How to Think Like an Interior Designer: Lines

In interior design, lines are separated into four categories: vertical, horizontal, angular and curved.  Each type of line can give a room its ambience by simple placement alone.  Therefore, it is a critical element when deciding how to move forward with your decoration plans.  Too much or too little of a single type of line can steer you in the wrong direction, so let’s get to know what feelings each one evokes when expressed through design.


Vertical lines help bring height to a room and give it a more formal look.  Floor to ceiling drapery is a perfect example of using vertical lines to enhance a space by making the ceiling appear taller.  Wallpaper with a vertical stripe design is another method used as well.  Vertical lines can give an imposing look to a design through architecture such as columns outside or inside of a home.  These lines draw the eye upward and add elegance to the space, but too many vertical decor choices can make it appear aggressive. Mixing in other types of lines will help mute a look that can become oppressive if not reined in.


Horizontal lines help soften the vertical elements in the room.  This can be done through the horizontal shape of a coffee table, couch, or countertop.  Since they are parallel to the ground, horizontal lines evoke more of an informal, calm feeling.  Incorporating these lines in a room will bring down the intensity of your vertical choices.  They draw the eye all the way around the room, providing flow not just in that space, but throughout the home. 


Angular lines can be broken down into two categories: diagonal and zigzag.  These lines are great for adding visual interest to a room and give the space some movement.  Chevron and herringbone designs are a good example of regular angular lines and zigzag designs with less obvious symmetry are considered irregular angular lines.  Choosing an irregular design will lend an unexpected look to the room simply through its lack of obvious symmetry.


Curved lines soften the appearance of other lines and provide an aesthetically pleasing look to any room.  Studies have found that curvilinear decor enhances the viewer’s mood and give them a sense of safety and comfort.  Good examples of curvilinear design are a half-moon table placed in an entryway or a spiral staircase.  Circular accent rugs or light fixtures are also easy ways to add curves to your living space.  Overly curvy interior choices can give the impression of being too ornamental, so striking a good balance between straight and curvy lines is key.