The 3 F’s of Interior Design – Flow, Function and Focal Points

Monday, October 20, 2014 Permalink 1

Designing a room from scratch is incredibly rewarding but it can also be a little daunting if you’re not sure where to start. You’re always going to consider the style of the room, the colors you want and your personal style in your design, but less obvious are the 3 F’s. How does it flow? What’s the purpose of the room (function), what and where are the focal points?

photo of an empty white room

A fabulous blank canvas

After you’ve got that sorted in your head, better yet on paper with a plan, you can get to the color, style and picking out your furniture. You’ve got before you a blank canvas and a great opportunity to create your dream space. That’s so dreamy! Here’s a guide to each F.


1. Flow

Start with a good understanding of traffic patterns. How do you get in, out and through the room? Flow should be easy and intuitive. If you consider the principals of Feng Shui, you’ll want to emphasize good Chi and check how energy flows through your rooms. To help with this, picture energy (Chi) as flowing water. Would water flow naturally through the room and your home, or would it just come in the front door and out the back? You want to keep the flow moving naturally throughout each room and from one room to the next.

Room Scene Showing Flow

Contemporary Living Room by Vancouver Contractors Natural Balance Home Builders – Courtesy of Houzz

In addition to furniture placement, colour and style cues help spaces flow together.

Traditional Home in Austin, Photo Courtesy of Houzz

Traditional Home in Austin – Courtesy of Houzz

2. Function

What will the room be used for? Functions like sleeping, eating and watching tv may seem obvious but consider your experience in the room and how you want it to feel when you’re using it. For example, if the room is for relaxing and socializing you want to create a cozy seating area, arranged to promote conversation.

For bigger spaces, arrange zones or groupings which create more intimate, usable spaces.

Vittadini Homes in Sarasota. Photo Courtesy of Houzz

Vittadini Homes, Sarasota – Courtesy of Houzz

If the room is primarily used for watching TV, add a larger coffee table or ottoman so that you can play games there too, and a chair or two in front of the TV facing in, which can be easily moved in or set back.

Elsa Sawyers living room photo - Courtesy of Decorpad

Elsa Sawyers – Courtesy of Decorpad


 3. Focal Points

Fixed elements (like a fireplace, feature walls, or large windows) are focal points and you want to arrange furniture in a way that takes advantage of these elements. Place sofas (or chairs) on either side of the fireplace making a cozy spot to gather or relax. If you have larger window, you may want to position the main seating to look out and enjoy the view.

Ashely Campbell Interior Design photo of great attention to focal points- Courtesy of HomeBunch

Ashely Campbell Interior Design – Courtesy of HomeBunch

Using a single bold color in an otherwise neutral or monochromatic room also creates focal points. The image below has architectural focal points with the windows, and there’s the large format art which is awesome, but what really draws your eye is the color of the dining chairs. And the fuchsia bowl on the counter balances the color and helps the dining area flow to the kitchen.  Choosing colors however is a blog post on it’s own… coming soon, but to explain this color choice, the fuscia is a ‘split-complimentary’ color to the yellow and it provides the energy to make this room electric. Gorgeous!

Elle Decor Espana photo of color focal point - Courtesy of Domaine

Elle Decor Espana – Courtesy of Domaine

Hope that helps and happy designing!

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