How to Think Like an Interior Designer Part 11: Balance

In interior design, balance is crucial for making a space look comfortable.  This principle uses the visual weight of a room’s objects to provide it with stability.  Visual weight does not always represent the actual weight of an item, but how it is perceived in a design.  Items that are larger in size, darker in color, higher in contrast and more complex in pattern and shape appear to be “heavier” than items that are lighter, less dense in design, lower in contrast and lighter in color.  The art of balancing these items is making sure that the heavier objects and lighter pieces work well in the same space.  One heavier item may be balanced out with three lighter objects.  Or two equally heavy objects can balance one another out. Understanding the different types of balance will help you choose which arrangement will work best in your home. 


There are three types of balance: symmetrical, asymmetrical and radial.  Symmetrical balance is achieved through the placement of the same objects on either side of a room using a central line as a guide.  An example of this is a bed with matching side tables.  On those tables are matching lamps.  The bed acts as the center “line” while the matching table and lamps are symmetrical on each side.  While these arrangements can be pleasing to the eye, the similarities can sometimes do the space a disservice by making it look too predictable.  Be sure to sprinkle in different items to prevent the room from looking too plain.  Asymmetrical balance uses a variety of objects with similar or different visual weights and places them opposite one another to provide equilibrium through interesting combinations. This arrangement can be a little more difficult to achieve if you are unsure of an item’s visual weight, so be careful with your choices.  An example of asymmetrical balance is placing a large sofa with side table and lamp across from two single chairs with a floor lamp in between them.  Finally, there is radial symmetry, which is an arrangement of pieces around a central point in an almost circular way.  Focus can be pulled inward or pushed outward, but the center remains the anchor of the design.  An example of this would be an upholstered chairs arranged in a circle around a coffee table or a half-circle sofa facing a chaise lounge and accompanying area rug.


Now that you know all about balance, choose the type of symmetry that will bring the most visual interest to your space.