Have you ever thought about proportions in your home decorating?
Or to put it another way, scale and balance?
No? These topics are often overlooked in home decorating, which can lead to the idea that 'some just have it, and some don't'.
"I don't really like this room, but I don't know why. The colors are ok, and I don't mind the furniture, but - something's not right!"
By understanding the role this topic plays in home decorating, you'll be able to improve how you decorate your home.
Relative size and relations
Proportions, or scale and balance have to do with the relative size of areas and objects, and how they relate to one another. As with elements such as color, most people have a good idea about proportions - it's just they've never had to think too much about it.
One of the best ways of appreciating proportions is to use the same exercise as suggested for finding your preferred color schemes.
If you look at some of the illustrations you selected, you'll probably find the reason you like some of them wasn't just the color scheme. Often it's a combination of the colors and how the furnishings in the room were arranged.
Good proportions depend on...
A sense of balance
Usually the most attractive rooms are ones where there is balance. A large sofa in one area is balanced by a large picture on the opposite wall. Or a tall piece of furniture is balanced by a standard lamp.
Focal point and anchor pieces
In the same way that each room should have one focal point, usually the fireplace, it should also have one or more 'anchor' pieces.
These are usually larger items which give a sense of solidity and permanence to a room.
Vary the height
Vary the height of your furniture. If all your items such as sofas, lampshades, bookcases etc are the same height, the room will appear very static and predictable. Break up the monotony with items of varying heights and volume.
Pictures are very useful here; you can hang them at a height which gives a 'lift' to the room. But don't make the common mistake of hanging them too high. Somewhere around eye level is usually correct.
A roving eye
Try to make the eye move as it takes in a room. A lamp is close to a picture, which in turn leads towards a sofa, to the left of which is a bookcase ... and so on.
Don't overcrowd the room, but have enough there to make it interesting.
Be aware that color comes into scale and balance.
For example, if you have a blue chair at one side of a room, try to balance it with another item containing blue elsewhere. It could be a rug, or a picture, or a painted piece of furniture.
The weight of color
Color also has 'weight' of its own. A light colored object will have less of an impact than a darker tone of the same color. If you're not sure about your color combinations, just take a piece of paper and color sections in the correct proportions.
For example, you might have one dark wall, three light ones and a dark sofa. So color one section for the dark wall, one light section three times the area of the dark one, and a suitably sized section for the sofa. Or cut out the sections and move them around. You may find you need to 'tone down' the sofa section by using pillows in the light color.
Whenever you plan a new room layout, you may find an online facility called Plan3D useful. It allows you to move furniture around your room and see how it will look from different viewpoints.
Too much to remember?
Here's a checklist for thinking about scale and balance. It's really just practice. Give it a go, and you'll learn how to make the most of your rooms.
- Do the larger items look balanced purely in terms of their size? Are there too many objects of similar size fighting for attention?
- What about high and low items? Is there enough variation in your room, or is everything the same height making the room look static?
- What are you able to rearrange to give a better sense of balance? You may want to move the grand piano, but is it practical?
- Do the smaller items fit naturally into the remaining room space?
- Do you have isolated areas of color? How can you balance the color elsewhere?
- Can you place items to create contrast and give a bit of life to the room? How will bringing in more colorful items affect things?
As with all aspects of home decorating, a little thought and practice with proportions will take you a long way.