Did you know a pretty room has much more to do with how things in the room “play together” nicely and how they “feel” than their price tag? It’s true! Two of the best design concepts to learn about and practice in your home are scale and proportion. Let’s break them down into doable concepts. These will help you create a beautiful home!
Every home decorator should learn how scale and proportion work to create a feeling of cohesiveness and attractiveness in any room in of their home.
Scale and proportion are different. And just briefly let’s get to know a bit about each. Both of these important design elements have to do with how items work together in a space like a room.
WHAT IS SCALE
Here’s the easy definition…
SCALE refers to how an item (like a sofa) fits a space. This is super, super simplified but it is a good working definition for us!
WHAT IS PROPORTION
PROPORTION is how different objects (like a sofa and a chair) relate to one another. Again superly overly simple, but it works!
WHY YOU SHOULD USE SCALE AND PROPORTION INTERCHANGEABLE
Because we are not interior designers it’s not so important to know the nuances between scale and proportion in decorating but it is important to know how they work to create beauty and harmony!
So, we will use scale and proportion as the same thing. We know they are really not but we can think of them as one concept for our decorating purposes.
So here is our working definition of scale or proportion or both…
- Scale/proportion is the way an object relates to a room
- and things in a room relate to each other.
EASY TO SEE EXAMPLES
Have you ever seen a clown car? What happens when the doors of this tiny car are opened? Tons of clowns get out.
It’s funny because there is something wrong with so clowns getting out of a tiny car!
The car is the wrong sale or proportion to the clowns and vise versa.
Now think of a grand piano in a studio apartment! Same concept. But not so funny! They do not fit together unless the piano is the only thing in the apartment.
Then home decorators should always be thinking of how objects look together. Do the sizes and visual space they take up in a room make sense with everything else in the room?
THE MAGIC MATHEMATICAL FORMULA
Scale and proportion are really driven by math. There is something called the GOLDEN RATIO. It shows up in nature over and over again and it is exquisitly beautiful to our eyes and minds!
The ratio is 1:618. Now that probably does not mean much of anything to you but if you would see this ratio in an object you would definitely notice it.
Things like faces, seed heads of flowers, shells, spiral galaxies, hurricane images and more all have this 1:618 ratio.
And we find great beauty in things close to this magical ratio!
Are you thinking what does this ratio have to do with decorating?
It has a lot to do with design and decor! Designers often layout rooms according to this ratio!
But luckily, all we need to know is that this ratio exists! We have a pair of fabulous tools that can be, with a bit of practice, quite good at spotting something close to this ratio!
Most of us really have an uncanny sense of beauty, scale, and proportion. Even if you think you can’t decorate you almost have a built-in sense about scale and proportion.
Add a bit of common sense and you can use your innate sense of scale and proportion!!!!
PRACTICAL TIPS FOR ALMOST PERFECT SCALE AND PROPORTION
Here are some very savvy, useful tips for incorporating scale and proportion when decorating a room.
LET YOUR EYES BE YOUR GUIDE
If it looks “off” then it is. If it looks gorgeous then it is! If you can’t tell keep reading the tips.
TAKE A LESSON FROM GOLDILOCKS
Goldilocks was looking for a chair and bed that were not too big and not too small but just right! You should be looking for furnishings that are just right for a room and just right in relation to other things in the room. That should be your big goal!!!!!
Big furniture, for the most part, belongs in a big room. Small delicate furniture belongs in a smaller room. Simple, right?
And big heavy furniture should not be paired with slim, petite furniture in the same room. And again, vice versa!
It’s really common sense!
Number’s don’t lie!!!!
Don’t guess the size of that chair you are putting in your bedroom. Know its measure and then measure it out in the room.
This will save you so so many headaches!!!!!
There is an old carpenter adage… measure twice, cut once.
Here is my decorator’s adage…
Measure correctly, the numbers don’t lie!
If you measure a piece of furniture properly trust the numbers. If the numbers say it’s too big than believe it! And if the numbers make a piece of furniture seem puny then believe it!
Don’t buy anything because you love it. Everything MUST fit comfortably in a space. And it must be the right size to play nicely with all the furniture in the room.
One of the biggest mistakes a home decorator makes is buying things they love. It’s perfect in the store or online! But that does not mean it will be perfect in your home.
Know how it will fit into a room and know how it will look in relation to your other furnishings! I can not stress this enough!
NEGATIVE SPACE IS IMPORTANT
No one likes to be crowded into an elevator. It feels awkward, right? We love our personal space. Well, furnishings don’t like to be crowded either! They need their own personal space too!
A room needs space! With nothing in it. We call this negative or white space. And it such an important part of making a room feeling pretty and comfortable.
Many home decorators tend to put too much “stuff” in a room! You can get the scale and proportion right but if there are just too many things in a room it will feel unattractive and confusing.
Just try taking accents and furnishings out of a room until it feels spacious. Wow, what a difference!
Even empty space needs to be scaled to the room and other furnishings in it!
PATTERNS AND COLORS
Scale and proportion go far beyond furnishings! Let’s look at patterns and color!
Here’s an easy rule of thumb to remember…
Bigger patterns look best in big rooms. Smaller patterns look best in smaller rooms.
The larger the room the greater the number of colors can be used in it. The smaller the room the smaller the number of colors should be used in it.
WHERE SCIENCE AND ART MEET
Just like almost everything we talk about when it comes to decorating, it’s part science and part art!
Knowing the basics of great interior design like the magic of three (see below) and the golden ratio will help you achieve a very attractive overall look. And so will a bit of color theory and learning about concepts like balance. These are all based on science and math!
But your personality and personal preferences and your style will be the artistic touch that makes every room in your home feel and look unique.
There is no beauty without a synergistic mix of science and art!
Now you know why scale and proportion in decorating is so so important!
So, get acquainted with the elements of design and practice them in your home together with pursuing a curated a style all your own! This is the sweet spot of decor! And the way to create a home that is truly comfortable, beautiful and YOU!
MORE ELEMENTS OF DESIGN
You might also like to read about other elements of interior design. These complex concepts are broken down and doable for the home decorator.