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5 Key Principles of Interior Details

The artist and architect, Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe once said, “God is in the details”. As interior designers, we create comprehensive environments that tell a story about each community. Carefully thought-out details that become an integral part of a space might not be immediately obvious to the eye – yet, are nonetheless crucial to a successful design.  Here you will find 5 key principals of interior details.

Make a Statement with Lighting


Lighting is a key feature in all successful interiors. When done right, it becomes a design statement, a way-finder and sets the mood.

At Instrata Pentagon City, the decorative lighting is used to focus the attention to the center of the space, over the seating. The placement helps to direct the eye to the concierge on the left and the leasing office on the right.
Selected for their quality and unusual design, these Italian pendants with handcrafted shades are used in lieu of architectural lighting to create a brand identity. Multiple shapes arranged in what appears to be a random placement speak to the quality of the property while introducing a design story that captures the energy of a chic European boutique hotel. Like the artwork in the room, this low-energy, LED fixtures are both practical and represent a significant design detail.

Create a Sense of Place


Over time, residents will develop a relationship with their apartment homes. Each time they experience a space or building detail that they connect with; the association is reinforced. The idea is to create a design that residents feel a personal attachment to. Special details that that resonate with an individual personalizes the space and help them love where they live.

Paying homage to the property location is one way to create this connectivity. At 1800 Oak Street, the design concept embraces wood materials reminiscent of the “Oak theme”. Details include oak bark at the face of the concierge desk and custom cast bronze, oak branch door hardware featured at the entry door and throughout the interior. With an eye to subtlety, design details that nod to the location creates a sense of place.

Make Function Beautiful


Functional details like convenient charging opportunities for smart devices and laptops speaks to today’s trend to blur work and play. Searching for a charging port need not happen when design details that consider easy access are paramount to the design concept. Mindfully electrifying tables, upholstery, and coworking spaces can be beautiful as well as handy. In this coworking library, table-top ports are built into each workspace creating a well-designed power source that masks cords and unsightly electrical devices.

Create the Unexpected



Walking through the doors of this building on DC’s hip H Street, Coda on H, residents, and guests are greeted with whimsical A-OK door hardware. The custom handles, that create the initial intrigue, were cast from the hands of our project manager’s daughter and put a smile on everyone’s face. They set the tone for the building design that is all about street art and playful experiences in this gritty-chic apartment building.

Details that surprise and delight are not just memorable, they create a building’s personality. People will engage on a deeper level if they feel the place reflects who they are or aspire to be.

Tell a Story


Storytelling through interior design details creates a powerful, memorable impression, especially when aligned with the property brand. Seth Godin, author, blogger, and former dot com business executive said that “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories, you tell”. A great brand story is about creating emotion. What better way to enforce the building brand than to continue the story into the interior?

Branding the building with its name, “Cheval” (French for horse), this high-end Bethesda condominium had a story to tell. The connection between horses and humans is a powerful one. Winston Churchill said, “There’s something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man”. The long wall in the lobby provided the blank canvas for a subtle nod to the theme and began the interior story. Inspired by Irene Suchocki’s ethereal horse photography, a glass mosaic artist translated a fine-art photograph of galloping stallions into this dream-like vision.

Boutique, elegant and understated.

Design is all about the details that ground a property in its geographic location and tell a story that helps residents love their home. Whether it is a funky, edgy neighborhood or a sophisticated urban center, how the elements of design are curated, make each building unique.