direct the eye upward and emphasize the overall height of the space.
Vertical lines accentuate features, and create a focal point. Wall sconces in a foyer may frame a decorative mirror placed above a buffet or sideboard. A pair of tall candlesticks placed on a mantle accent the vertical element. At best, vertical lines serve as design markers to make a strong statement. In furnishings, a tall backed chair like a wing chair becomes a vertical element. Verticals facilitate the spatial story.
The horizontal equivalents of vertical elements are long dining tables, sofa backs or straight railings. Your eye moves from side to side. Interior design schemes that feature horizontal pieces, like sectionals, beds or mantles, suggest the idea of staying a while. A horizontal design element informs the eye that you have reached the end. It is time to stop and stay in a comfortable spot. A horizontal feature beckons you to stay. Think about bedrooms or spa baths which feature flat, horizontal surfaces. In public spaces like airports there are rows of seats, or in reception rooms chairs circle the room with the message, please sit and stay awhile.
These two complementary design elements – verticals and horizontals – are the anchors for a successful design concept. Highlight the vertical and horizontal to achieve an eye-catching interior design and make any room a stunning success. As you discuss your design with an interior designer give thought to what horizontal and vertical elements you want to feature.