When considering the design of interior spaces, people often prioritize elements such as style, color, shape, and overall aesthetics. However, even after careful consideration of these aspects, if something feels off when occupying the space, it may be worth examining the scale.
Scale, in the context of furnishings, refers to the size and proportions of various elements, including furniture, doors, moldings, windows, artwork, and decorative pieces. Additionally, scale is influenced by the visual prominence of elements, such as patterns and colors. Scale plays a crucial role in determining how the elements in a room interact to establish or disrupt balance, and achieving balance is essential for creating a harmonious interior design.
To establish a harmonious interior design in a room, it is crucial to maintain a feeling of equilibrium by carefully considering scale. For example, if a room consists solely of low furniture and high draperies without any intermediary elements, it will appear visually imbalanced. One possible solution could involve integrating artwork positioned at a medium height between the shorter furniture and taller draperies, thereby fostering a sense of equilibrium.
An example from my own practice involves a recent consulting project for a family in Denver, Colorado, who sought my help due to an unsettling effect in their living spaces. Upon studying their home, I discovered that the overall balance was disrupted. Certain rooms featured bold and vibrant elements, such as the dining room with its jewel-toned wallpaper adorned with a large-scale pattern, contrasting with petite furniture. Meanwhile, the adjacent living room had a completely different ambiance, characterized by neutral and earthy tones, along with well-proportioned furniture. To further complicate matters, the family room consisted solely of oversized furniture.
To address this issue, I took a comprehensive approach and aimed to distribute elements from each room to the others. For instance, in the living room, I introduced a new rug that incorporated colors from the dining room’s wallpaper. In the dining room, I added a wide mid-height cabinet to balance the scale of the wallpaper and petite chairs. Furthermore, I transformed the chairs by reupholstering them in a warm, earthy shade that complemented the prevailing colors found in the living room’s interior design. This choice of upholstery also accentuated a color present in the wallpaper. In order to achieve balance in the family room, I incorporated a delicate yet large overhanging floor lamp and reorganized the smaller family photographs into a gallery wall. This arrangement, where small works were combined to form a larger composition, helped to proportion the room effectively. By implementing these adjustments, I successfully created a smooth and harmonious transition from one room to another, ensuring a more cohesive and pleasing overall aesthetic.
Another way to understand scale, balance, and harmony is by considering how we unconsciously apply them in our daily lives when choosing what to wear. Wearing an outfit entirely composed of oversized clothing and accessories, including oversized jewelry, can lack harmony. Similarly, in interior design, incorporating too many large and visually dominant pieces may disrupt the overall balance.
Recognizing the importance of scale in interior design requires practice and expertise, but it is crucial for creating a cohesive and visually pleasing room. When scale is appropriately considered and balanced, the room will feel harmonious and well-proportioned, resulting in an aesthetically pleasing interior design.
The attached images showcase two rooms that exhibit excellent harmony. In the living room photo, there is a well-balanced arrangement of elements, such as a large painting and a rug, both proportioned and impactful. The sofa, with its shorter proportions, harmonizes well with the mid-sized and delicate lamp. Moving on to the second photo, the dining room, it becomes intriguing as the presence of an accessory, a vase with flowers, enhances the overall balance within the space. Without the flowers, the room still maintains an acceptable level of harmony.