How to Think Like an Interior Designer Part 14: Proportion

Simply put, proportion is the proper balance between design elements.  It is being able to walk into a room, take in all its parts and know that it is just the way it should be.  This tends to be a more personal concept to grasp because every homeowner is going to feel differently about when they feel that a space is truly finished and correct.  Proportion comes through repeating similar themes throughout the same space to provide unity while also using differing pieces for variety.  Whether your items are similar or different, there must be a relationship between them to create the harmony needed to make it all work.


A good way to get started is to try to take this process step by step.  What colors are you working with? Are there a few spots in the room where the same color can be repeated to pull those items together? Choose an odd number of items in each grouping since this can be more pleasing to the eye.  If there are a lot of colors going into the room’s accessories, use some neutrals to bind them so the colors don’t become overwhelming.


Think about the shapes that are present in the room.  Arched doorways and circular tables bring a circular shape that can be balanced out with some rectangular pieces to add visual weight.  If there are a lot of boxy pieces in the room, then incorporating some free-form shapes would soften it up a little bit.  Don’t just stick with plain items for your living space.  Any patterns you can add through wallpaper, pillow covers and area rugs will give the room a more interesting look.


How much light is in the room? If you are dealing with a dark space, balance that out with lighter colors for your furnishings and add the appropriate fixtures to bring attention to special areas. If there is a lot of available natural light, items of a darker color won’t dim the room too much so feel free to place a few in the space.


Remember to think about textures as well.  Items with thicker textures will make a room feel cozy and inviting, so be sure to blend them in with its cooler, sleeker features.  A lush blanket thrown over the side of a leather couch, one wall of textured wallpaper against 3 solid colored walls or a smooth wooden mantelpiece hanging from a textured stone-finished fireplace are all great ways to achieve proportion.