Rhythm, Repetition, Contrast, And Movement In Design

Rhythm, repetition, and contrast are important interior design concepts every home decorator should know about and use. These concepts are so easy to learn and will help you be a more confident decorator!

rhythm in design- white buffet with a mirror above it

Rhythm in interior design is something every home decorator should know about and use. This is an easy principle to learn and use in as you decorate your home. And it is a tried and true interior design concept that will make a big difference in the way you decorate and the way your home will look! Rhythm just might be the secret to your decorating success!

When we talk about rhythm we should also talk about repetition, contrast, and movement. Think of rhythm as the umbrella that repetition, contrast, and movement live under. All these things work together to create beauty in the eye of the beholder.


It is my passion to break down design concepts into easy-to-understand and doable processes you can use in your home. The concept of rhythm is really easy! You are probably using this concept without even knowing it every time you decorate! The goal is to do it purposefully!

What People Are Saying

Thank you so much for this it has opened my eyes and brain. it all makes so much sense the way you broke it down.

Rose, a StoneGable Reader

Rhythm is one of the easier concepts once you know what it is. Let’s see how to use rhythm in our homes!


fireplace with a big picture above it

In this series, we often talk about how our eyes connect with our brains and how through them we perceive beauty.

To understand rhythm in interior design and how important it is to create a beautiful home we need to keep our eye/brain connection in mind.

Think about rhythm as our eyes moving throughout a room. Did you know that our brain is always trying to make sense of what it sees and one big way it does that is by something we call rhythm?

Our brains also like to be organized. So we perceive that a room is attractive when our eyes can move from one thing to another in a room and see some patterns and repetition.

Rhythm is all about the organized movement of our eyes around a room. Our brain picks out repeated elements like the same color or the same shape or the same item and finds it organized and pleasing!

So here’s a good working definition of rhythm in interior design…

What Is Rhythm?

Rhythm is the idea of creating an organized movement around the room by repeating elements in a space.

It’s all about that eye/brain connection. Our eyes actually bounce around the room at lightning speed going from one thing to another. And when they can find objects, shapes, and colors, that are alike this rhythm helps them to get around the room seamlessly!

There are several ways we can create rhythm in a room but one of the most obvious and easiest ways is through repetition!

The goal of rhythm is to create a way for our eyes to move around a room seamlessly by repeating and contrasting things in the room.

Why Is Repetition So Important

rhythm in design- chair with a chest behind it.

Yes, repetition is the easiest way to create the organized movement our eyes/mind loves! If we repeat things in a room our eyes, without us often realizing it, will work around the room searching for these repeated things making sense of the room. And we perceive it as positive!

Here are some examples of the progressive rhythm our eyes search out…

  • accent color
  • shapes in a room
  • flooring that is the same
  • repeated upholstery patterns
  • the same chairs or end tables or other furnishes and accent pairs

Repeating Color In A Room

rhythm in design- a fern on top of a trio of books on a coffee table

One of the easiest ways to create beauty in a room is with rhythm of color. Repeating color in a room or throughout your home creates a cohesive look. And what is prettier than a cohesive look!

Creating a color palette for a room and your whole home is a smart thing to do because the repetition of color creates a way for our eyes to travel around our spaces easily! This is known as flowing rhythm.

How To Choose A Color Palette For Your Home is an easy to understand post that will help you create the perfect color palette for your home.

An Example Of Repeating Color In Our Living Room

Again strive to distribute color around the room and not all in one place. In the image above the chair in the background works with the brown book on the coffee table! And on the other side of the room, the trim on the pillows is the same color too!

A Pop Of Color

a chest with pictures above it

Did you ever wonder why so many decorators talk about a pop of color? It’s simple. This design concept work!!!!!

Using a pop of color in a room wakes it up and makes it interesting. But even more importantly, using a color that catches our eyes is a great way to create repetition. However, a pop of color should not stand alone!

Remember the Nursery song The Farmer In The Dell? In this song, the farmer takes a bride and the bride takes a child and the child takes a dog and the dog a cat, and the cat a mouse, and a mouse the cheese. And the cheese stands alone!

Do not let a pop of color be the cheese!

A pop of color is only effective if it appears in other places in a room. It can be used in different variations of tints (lighter versions) and shades (darker colors) but it should show up in three spread-out places in a room.

This is such an easy design principle to incorporate in every room in your home! Even in a neutral room. Use tints and shades of a different neutral to add interest and beauty!

An Example Of A Pop Of Color

living room

Eventhough our living room is very neutral it has enough repeated colors to make it interesting. A pop of color often means using the green in plants as a pretty pop! You can see in the images above that I have two ferns and an urn of greens in three places in the living room. They work to keep a viewers eyes moving around the room.

It’s that simple!

Other Thing To Repeat

Color is not the only thing to repeat. Repeat size, shape, metals, textures, lines, patterns, wood tones,

Contrast And Rhythm In Decorating

Let’s now look at another component of rhythm called contrast.

While repeated things in a room help our eyes move about the room, too much of a good thing is bad!

Our eyes love repeated elements but they can be fickle and get tired of the same-old-same-old. So to wake them up and add something new to add a bit of contrast to our room. This causes something called tension and tension is uber exciting!

Try not to place too many of the same like things together in one place.

Repetition is amazingly good but not when the same things are all together in one place.

Spread repeated elements around the room. And throw in a bit of contrast to make your room interesting!

Contrast can be achieved through color, shape, line, pattern, material, and asymmetry.

Think of contrast as mix-and-match.

Examples Of Contrast

A round table with a round lamp on it and a round box and round knobs on the drawer on the table can look a bit ho-hum! Add a bit of contrast by replacing the box with a square one. A little contrast is a good thing!

Repeat elements and then mix in something a bit different. And repeat that difference at least once or better yet three times around the room! Remember there is magic in groups of three.

But don’t go overboard. Yes, our eyes love contrast but too much contrast confuses our eyes and our brain will perceive it as cacophony!

An Example Of Contrast In Our Living Room

coffee table with books, plants and a candle on it

Our neutral room uses black to not only give visual weight and depth to our living room but also as a repeated color.

The black accents are dispursed throughtout the room making it easy for our eyes to find them and keep moving around the room to look for more. Black is in the picture frames above the Curlacue Chest and in the mirror above the white buffet. It’s also in the rug and on the painted rush bench turned coffee table as well as the small drink table. And if you look closely it is in the picture above the mantel and the finish on the knobs on the chest.

The trick and secret to repeating color are to disburse it around the room.


rhythm in design- living room

There is actually more to the interior design theory of rhythm. But for our home decor purposes knowing about and using repetition, movement and contrast will go a long way to helping us be better decorators.

Rhythm plays an important part in creating beauty. And the good news is most people already use the theory of rhythm when decorating and really don’t realize it. Our eyes are hardwired to see repetition, create movement and to love contrast in small doses.

But if we are aware of this element of interior design we can be a bit more purposeful in what we choose to put together in a room. And this will create a greater sense of harmony and beauty in our homes.

FAQs about cheesecloth

We use repetition to give a sense of order, unity, cohesiveness and beauty to a room. It is one element that ties a room together and helps us make sense of it.

Repetition in design is when we take one element like, a color or a shape and repeat it through a room. Our eyes travel around a room and like to search out same elements.

Repetition focuses on the same objects repeated over and over again while pattern looks for sequences of different objects repeated over and over again.

More Priciples Of Design To Know

Interior designers know tricks of the trade that are tried and true and work to create unity and cohesiveness and beauty in a room. We can learn these easy concepts too and use them in our homes!

Decorating your home in your own style does not have to be hard! Learn and use interior design concepts like rhythm and repetition to help you be a confident home decorator!

pin for post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. tracey clark says:

    i just love your baskets/trays. I look and look for the exact ones and dont seem to have any luck.
    This was a great article. Will read over and over……

    1. Hi Tracey! I love writing about interior design. As I have said I am passionate about sharing with my readers, who love to decorate, these designer concepts. The will make a huge difference in the way we decorate!

      1. Claude Sanderson says:

        Hi Yvonne.
        About the curtains…..
        I usually appreciate your designs and ideas but not this time. I do not wish to offend. I am not a fan of those drapes . I had to listen to my gut…. ok… it feels like the curtains have been a “bad boy” and been relegated to being stuck in a corner. They do not breathe. It feels like they are choking. The curtains are fine. The rods are so short and stocky which also adds to the heaviness. So change the rods and have them go to other end of the window. Do this for both windows. It would have been nice to see what the windows look like when you lower the shades…..

  2. Kathy Menold says:

    I ever knew it was called rhythm in decorating world but I know I like to echo shapes and colors in my rooms. When ever a decor doesn’t seem just right to my eye this always seems to do the trick.
    Have a great 4th even though quieter this year and as always thanks for all you do to help us make our homes a good place to spend so much time in.

    1. Thanks, Kathy! We are spending time with immediate family! Yes, it will be a lot quieter, but we will be celebrating! My family has served our country and I am a Air Force brat! We are so proud to live in this blessed country!

  3. I love your posts…I learn so much. One thing I don’t believe I have seen is some advice on personal photos. Do you have ideas on creative ways to display? I’d love to make a photo wall, but looking for a way to do this to make it look good.

    1. Hi Barb, what a wonderful idea! I have my personal photos in my study and bedroom. Instead of a photo wall I have them en mass on a couple of shelves. Much easier to switch out or add more photos to!

  4. Kris Coon says:

    I love your blog!! Thank you for sharing all your knowledge. Where did you get the lamp in this post?

    1. Hi Kris, many of the lamps came from Pottery Barn and the one on the chest is from Wayfair.

  5. I learned alot and pinned. Thanks for all the great advice and info! Your home is always pleasing to the eye!

  6. Thank you for your post and your website! I always love reading your blog! Could you tell me where you purchased your light colored chairs with nailhead trim pictured in the image above with the woven pendant? Many thanks!

      1. Thank you so much! They are beautiful!

  7. Julie Peper says:

    The repeated elements you taught me today are very helpful! I never really thought about that in decorating a room.

    Where did you purchase the metal cage lamp on the buffet?


    1. Hi Julie, I’m so happy this post helped. The lamp came from the Pottery Barn a few years ago.

  8. Cathy Penn says:

    Wow, what great information. I will never look at my home the same. Thank you so much. Now I need to apply these principles to my home.

  9. Diane Richmond says:

    I love this design series – I’m reviewing them all now. Well done!

    1. Diane Richmond says:

      By which I mean revisiting…

  10. This is so helpful, thank you for sharing all of your design wisdom. May I ask where you purchased the mirrors over the chest, they are so unique!

    Thank you,

    1. Hi Vicki, that mirror is so old! I found it at HomeGoods years ago. Check Wayfair for something similar.

  11. Oh ….I am so happy that you are here to help us all decorate our homes… I look for your post every day! My vignettes now have rhythm!

  12. Rose Rumping says:

    Thank you so much for this it has opened my eyes and brain. it all makes so much sense the way you broke it down.

  13. Debra VogesSchneider says:

    Love your posts! Rhythm and symmetry makes so much sense. I often use your techniques in my own decorating. Can you tell me the plant you show on your dining room table?

  14. Hi There
    I’ve been enjoying your site every day for awhile now. Thanks soooooo much. I’m going to be doing some major work in the spring and you’re the star of the show.

  15. Who knew! I’ve been decorating this way for years but didn’t know they were design principles! Thank you for sharing your knowledge!
    I’ve read others comments and well… I love the drapes and the way you’ve hung them! In fact, we’re doing a major renovation to our master suite this coming fall and our bed will be between 2 windows… I plan on using my drapery in exactly the same way! I think it frames the focal point beautifully.. in your case.. the fireplace… in my case the bed! Thanks for the wonderful inspiration!

  16. Great article, Yvonne! I learned a lot through your examples, and it has me thinking about changes I want to make to our living room. Thanks for sharing! Hugs!

  17. Sooooo informative and helpful! Your exquisite taste inspires me to try new things!
    Love your color choices… can you share where you purchased your rug??? I love it!

  18. Wow. I hav been following u fr quite a while and I hav tried to emulate your style. It’s the epitome of everything I hope fr in my home. Your use of color, texture, & content tops all others that come across my feed. Please know u r appreciated!

    1. Oh, Debra! Thank you for the most lovely compliment. I post about my home and decorating techniques to help others, and your comment make me so happy that StoneGable is helping you!

  19. Mary Brewer says:

    I love your sheer drapes. Would you please tell me where you got them?

    Thank you!