Interior Design: Setting the Inside Atmosphere

I is for Interior Design...
I is for Interior Design…

Stopping by for the first time for the A-Z Challenge? Read a short intro to the A-Zs of Worldbuilding here!

This may seem creepy… but I like to poke through my character’s bedrooms.

Seriously. There’s so much you can learn about a person, and where they come from, by what they keep in their bedroom. However, since this is the A-Zs of Worldbuilding, not character building, we’re going to focus more on the latter. 

Though perhaps I should do the A-Zs of Character Building for 2015… I’ll file that idea way for further consideration.

Culture greatly influences homes, and how people decorate them. Here in America, we have quite a bit of a mash-up in styles, because of all the immigration, but there’s still some things that are common throughout every home – pictures or posters on the walls, curtains on the windows, there’s a video game console and a game/dvd collection in almost every home, photo albums, a sofa or recliner, etc. (Don’t think these are cultural? Think again.)

But these things vary by income level – our modern-day equivalent of social status. That list I just made? While those things are common in most American homes, there’s a few that are found in almost every American home, regardless of income: a video game console, a game/dvd collection, and the sofa and/or recliner. Because our culture is very entertainment-oriented.

So how do your people live?

Look at three different homes within each of your cultures.
  • Look at a peasant home.
  • Look at a middle-class home (think merchants).
  • Look at a wealthy home.
What type of climate is the home located in?

What kind of weather (rain, too much sun, sand, water, etc…) frequently needs to be kept out of the home?

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How is it done (curtains, window shutters, not having windows…)?

How is it made both efficient and beautiful?

What is the lifestyle of those who live in the home?

How much time do they have to maintain it?

How are the homes different, especially regarding status?

Is there something that is in every home, regardless of status?

  • Are there any shrines, sacred objects, or memorials?
  • Are there any superstitions people guard against?

What kinds of decorations are present in each type of home?

Don’t limit your decoration to just homes.

Some types of things will be found in every structure – decorative elements that keep out the elements, for example. Like curtains or window shutters, especially if glass doesn’t exist in your world.

Some religious elements might be present, too, if a culture fixates on shrines. Think about common superstitions that might exist, too.

Photo used in header image by xlibber, under a CC BY 2.0 license. The original image has been cropped and edited.

My intention is to turn the A-Zs of Worldbuilding into a workbook after the Challenge is finished. If you’d like to stay notified about that, you can subscribe to my newsletter here. Please make sure and select the A-Zs of Worldbuilding option!

14 thoughts on “Interior Design: Setting the Inside Atmosphere

    1. You can always look at pictures that inspire the feel you want for a setting in your story, and pull elements from that for description!

      And really, I’ve found that most of the time, opinion on ‘taste’ is relative. So don’t take comments like that too much to heart.

  1. Again, so glad I found your blog. The things you’re listing here seem like such obvious elements of world-building, but I highly doubt that many people reading these posts ever though about looking at such typical elements of a character’s bedroom. I know I haven’t.

    Love the idea of looking at pictures of other bedrooms for inspiration.

    I know we’re not talking about character, but wouldn’t it be fun to find a photo of a bedroom and then create a character based on the contents?

    1. It would be fun, and while I’ve not sat down and done it formally, I have found myself looking at room spreads when I flip through magazines and imagining the people who might live in them.

  2. These posts are awesome and maybe your first book should be on world building. Seriously. (Also? You are making me realize how much I just CAN’T world build and that poetry really is better for me! XD)

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