InDesign Basics, Elements and Principles of Design

Line, Form and Space: Elements of Design

How to use these Elements in your home design

Line, form and Space are Elements of Design. This post is the second in a series discussing the Elements and Principles of Design to help you understand and use them in your home design. We discussed the Principle of Balance in the first post of the series. Be sure to follow through and read it to understand the three different types of balance.

To recap: the elements of design are line, form, colour, value, texture, pattern, light and space, while the principles are balance, scale, emphasis and unity.

Elements of Design

Elements of design, such as line, form and space, are all found in nature. They can be observed by sight and touch. If we analyse them, we can understand better how to use them in our home designs. We will discuss line, form and shape today, with a little tour of my Living Room.


Line leads the eye through the room, and it creates motion. It can enhance certain aspects in the design or lead the eye towards the focal point in the room. The different types are horizontal, vertical, diagonal and curved.

Horizontal Line

A horizontal line is stable and is sometimes seen as monotonous if used too much in a room. In nature, we see horizontal lines on the horizon. Use horizontal line in a series of artworks above a couch or chairs as indicated below or to ground a grouping of tall furniture or items.

Horizontal line and square / cube |
Horizontal Line created by the paintings and square forms in the ottomans.

Vertical Line

Vertical lines symbolise strength, think of tall trees and high cliffs. If used too much, it can be imposing in a room, but can also be used to balance out the monotony of low furniture in a room. This lovely lamp in our living room creates beautiful vertical lines and is a major focal point in the room. Vertical lines are present in pendants, curtains, and tall cabinets, to name a few.

Vertical line and round form |
Vertical line and round or spherical shape used together in the hanging lamp

Diagonal Line

Diagonal lines are restless or dynamic. We see them in mountain slopes in nature. An excellent place to use diagonal lines is for a gallery wall above a staircase. This lamp also creates a diagonal line from lampshade to lampshade – creating motion.

Diagonal line, cylinder form |
Diagonal line created by the lamp shades. The tables are cylindrical in form.

Curved Line

A curved line is soft and flowing. We can see it on the beach, or low hills. Curved lines in our homes are often in furniture, but can also be seen in the arches of doorways. We recently procured a second-hand piano. It is about 70 years old and still needs a lot of TLC, but I love the curved lines of the legs.

Curved line |
Curved lines of the piano and stool legs and wall arch.


Form is a series of lines defining an object or space. They consist of straight, diagonal or curved lines or a combination of those. The room will be more harmonious if the forms have similar lines, but you will also learn with practising how to group objects harmoniously that have different lines.

We can observe different forms in nature as well. Fruits like oranges and grapes have a spherical shape, like the glass lampshades. Tree trunks are cylindrical, like the two nested tables under the lamp. The lamp and tables have curved and straight lines, which creates a pleasant effect because of the similarity in form.

Cone shapes are seen in trees in nature, and typically in lampshades in the home, while pyramid or cubic shapes are found in gemstones in nature and furniture and ornaments in home decor.

Translate the form and lines into basic forms – this will help you understand what line or form the object or space consists of and help you to better understand how they are used together.

Using line and form |

If you look at the image above, you will see vertical lines in the curtains, horizontal lines in the coffee table and sofa. The basic forms are rectangular, but the curved shapes on the cushion patterns ties in with the curved lines of the tray and decor items on the coffee table.


Space is the enclosed area or the room in which you decorate. It has three dimensions, not just two. So it is critical that you don’t just design on plan. You need to think about how the furniture will protrude into the space and what effect the height of, for example, a cabinet might have in the room. I saw a case in a Facebook group just today of how someone placed a tall cabinet in her living room. It divides the room and wall in two. It also makes it challenging to choose wall art as she is struggling to get something to balance out the too big cabinet.

Defining Spaces |

Design your spaces with three dimensions in mind. Always think of how something will affect the space and how you can define the area by using line and form.

Using Line, Form and Space Together

Using line, form and space together in design |

If you look at the photo above, you will be able to see many types of lines, forms, and what I’ve done to define the space. It is worth going through the exercise of when you see a pleasing room design to try and identify all the lines and forms. That way, you can learn and get a better understanding of how to use them in your own home design.

I hope you’ve gained some insight into these Elements of Design and that it will help you to design a home you love.

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Elements of Design; Line, Form and Space
Junette |

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