Decorating Ideas : Create a Furniture Layout with Balance and Symmetry
Partner post to Living Room Decorating Ideas (here)
Creating a furniture layout without Balance or Symmetry is like writing a blog post without drinking wine. While one requires a measuring tape and the other a straw, it’s all necessary to create a finished product that has flow and purpose.
What’s the difference between Balance and Symmetry?
Balance One side is the same ‘visual weight’ as the other, although the pieces are different from each other.
(Via The Inspired Room)
Symmetry One side is a mirror image of the other
Via Everything Leb
Why should Symmetry and Balance matter to you? Well, knowing your preference will help you A LOT when it comes to the following:
- Furniture Placement / Layout
- Accessorizing (mantel, bookcases and more…)
- Lighting and Artwork placement
Now if I were cover all of the above you would likely O.D. on the verbal diarrhea, so for now I’m going to focus on Furniture Layout / Placement.
Via Design With Christine (Balance or Symmetry – hmmmm)
There’s always a lot to consider when it comes to the layout of a room (doors, windows, TV units, fireplaces, etc…) but these basic ideas should give you the bones of it so you can play around with your space.
Balance means that while things might not be the same as each other, they have the same ‘visual weight’ and take up the same psychological space.
More About Balance
Darker colours carry more visual weight than lighter colours
(See how I did that? I’m not just good looks you know…)
In this photo, the dark coloured couch balances out the 2 light coloured chairs so that they both carry the same visual weight.
Picture this: If those 2 tall chairs were a dark colour and the couch a light colour – the chairs would look like they were going to eat the couch alive as they would be dominating the space. So while the chairs are tall, the light colour brings things back into balance.
Also: The airy visual weight of the glass table acts as a mediator between the 2 sides and also lets the fabric ottoman at the end of the room really dance! (or maybe I’ve had too much wine)
Patterns can carry more visual weight than lighter colours
You can see that technically, the couch on the left likely ‘weighs’ more than the 2 chairs. Because the chairs have a pattern on them (that repeats a colour that is in the couch) the room still feels balanced ‘visually’.
Picture this: If the chairs were the same colour as the couch a few things would happen: 1. The ottoman would POP and would be overly dominant and 2. There wouldn’t be a great dynamic between the left and right sides as the 2 chairs would feel far less consequential (damn that’s a big word for me…) Let’s change that to ‘important’ – there, that’s better, the 2 chairs wouldn’t feel as important as the couch.
Dense objects carry more visual weight than shiny/reflective objects
Why is this so genius? Because I say so, that’s why.
Okay, maybe there’s a few other reasons…
#1 The coffee table in the middle of the room, while it is decorated, the bones of it are glass. If this was a solid piece it would pull the energy down in the space as it’s ‘visual weight’ would be much more.
#2 The 2 chairs in front of the windows. I hardly even noticed them when I first looked at this photo – FREAKIN’ GENIUS I TELL YOU! While these chairs are large chairs, the see through spindles make the visual weight so light that they don’t interfere at all with the windows, fireplace or overall flow.
#3 The chocolate brown colour weighs more than the green colour. So while the sectional is clearly a larger, heavier pieces, the ‘visual weight’ of those 2 chocolate brown chairs make everything feel perfectly balanced!
Symmetry, the anal retentive half-blood sister to Balance.
A Balanced space can be a bit more casual and relaxed and is a fave of the ‘eclectic’ home as it allows a lot of room for creativity and spontaneity (definitely had to spell-check that one)
A space with Symmetry is a weeee bit stuck-up as it’s ALL about things being exactly the same.
More About Symmetry
Via House and Home
From the chairs and wall sconces to the accessories on the mantle, this scene has beautiful Symmetry.
Now you might look at the bust on the stand in the left corner and think that things might not be so perfectly symmetrical, but if we were to see the room as a whole we’d likely see a window to the right which would help to off-set any added weight on the left side. And really, Symmetry is anal-retentive but not to the point where there isn’t any room for spontaneity.
This is such a fabulous example of Symmetry at it’s best.
1. Chair for chair, couch for couch, if you divide the room in half (based on the fireplace) each side has the same objects (more or less, don’t be picky…)
2. The lamps and wall sconces are also matching pairs (usually my preference whether I’m doing a Balanced layout or a Symmetrical one)
3. The coffee table visually ties into the toss cushions on both couches and pulls your attention to the center of the room, further supporting the equally weighted sides
4. The bench/mirror on the far right wall helps to balance out the wall of windows/doors on the left side
The only complaint I’d have is that it doesn’t look like the easiest room to get in an out of! But really I still wouldn’t complain – that is a killer gorgeous room!
BAM – SYMMETRY -DONE!
Okay, maybe it’s not that easy, but this photo does show you a few great things:
#1 Two couches are WAY easier to decorate with than a couch and a loveseat as they automatically balance each other out.
#2 The black cabinets, ottomans and vases with twigs are also perfectly symmetrical.
#3 And thank GOD they threw a bit of whimsy in with the mantel décor. It’s touches like these that stop a Symmetrical room from looking overly planned and stuffy.
What to do
1. Visually, divide your room in half based on your Focal Point. The Focal Point is the main attention grabber in the room and is usually a fireplace, view or entertainment center.
2. Based on the 2 halves of your room, see if there’s a side, corner or spot that ‘visually’ weighs more than the other.
3. Use the ideas and tips above re: colour, pattern, density to balance your space out!
No budget? (I hear ya sister) Rather than replacing/purchasing new pieces, you can shift the balance in a room simply by adding pattern, colour, depth via items like toss cushions and throws!
Why Doesn’t This Work?
The reason this doesn’t work is because if you were to divide the room in half based on the TV stand it would come up lacking on the left side as most of the weight is on the right (loveseat). Alternatively, if you were to divide the room visually in half based on the window, that left side would still fall short of being balanced as the couch is significantly weightier than the TV stand. An accent chair to the left of the TV would make a big difference in this layout.
And this one?
The bones of this room are okay, but it has one fatal flaw….do you see what it is?
That’s right, darker colours visually weigh more than lighter colours. The chair on the right is not only darker than the one on the right, it’s also bigger – double-whammy, as once you throw the TV into the mix, the right side of the room is significantly stronger than the left.
Well that’s it my friend, you know I can talk for hours and hours so I’m stopping here and calling it a day – Happy Decorating!
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Kylie M Interiors Interior Decorating, Design, Blog, Online Consultations and E-Design based in Nanaimo BC. Serving Vancouver Island and the Whole Darned World!