Balance is one of those tricky elements in interior design that is easy to identify but hard to emulate, making it one of the most important aspects overall.
Without a balanced design, it is hard to enjoy a room. Proportions feel clunky, some spaces appear too full and others too empty, and overall things feel uncanny and uncomfortable. While things like colour, style or aesthetic often fall in the valley of the subjective, there is a method to creating a balanced design.
In this article, we’ll discuss the concept of balance and how to master it in your designs. Are you ready to transform your practice?
What is balance in interior design?
Balance refers to harmonious distribution of visual weight in one room. It is what makes rooms feel well-distributed and curated, like there is a rhythm to our vision when looking at a space.
Balance depends on the size, colour and shape of the furniture and architectural elements in one room. Bigger, bulkier, darker furniture weighs on our sight, whereas negative space, windows, mirrors and light, thin furniture can give lightness to a room.
For a space to work in terms of balance, it needs weight and lightness distributed in a room. But how to do this? Well, let us introduce three ways you can achieve balance in one space.
The classic first step: building up from a focal point
Every room has one main purpose and something our eyes veer towards no matter what. In a living room, this is often the TV, and in a room it is likely the bed. If it is not immediately clear what the focal point is, it may be a window or big feature like a staircase. Alternatively, the room may need a focal point, which should be introduced in the form of function (e.g. a long table in the dining room) or style, if you have the space (e.g. a sculpture in the middle of an entrance hall).
Once you have chosen or detected the focal point in the room, you’re ready to get into the building out of the rest of the design. Of course, this is the most important element in your space, so make sure the focal point aligns closely with your vision for the room.
The easiest way to build something balanced to the eye is to build equal in visual weight from the middle of the focal point. It is speculated that symmetry is impactful on our mental health (for more on that topic, we have an article on it!), so this can definitely be a good starting point for your design. Something to bear in mind is that symmetry may be calm, but it can also be boring to some. Nevertheless, it is a great place to start!
This one’s for the bold (and creative). Again, taking into account the focal point, we build on the sides of it, without trying to replicate everything we see on either side. The trick to make this work is adding equal amounts of visual weight on either side of the focal point, despite not using equal amounts of furniture. For instance, if the room has a sofa as a focal point, you may want to avoid two coffee tables on the side and go for a big painting on one end and a bookshelf on the other. Get creative and don’t be scared to move things around until it feels right.
Radial balance is a popular option in bigger homes and in those with curved walls. As all other methods propose, the design starts off with a focal point, but then creates balance from the centre of the focal point outwards, like the rings outside of Saturn. This option can also be adapted to square or rectangular rooms where the focal point is in the middle of the room, like a fountain in the middle of a patio or a dining set in the centre of a dining room.
Surprise, there’s one more step!
Once all the furniture has been thought of (at least in its placement), do consider contrast and how to create it with colour. If the room feels too homogenous, it may lead to the room feeling unbalanced or overwhelming for the inhabitants.
This is the first installment of our interior design principles series. To stay-up-to-date, subscribe to it now!