Understanding Scale and Proportion in a Room

November 28th, 2017 Paul Dekker

Scale and proportion are often terms that are used interchangeably by do-it-yourself home decorators, but they are subtly different in nature.

Understanding the design elements of scale and proportion are necessary to bringing harmony to a room. Here’s how you should work with them.

Understanding Scale and Proportion in a Room

What is Scale?

Scale refers to the size of items you have in a room. Furniture shopping becomes easier when you keep this concept in mind. For example, you wouldn’t want to buy a dining room table for a room with dimensions unknown. You could end up buying a table that looks way too big for a smaller room, and vice versa; doing this will throw the balance of your space off.

What is Proportion?

Proportion deals more with the relationship between them. When determining proportion, it is beneficial for you to follow a like-things-with-like-things approach. Pair items similar in shape and even weight, near each other, or find shapes that accent each other in a way that is aesthetically pleasing to the eye. For example, don’t place a large heavy wooden bowl on a petite brass and glass coffee table, the proportions will make two nice pieces both look bad. Don’t put a large overstuffed recliner in a sleek contemporary room, unless your husband really needs it!

Finding Your Ideal Ratio  Understanding Scale and Proportion in a Room

Achieving perfect balance, or symmetry of a room, takes practice. You may spend a great deal of time shifting and rearranging things, but that’s the fun part of interior designing! As a few rules of thumb, keep in mind that smaller décor looks best in a smaller-scaled room, except when it comes to adding dramatic emphasis, like low contemporary furniture in a loft room with high ceilings. To add excitement and balance to a space, you can place one or two more pronounced items like a floor lamp or a sculptural piece in an area of the room that is not so busy. When deciding on patterns, be careful; while there are some classic looks with multi-layered and complimenting patterns, it is easy to furnish your room with more than it can handle. Choose prints that convey a message or story, not ones that exist to be gaudy or overbearing.

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