You know that feeling … you walk into a room and simply sense that something is amiss. You can’t put it into words but the space is, nonetheless, evokes discomfort.
Chances are the balance is off in the room.
Balance isn’t about creating mirror image pairs in a room; it is about weighting the room visually so that the eye flows seamlessly through the space.
The balance in a room is most obviously dependent on the size of furnishings but depth of color, patterning, and texture all play a roll.
If you are an interior design novice and want to tackle the balance of your space without delving into the details, the following guidelines can help get you on track.
First and foremost, balance heavy furniture pieces with large objects that relate in size. Another option is to use groupings of smaller items that add up to the weight of the heavy piece.
Use color and patterns to your advantage. Strong, vibrant colors can make a room sing but overuse can create visual chatter and scatter the weight throughout the room. Spread color and pattern thoughtfully throughout with pillows, window treatments, and art.
Just as with color, a variety of textures can add depth and interest and assist in managing balance. The use of marble, wood, and metal can provide grounding to a space while glass and sheer fabrics create an airy feel to the room.
Unless you live in a 600 square foot apartment, avoid placing all furniture against walls. Don’t be afraid to use the middle of the space to create depth and interest and to create additional areas of function, such as conversation or work spaces.
Look at the height of furniture pieces and try to create multi-levels within the space. If you have a shorter piece and need to add height, hang a larger piece of art on the wall above, elongating the space and allowing the eye to travel up. This will actually make the room feel taller!
Before you arrange your room, consider how traffic will flow. Most passages require two feet of space. Too much space between furnishings gives a disconnected look.
Arrange major pieces of furniture first, then smaller items such as end tables, chairs and floor lamps. Remember to leave enough room for doors and drawers to be opened.
Finally, arrange furniture before hanging pictures or mirrors.
Think about lighting and how it will function in the room and place tables which will hold lighting accordingly. An area that is dimly lit, will weigh more than one that is highly illuminated.
If placing a television in a room, consider the distance required between the screen and the viewer. Most sofas should be at least eight feet away from a standard television screen but with rapid technology changes, this is not a hard and fast rule.
One way to determine if your room is balanced is to listen to your instincts. If a room feels top heavy or out of proportion, it probably is. Another is to take a photograph and look at your room as a two dimensional space. It is often easier to determine where the balance issue is in a flat photograph than in an actual space.