In a previous post, I discussed some of the basic principles of design. In this new series, I plan to discuss the importance of each one of the principles individually and show you examples of them at work. In today’s post, I’m focusing on balance in decorating and how to achieve it.
To review, balance in decorating refers to the equilibrium of objects within a room. Balance can be created through shape, color, pattern and texture. Have you ever walked into a room and felt like something was off, but you couldn’t really put your finger on it? The furniture, color scheme, and accessories were all lovely, yet it still didn’t feel right? It may be the room was out of balance. A room that is well-balanced will feel comfortable and relaxing to the eye. And if the room is out of balance, it will feel uncomfortable and awkward.
BALANCE IN DECORATING
Balance in decorating is achieved through an equal distribution of visual weight. There are 3 types of balance: symmetrical, asymmetrical, and radial. Below are photos that illustrate the three types of balance and an explanation of how balance was achieved in each space.
Symmetrical balance occurs when you arrange items or objects the same way on both sides of a real or imaginary line. It’s as though you could draw a line down the center of the room or vignette and both sides are the same. One side mirrors the other. Here are three examples of rooms with symmetrical balance. In each room, try to imagine a line going the center. Then notice how each side is identical.
Asymmetrical balance creates equilibrium by using objects that have the same visual weight, but are different in size, shape, color and texture. The objects don’t have to be identical. An example would be placing a group of tall slender candle holders on one side of a shelf and putting a short, wide vase on the other side. If you keep the proportions correct, the grouping will be balanced. Here are three walls with displays that have asymmetrical balance.
In this kitchen, rather than having the same upper cabinets on the right side of the stove, the owners opted for open shelving. The shelves and the items placed on it are tall enough to fill the space. Because they are the correct proportion and carry the same visual weight as the cabinets, the wall looks well balanced.
In this foyer, color is used to create balance. The smaller framed print on the upper right draws the eye upward. The dark colors in the print also give it heavier visual weight, so it balances out the tall plant on the opposite side and the light fixture. The letters anchor the display and unite the color scheme.
To balance out the off-center window in this dining room, they filled the space next to it with a large piece of art.
Radial balance is achieved when you arrange objects around one central focal point. All the design elements radiate from that point and draw your eye to it.
In this living room, the round coffee table is the center point and the chairs are arranged around it.
The mirror is the central point for this wall display.
A round room with a round dining table – you can’t get a better example of radial balance.
In the principles of design, balance helps establish serenity in a room. When balance is complete out of whack, a room tends to feel chaotic and uncomfortable. To learn to recognize each type of balance, study pictures of furniture arrangements, vignettes, and mantel displays in decorating magazines or on professional interior design websites. This will help give you a better understanding of how it is achieved. Then you can apply this principle in your home.
The principles of design are guidelines, not rules. Remember, there are no rules in decorating. The principles are simply there to guide you and help you. They’re especially helpful if you are just learning how to decorate or unsure of what to do. Once you understand how and why these guidelines work, feel free to toss them aside and get as creative as you want.
If you have any questions for me, I’d love to hear from you. Please leave your thoughts in the comments. 🙂
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