Help me learn the principles of interior design and lighting
November 3, 2013 2:30 PM   Subscribe

I've got loads of inspiration from things like Pinterest and Houzz and blogs, but what I really want to learn are the basic principles of good interior design and lighting. What should I read/watch?

We've just bought a new flat that needs a complete overhaul, and I'm ready to dive in. I'm really interested in the basic underlying principles of interior design and lighting - for example, with lighting, the difference between accent, task, and ambient lighting and how to mix them effectively. Also, I want to learn more about how to things like colour to make rooms appear bigger or smaller, or better proportioned. It would be great to see examples of these principles applied, rather than just the theory as well. Can you recommend any fundamentals books/magazines/blogs/videos/online courses, etc. that will help me learn these basics?

Thanks in advance!
posted by ukdanae to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I'm going to recommend going old school, and laying out for dead-tree version subscriptions to Architectural Digest, Southern Living, House Beautiful, and Interior Design, as I think these are carefully edited and produced print sources, who still hire terrific photographers and pay a lot of attention to reproducing their work, with taste and good color fidelity, in ways Web sites still can't. Read them cover to cover (good, bad and ridiculous as you may at first find them), visit what sites you can from which their stories are made (to develop your own impressions), scrapbook them, and seek criticism of their stories and viewpoints, as input to developing your own sense of aesthetics.

As for the technical details of home lighting design, color use, etc., these are technical topics that really require some science education in how light "works" (reflection, refraction, absorption, scattering, focus, splitting, etc.), as well as low level technical education into how traditional light creation and light management have developed (e.g. How glass transmits, disrupts, and influences light. How light sources such as flames, vacuum filaments, and electrical arcs differ. How the Kelvin temperature scale characterizes light quality. How task lighting operates, for various tasks that human vision must perform. Etc.,) You're really not going to get a comprehensive understanding of these topic, sufficient to producing your own designs, without serious academic study. But, as an interested lay person, you might find and cultivate connections with professionals who have those backgrounds, and upon whom you can call for projects of your own, and for recommendations you can make to others.

Some people cultivate tomatoes, and some people cultivate gardeners, if you know what I mean. But there are different tools, approaches, sensibilities and results you'll get, depending on what you choose to cultivate, and how diligently you pursue your cultivation.
posted by paulsc at 3:14 PM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm a huge fan of Raina Cox's blog If The Lampshade Fits. She writes extremely well and reviews loads of great decorating books there, among many other decor topics.

The one and only shelter mag I subscribe to is House Beautiful. It is such a pleasure to read. I love the interviews with designers; they ask them all such great, probing questions and get at what makes decor work.
posted by hush at 3:40 PM on November 3, 2013

Edith Wharton--The Decoration of Houses.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:02 PM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Interior Design Course by Tangaz.
posted by aspen1984 at 5:41 PM on November 3, 2013

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