Balance is a word and concept all home decor enthusiast should know. It’s one of the important elements of decor. I’m so excited about today’s post. It marks the first in an eight-week episode series about the element of decor. For the next several weeks we will be looking at very important concepts that if put into practice will make all of us better decorators. Let’s dig right into today’s subject… balance!
Today I’m sharing my very balanced living room. In fact, it is the most balanced room in my home.
WHAT IS BALANCE?
Balance is a hard definition to pin down. It’s more of a feeling than a concrete definition.
I like to visualize a scale. The goal is to keep the scale balanced.
Now divide your room down the middle and put all the things on one side of your room on one side of the scale. And do the same with the other side. Balance is the artistic task of making the scale balance in the middle! Not tipped too much to one one side or the other.
Everything you have in a room has visual weight. Some things “weigh” more to the eye than others. A room that seems relaxed and pleasing and looks beautiful is usually a balanced room.
Here’s another way to think about it. How would you feel if you walked into your living room and all everything in it was on one side of the room except a chair? Would you feel comfortable? Would it feel odd to be in that room? Of course!
Balance is how we place everything in a space and how those things relate to one another.
Here are some important decorating terms that relate to balance and are good to know and put into practice.
SCALE AND PROPORTION
Most of us probably think that scale and proportion are the same things. They are certainly related but they are not interchangeable.
Scale is all about choosing furnishings and accents in a room to fit the space. Home furniture and such should work with the size of the room it is put in. Think about how an overstuffed sofa would look in a very small room. Would it make you feel crowded and uncomfortable? Or how would a tiny table look in a massive dining room? Lost, for sure! That is scale!
The main pieces of furniture should set the tone for the scale of the room. There is wiggle room with the scale rule when it comes to accessories.
Now let’s turn our attention to proportion. When we think about proportion we need to think about how the objects in a room relate to one another. They can and should differ in size and shape and height and even scale to some degree. But they should play nicely together. And make sense in relation to one another.
It is like a dance. They all need to be in step and participate to make the room look attractive.
SYMMETRY and PAIRS
Symmetry is an easy and beautiful way to add balance to a room. It gives a room a feeling of order and comfort. Symmetry is extremely pleasing to our eyes. Symmetry is the idea of one side of something being the same as the other. Think of a mirror image.
We love symmetry because it is everywhere in nature
- our bodies
- nautilus shells
- birds with their wings spread
- milky way galaxy
Symmetry is all around us. We are quite symmetrical. As humans, we love the feel of symmetry. How does that transfer when we are talking about decorating? When we create decor is a matched set we have a type of symmetry. Did you know that your eye (really our brains) travel around a room looking for repeated things? Shapes, sizes, texture etc. And our eyes LOVE symmetry!
Think of all the decor that is often paired…
- table lamps
- side tables
- bedside tables
- candles or lanterns
These are just a few of the items we put into our homes in pairs. And when we match them on either side of a focal point (later post) we create magic! Instant symmetry and a feeling of beauty!
Here are pairs in my living room…
- pillows (two sets)
- white spindle chairs
- baskets under the coffee table
ASYMMETRY and TENSION
Now that we know about mirror image symmetry let’s let things get a tad different. When things look too perfect they can often look a little (yawn) boring! This is where asymmetry, another type of symmetry, comes into play.
Asymmetry is when things in a room are balanced but they are not mirror images. Think of a sofa with a side table and lamp on one side of it and a tall tripod floor lamp on the other.
Or think of a desk with a chunky task lamp on one side and a vase of flowers grouped with a small decorative box and a mercury glass votive on the other. It’s still balanced. Just not a mirror image. The visual weight is the same even if the objects aren’t.
Asymmetry is a more casual look. Always strive for balance within an asymmetrical look. When done right it is still as pleasing to the eye, if not more, as mirror image symmetry.
Things in the living room that are asymmetrical…
- end tables
- Curlacue chest and flower chair
- architectural art and shelf flanking spindle chairs
- plant and hanging lamp shade
Now a quick note about tension. I must admit I love a little tension. But only in decorating! It is the thing that makes a room seem extraordinarily interesting and full of life. It is the element of surprise and is the tale tell sign of your own personality.
When I decorate a room I like to go back and mess things us a bit. Even just a little. A piece of furniture painted a wild color. Or a chair with a fun pattern or something as simple as a pillow that looks a tad out of place.
Tension does just what it says… makes you a little tense! You know something may not be symmetrical, a little bit off, but it is not so wrong that it makes the room look uninviting. It brings just enough tension to a room and that it is a very good thing!
If you have a room that looks too perfect it may need a bit of tension to make it perfectly imperfect!
The zebra rug in my living room adds a good dose of tension! It’s a surprise and is soooooo me!
There you go! Now YOU know about balance and its design friends! I hope you will look at your room with a critical eye for balance. It will make a big difference in how a room looks.
Make sure to pin this and the following Elements Of Decor to have a small encyclopedia of sorts on how to decorate!
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