Design to Fit Your Life: Scale and Proportion

Two Elements of Interior Design

July 31, 2020

The most important objective in interior design is to enhance our everyday experiences within the environment we live, work and play.  Taking into consideration basic design elements is important, but paying close attention to scale and proportion will give you a home that is warm, balanced and inviting.

What is Scale?

According to the Interior Design References Manual by David Kent Ballast, Scale is the “relative size of something as related to another element of known size.” Scale can be the size of a room, piece of art, furniture, an accessory, etc. Most of the time, the scale of an object is compared to the people inhabiting the space, which explains why standard heights have been established for things such as tables, chairs, and counters.  There are exceptions, however.  If a person is exceptionally tall, the depth and length of a sofa or chair would need to be modified.

We like this example from Darby Road Home, who reminds us that though they actually mean two different things, scale and proportion often used interchangeably.

*PRO TIP: Yes, furniture can be scaled to fit your life! Standard pieces from inside furniture stores can check the boxes for your room, but does it fit YOU? Customizing your furniture with a professional designer gets it right from the start, and saves you time and money down the line when you want to replace the one-size-fits-all items in your home. Custom doesn’t mean it is outside of your budget. Interior designers like us, work closely with local representatives from many furniture lines to comb through options of all shapes, sizes and budgets!

What is Proportion?

Proportion is an understanding of the scale of specific design element on a single object, such as size, shape, texture and color.  Proportion is focused on the relationship between parts of a whole.  Think about large rooms and the open concept floor plans which are prevalent in new homes today.  By creating harmony between the room size and the proportion of items placed in the room, you can establish an intimate feeling and space where you desire to spend time.

We helped one of our clients accomplish this goal by using over-sized art (scale), window panels mounted well above the windows to compliment the vaulted ceiling (proportion), darker and larger pendants in the kitchen (scale), and a bold zebra print on an existing chair (proportion).  The result was a beautiful balanced design and a home in which the homeowners finally felt content.

Getting it right from the start!

Before you start to design your space, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when working with scale and proportion:

  1. All furniture should be to scale with the size of the room.
  2. Design around your most important piece of furniture. (See our post on focal points!)
  3. Ceiling height and size of the room matters.
  4. Repeat patterns and shapes.
  5. Leave room for negative space.  In other words, do not place art or furniture on every wall.

If you are still feeling challenged or unsure, give us a call. We would be happy to help you balance the scale and proportion in your space so that you may live your best life in a home you love!

>>> GO BACK TO OUR BLOG on The 7 Elements of Interior Design to see how these topics fit together!

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