How to Decorate Using Balance and Symmetry
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.
Symmetry = One side is a mirror image of the other
In the above image, the artwork represents symmetry, the buffet display represents 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.
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
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.
In the above photo, the 2 chairs above more or less balance the sofa on the opposite side.
More About Balance
Darker colours carry more visual weight than lighter colours
- In the above photo, If there aren’t dark coloured cushions on those 2 accent chairs, the sofa will visually weight MUCH more than them.
Dense objects carry more visual weight than shiny/reflective objects
- Because solid, non-shiny items reflect light, they carry more visual weight compared to reflective items that bounce light back into the room. While the toss cushions and lamp bases in the above photo are the same colour, the cushions carry more visual weight than the lamps via their lack of sheen.
The beautiful mantel above is an example of balance as the left side has the same visual weight of the right side – even though the objects are all different from each other.
Symmetry, the anal retentive half-blood sister to balance.
In the above photo, the 2 sofas carry the SAME visual weight as they ARE the same.
In the above photos, the 2 leather chairs on either side of the fireplace are symmetrical, as are the matching toss cushions on them. Also, notice the artwork on either side of the fireplace – again, perfectly symmetrical!
More About Symmetry
The 2 chairs above WOULD represent symmetry if they a) were balanced evenly on the rug and b) both had the same toss cushion. Right now they are somewhat symmetrical but very off-balance.
The bedroom above shows a beautifully symmetrical display
- Side tables and lamps are the same (the book throws it a bit, but it’s a small detail)
- Toss cushions are perfectly symmetrical on both halves of the bed
- The throw adds a touch of whimsy to break up the more anal tendencies of this symmetrical display