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Principle 5: How to Use Balance in Interior Design

Symmetrical design in interior design
Using Symmetrical Balance in Interior Design

When you’re arranging or decorating a room in your house, how do you know when you’ve achieved the right balance in interior design? A balanced room leads your eye through it smoothly. It guides your gaze toward the focal point and invites you into the room. If you look at a room and find your eye consistently stops somewhere unexpected, it could be an indicator you have a problem in that area. One way to tackle the issue is to address the balance in the room.

Interior design uses three types of balance: symmetrical, asymmetrical, and radial. Certain rooms or features lend themselves easily to one type or another, but they’re all useful methods to create the underlying structure of your room’s design. Here are some tips on each type of balance.

Symmetrical Balance

One reason we find symmetrical balance in interior design appealing is simply that our brains like symmetry. It forms a predictable pattern. Our brains love patterns.

It’s also worth noting that a design doesn’t have to be completely, perfectly symmetrical to be considered a symmetrical design. If there are a couple of details that don’t match up, the overall design can still read as symmetrical. In fact, having a small display that rejects the symmetry of the room creates energy and freshness in the space.

Try setting up a symmetrical design around a focal point, such as the bed in your master bedroom or a large window or fireplace in your living room.

Having trouble figuring out whether you have too many or too few items in your design? Better Homes & Gardens has a great article on Scandinavian secrets to balance that may help you.

Asymmetrical Balance

asymmetrical balance in interior design
Using asymmetrical balance in your home design

Using asymmetrical balance in interior design can be tricky but so rewarding when it’s done well. The key to a good asymmetrical design is understanding the weight that different types of objects have and how to combine them in ways that create a sense of equilibrium across a wall or in a room.

Consider the components that give an object its visual weight, such as their size and the intensity of their color or pattern. For example, a small, boldly patterned lampshade may have a similar visual weight to it that a larger, neutral lampshade has. Experiment with different combinations. Also, pay attention to how much time your eye spends on different places as you scan the room. Is your eye constantly gravitating toward one place? If it’s not your focal point, it’s an indicator something is out of balance in the space.

Radial Balance

Radial balance in interior design
An example of radial balance

One of the most common places to use radial balance in interior design in your home is in the dining room with a circular table. This example may sound a little bit familiar if you read my blog post on Rhythm and Repetition.

In a dining room using radial balance, the center of your table serves as the center of your design. Think of the rest of the room as making rings moving outward around that center. The table is one ring. The chairs make another.

All those elements work together to create a beautiful balance. If you have an open dining area, using radial balance can help define your dining space.

Using the Principles of Balance to Create a Gallery Wall

When you’re hanging wall art or creating a gallery wall or display in your home, use the principle of balance as a guide. For example, if you have an even number of pieces that are the same size, you may want to create a symmetrical display. This might mean hanging the pieces in a row above a long table or couch. You may also try hanging a couple pieces on either side of a chair, bookcase or fireplace.

If you have multiple pieces of varying size, you’ll probably be creating an asymmetrical collage or gallery display. Larger or more colorful pieces have more visual weight than smaller or more neutral ones. Consider both size and visual weight as you put together your gallery. An odd number of photographs or canvases are often easier to arrange in an asymmetrical design. Arrange your items so that one side of the design has the same visual weight as the other side.

Radial Wall Art

Using radial balance for wall art in your home can be a little trickier. It’s usually best to find repetitious art like a series of decorative plates for hanging on the wall. Then place them in a pattern that radiates outward from a single, central plate. Or if plates are not an option, think about a piece of artwork that has a radial design in it. It will create interest on the wall and can make a focal point for conversation. 

Learn More About Principles of Interior Design

Understanding the principle of balance in interior design and how it impacts other design rules and principles will help you make better choices as you arrange the furniture and decorate your home. If you have a project in mind, I can help you create a beautiful room with my e-design services. Contact me today to make an appointment so we can get started crafting the home of your dreams.