Let’s talk about Scale or Proportion. This is something that a lot of people struggle with when decorating their homes. Often times you go to a Home Decor store, buy something you love and when you bring it home it looks all wrong. It may be too big or too small for your space and you don’t understand why. It looked great in the store right?
The reason it looked good in the store is because it was surrounded by many other things, it was in a space with extremely high ceilings and most likely illuminated with florescent lighting. All these things can distract from the piece’s perceived appearance and size.
For the purpose of this post I will be talking about furniture selection (because art work deserves it’s own post).
It helps if you go shopping with some basic knowledge.
What is the size of the space that you are working with?
A general rule of thumb is If the room has high or vaulted ceilings and ample floor space then it is best to choose bulkier pieces of furniture so that they don’t get lost in the space. If you place big and bulky items into a small room or a room with very low ceilings it will look crowded, cluttered and make the space less inviting.
Does your room have a clear focal point? A large fireplace or windows are a good guide to help you with the proportions. These will help to “set the stage” so to speak.
Knowing the size of the pieces you are considering is helpful as you can then draw an outline in tape on the floor of your existing space to give you an idea of it’s footprint and exactly how much space it will utilize. Remember that each piece of furniture will need space around it so that you can move around comfortably. Don’t forget to leave space for a coffee table, side tables and any other items that will take up floor space. In a small space you may have to forego a side table due to lack of space. When shopping, if you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask for help, often times more reputable stores will have decorators or designers on hand to help with your selection.
What is the size of any existing furniture in the space?
You don’t necessarily have to buy matching pieces to go with the other furniture in the room but a general rule is that they should be similar in size. If you are buying a side chair for example, how does it compare to the other furniture in the room? Is it small and airy whereas your other pieces are big and bulky? This would look very out of place and throw off the balance in the room.
The image above shows a sofa and two swivel chairs, that are not a matching set (the chairs however are upholstered in the same fabric as the sofa) yet they are similar in size and bulk. All the pieces have open legs which give them the same sense of balance in the space, it also gives a open and airy feel. The look and scale is cohesive so that one piece doesn’t overpower the other, they work together in harmony.
While low-profile furniture works best in a smaller space be careful to ensure that all pieces are the same seating height so that everyone is at the same level. This is especially important in a dining room. There is a trend for a lot of magazines and images show a mixed array of chairs around a dining table and while this is a great look, you must ensure that all the chairs have the seat at the same height and that there is enough clearance for your legs under the table.
Insider tip: In most spaces people tend to push all their furniture up against the walls thinking that this will make the space appear larger. Leaving a gap of space between the wall and furniture actually tricks the eye into thinking that the space is bigger than it is! For example the image above: This is my office/TV room. This is a small room yet I opted to keep all the furniture off the walls so that it has the illusion of space. All the furniture in this room is low to the ground which also gives the appearance of more height.
Answering just these two basic questions you will be have the information you need to be on your way to picking out the right size of furniture for your home.
If you have any questions please feel free to ask. Until next time friends!