It’s the Principle of the Matter: Rhythm

The last Interior Design Principle Rhythm is the principle that creates movement in space through defined intervals between elements. This principle helps to keep your eye moving.

We have talked about eye movement playing a role in emphasis.  When someone enters your room, being able to focus their attention on one point means that their eye then moves around the space with intention – your intention! Rhythm helps you put in place all the other elements in your room to support your intention!


Repetition is a clear way to create a Rhythm in your space.  Rhythm is created by predictability.  The eyes sees a repeated element and creates a connection – the eye and brain want to keep on toward that next step. Usually rhythm created from repetition has a sense of order to it. The room below repeats a long linear element seen in the pendants over the bar, the vertical wooden room divider, as well as the wall treatment that rest behind the sculpture.



Gradation is another key way to bring Rhythm into your space.  In lieu of repeating the same things after a break or interval, gradation keeps the eye moving with a progression of steps.  There are enough steps to retain a connection between each element.The pillows on the sofa here are a great example of gradation. The shades in color are stepped and it helps your eye move around.

gradation - 2


Alternation is the last way to create a sense of Rhythm.  Opposites attract – and the eye is attracted to contrasting pairs – keeping it rolling through the space!  Here is a fun example of contrasting pairs – the actual books verses the wallpaper sets (bold color verses muted color).  They all share the same shape of a “book” – a linear line – but your eye keeps exploring each and every one!


Don’t forget to incorporate the interior design principle rhythm into your space by using these methods! Enjoy!

Contributing Author: Abby Tappendorf

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