Interior Design Key Terms

Interior design isn't just about decorating

Interior design work involves analyzing space to promote safety, health and productivity. It concerns itself with creating an environment within an interior space for better functioning or enhancement of a more ethereal quality such as serenity. It is a multifaceted job that can require working with architects and building contractors, as well as individual clients. Interior design is used by organizations and individuals. Nowadays there is also more emphasis on creating "green" environments.

Building shell

The building shell refers to the load-bearing elements of a building - its walls, framework, columns and core. These aspects of a building are integral to structural integrity. As elements that keep the building up, they need to be considered when learning about the interior design.


The facade is the exterior of a building that has architectural significance and needs to be taken into account by an interior designer.

Ambient lighting and task lighting

Ambient lighting is general illumination from any source, as opposed to task lighting, which is directed to a specific area, such as a desk or defined area within a room. This is a crucial aspect of interior design.


This term refers to the conditions of an interior space that affect the health of occupants. It includes air conditions, layout and temperature, as well as anything else that would also affect the safety of occupants.


Documentation, as related to interior design, refers to construction drawings, specifications, purchasing and bidding paperwork that are necessary in doing an interior design job.

Lines, shapes and light

There are key visual elements to interior design, such as lines, shapes and light. Each interacts with the other. When interior designers refer to these words they mean something specific.