Let’s talk about visual weight! It’s a very important concept to know when you are decorating your home. Knowing about visual weight and how to use it will help you create beauty and balance in your home. Here’s what you should know…
I love sharing decorating tips and ideas that will help you be a better decorator! I use the design concept of visual weight in my home every time I decorate! And what a difference putting this designer concept to work makes!
So what is visual weight and how will it help you be a better home decorator?
WHAT EXACTLY IS VISUAL WEIGHT
Our eye/mind connection is a wonderful thing!
As we pick up information and our brain reads and interpret the information and then tries to make sense of it.
Our eye/mind connection is interpreting everything it sees at lightning speed! And this connection has everything to do with beauty in our homes!
Sometimes our eye/brain connection understands the information it sees as beautiful, cozy, restful, welcoming, attractive…
And sometimes when our eye/brain cannot make sense of what it sees or brains interpret it as disjointed, confusing, cluttered, uninteresting, and more!
One thing our eyes deciphers is visual weight. It’s all about understand visual weight!
When we talk about visual weight we are not talking about how much something actually weights. No pounds or ounces or grams etc.
It is all about how heavy or light something “feels” to our eyes and brains.
Here’s a good example…
These planters are on my front porch. Do they look heavy or light? Don’t analyze … just answer.
Yes, they look heavy. They are big and black and have some heft to them. They are VISUALLY HEAVY.
As far as actual weight goes, they are really very light. Both are made of a lightweight material!
Our eye/mind connection plays a huge role in all things decorating!
WHAT MAKES THINGS HEAVY, LIGHT OR IN BETWEEN
Here’s the easy answer…
Things that grab our attention in a room are things that usually have more visual weight! Think of them as the stars of a room!
Things that recede and/or play a supporting role have less weight.
Now let’s get a bit more specific…
One of the easiest ways to add weight or lighten decor up is by using color.
Here’s an good way to think about color and visual weight…
The darker, moodier, more saturated and warmer a color is the more it weighs.
The lighter, cleaner, less saturated and cooler a color is the less it weighs.
Here’s an example: Look at the squares below. They are precisely the same but one is light gray and the other one is black. Which one will have more visual weight?
Yes, the black is visually heavier! Much heavier.
Why is this important when you decorate?
Because you should think of the mood or how you want a room to feel. Do you want it to feel light and airy? Or moody and cozy? Do you want to create a sophisticated room or a casual, laid back one?
Your color choice will make a big difference in the feel of any room you decorate!
Look at the two bedrooms below. Which one has more visual weight?
So easy, right?
Now, can you tell what object in the room looks the heaviest? What is your eye drawn too?
The chairs, right? My eyes want to look around the room but seem to be immediately stopped by the heaviness of the chairs! And it’s hard to get beyond them!
This room is very neutral and looks light and airy but the chairs add a lot of visual weight to a room. Actually, too much visual weight all in one place!
THE GOOD AND BAD ABOUT USING COLOR
This is a great lesson! There is both good news and bad new when we talk about color and visual weight.
Let’s get the bad news out of the way so we can concentrate on the good.
If a room is too visually light and there are no other design elements in the room, our eyes will have a hard time moving around from one thing to another. And that room will often be perceived as boring.
But here’s the good news!
A neutral room can become more interesting by adding things like a “pop” of color or lots of texture to give it more visual weight. So something darker in a neutral room grounds or keeps the room from “floating”. A little bit of color goes a long way!
PATTERN AND DECORATING
Patterns go hand in hand with color. Here’s how to think of patterns when you think of visual weight.
The bigger and busier the pattern the more weight it has. The smaller and less busy a patter the less weight.
Look at these two patterns. The circles size and the colors are the same but the patterns are difference. Which one seems visually heavier?
Right, the one with the busy flower pattern.
So how do you take this information and use it to be a better decorator?
Look at these pillows. How would rank them by visual weight from heaviest to lightest?
Did you say the brown patterned lumbar pillow has the heaviest visual weight? Then the beige geometric pattern is next and the white pillow with the hemp trim has the lightest visual weight?
Every pattern you put in a room has a visual weight.
HOW MANY PATTERNS TO ADD TO A ROOM
Adding a few (two or three) patterns to a room is a good thing if you remember to mix the size and the busyness of the patterns in the right way. Our eyes see patterns as something interesting.
Too many patterns though are confusing because it is hard to make sense of them especially if the patterns are about the same size! Pattern overkill confuses our brains and creates rooms that look overdone and awkward.
Too little pattern or texture creates a room that has little interest because we cannot make sense of it!
Adding patterns to a room is a balance! It’s wonderful if done with a curated hand and terrible if not done right!
I tend to like a light, airy, neutral look but too much light and airy can seem boring or unsophisticated. Adding a visually heavy pattern to a room creates beauty and interest!
And I often do this by adding visual weight with pillows. No wonder I love pillows so much!
Texture is one of my favorite decor concepts to talk about! I love texture and the way it can add so much beauty and interest to a room.
Here’s an easy way to think about texture.
First, every room should have a combination of textures. Smooth, rough, shiny, dull, bumpy, smooth and more!
When we decorate and talk about texture we usually talk about textures that have more visual weight. Bumpy, bulky, fuzzy, rough, granular, grainy, raw, and more.
And how does texture work when we decorate?
Look at these pillows. Which one jumps out at you?
The one with the fluffy pom poms all over it. Granted it is in front of the other pillows but it is an attention grabber.
Even though it is white, it is visually heavier than the other pillows.
Let’s look at my home. Because it’s very neutral I call on lots of texture to give it some visual weight and create beauty.
Here’s my Curlacue chest with a stack of baskets on it and a white textured pot of greens.
Even though everything is very, very neutral there is tons of texture here.
The chest has been covered with grasscloth and then painted over. There is a bumpy dot design on the chest, the baskets are rough and bumpy and the white container holding the plant is dimpled.
Texture equals interest! It keeps our eye/brain connecting busy!
Just as some texture is amazingly good for a room. Too much is too much. Especially if a room has color and pattern in it!
The more neutral a room is the more texture you can add.
SIZE AND VISUAL WEIGHT
When it come size and visual weight here’s an easy way to think about it.
The bigger, bulkier and more space an object takes up the more visual weight it usually has.
Which ball looks heavier?
Yes, the one on the right! We see it looks bigger, it is bulkier and it takes up more space. We perceive this even though the ball on the left is made of lead and the ball on the right is a beach ball. Get it? Good!
Look at the picture below. Wow there is a lot going on in this room! There are layers of visually heavy objects in the neutral wall color room!
But look at the sofa? Heavy or light? Wow this is one visually heavy sofa!!!
Now that you know the concept let’s translate it into what that means when you are decorating.
Let’s say you want a room to look open and airy. What kind of sofa would you choose?
Probably a neutral colored sofa with a more slender profile.
I needed lots of seating in our small sunroom so I chose a big wide sofa with a low and slender profile in a light color with skinny legs. Can you imagine an overstuffed brown leather sectional with a lot of bulk in the sunroom? Overpowering right?
I’m on the hunt for another chair to replace the one in the right foreground. It looks a tad too heavy. But like everything decorating is a process!
SHAPE AND VISUAL WEIGHT
I think this is so interesting! Shapes like squares, rectangles and triangles have more visual space than curved shapes and irregular shapes!
Which shape has more visual weight?
The shapes are the same height and width but the circle has less weight because it looks like something has been taken away from it. So cool, right?
Now, how does that affect the way you decorate?
Let’s look at my foyer. I know there are a lot of other things in this image that speak to visual weight but just try and concentrate on the mirror.
Because of its irregular, round shape, it has less weight than a rectangle mirror of the same size here.
I purposely hung this mirror in the foyer so it would not seem “heavy”.
Honestly, there is no exact way to really measure visual weight. It’s all about perception!
I bet you already have a pretty good eye for visual weight! It’s hardwired in our brains.
The decorating magic happens when we take what we’ve learned about visual weight and apply it to every room in your home!
OTHER INTERIOR DESIGN CONCEPTS TO KNOW…
Have you ever wished you could create beautiful rooms like designers do? Have you wished you knew their secrets and trick for decorating?
No problem! I love love love taking complex interior design secrets and breaking them down into easy to understand, simple to do lessons for home decorators like me and you!!!!
Here are basic design concepts to learn and use in your home!