Interior Design Tip: Creating Balance in a Room

Living Rooms

When a room lacks balance, it is noticeable from the moment you walk in. Although we talk about it in interior design quite often, we never start off a project saying “we are going to create a room with balance.” It is something that comes naturally with good design.

Balance is all about adjusting for the weight of items within a room. Heavy elements need to be reflected all around a space, or if on one side of a room, reflected on the other. There are three aspects of design that can affect balance:

Architectural Elements – Fireplaces, a large wall of windows, or a large entryway can make a room feel off-balance. For example, in the living room project pictured below, a dark brick fireplace had been built into one corner of the room. Both the color and the orientation of the fireplace were creating an imbalance in the space, and we could not change where it was located. We decided to make the fireplace essentially disappear by painting the bricks the same color as the wall trim. We then created a new focal point to the room with seating arranged in the middle of the room around a round ottoman and light fixture. Fighting the existing architectural element that was creating the imbalance would not have solved the problem, so we worked around it. (Click here to read more about this project.)

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Dark Colors/Heavy Patterns or Materials – Anything that draws your eye and keeps it there is creating an imbalance. Rich colors, textures or materials all take up visual space, and can dominate a room. For example, we created a full rendering of our design scheme for a client to show her why she needed more than one focal point in her living room. She loved the strong white and black of the rug under the pool table, as it created the pop she was looking for. However, it became the only thing that popped, dominating the large room. Once we drew the zebra ottoman and the bold graphic print into the design, she saw how these elements balanced the rug, allowing the whole space to shine.

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Large Furniture– In an empty room it is easy to see what is off balance. However, when a room is already furnished it can be harder. Using triangulation can help you identify where you can create balance. Spread three items around a space that relate back to one another. Have a black grand piano? Bring touches of black, such as a lamp or a pen-and-ink art piece, to two other places to create a triangle. Spreading these elements around the room in this pattern moves your eye around the space instead of just to the one dark, heavy thing. Voila! You have a room with balance and harmony.

If you find that your eye is getting stuck on only one element, your room is out of balance. We get many calls from homeowners saying “This room is just not working.” The first thing we look for is balance, as it is usually the main reason why the clients are not happy with their space.


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