Awkward, out of balance rooms. Everybody has them. Even the most well designed custom homes. That one room where you just can’t figure out where to put the furniture to make the space work. I have one. In my house it’s my office and sometimes I’m still not sure if I’ve found the absolute best solution, but I have managed to find some balance and function.
So, what do you do with those awkward rooms? A few design “rules” can help you figure out your best approach for furnishing those spaces. The first step is using good space planning guidelines. If you like to entertain, like I do, you will want to make sure that there is enough room for everyone to move around in the space. The most common rooms for entertaining are the living room, the dining room, and the kitchen.
The other problem with awkward rooms is finding a way to create visual balance. The easiest way to create a balanced look is by using symmetry. Symmetry is by far the preference of most people. However, if the awkward space your designing just isn’t conducive to symmetry, then you’re probably wondering how to achieve balance without symmetry.
It’s not as hard as you think and I have three great tips for helping you deal with your awkward rooms.
Tip #1: Symmetry
Symmetry is a type of balance, but in an awkwardly shaped room symmetry can help offset some of that awkward feeling. Symmetry gives a feeling of stability and predictability.
The bedroom vignette below is a great example of symmetry. I used two identical tables and lamps to create a stabilizing effect in the very wide room. It also gave the room a great focal point.
Tip #2: Scale
When symmetrical balance is not possible, you will need to employ asymmetrical balance to solve the design problem. You can create asymmetrical balance by using the scale of the objects in the room to your advantage. What exactly does that mean? It means pairing one large object with several smaller objects to create balance.
A great example of this is when you are styling a console table with one lamp. It may not always be possible or practical to have 2 lamps on a smaller console table. When this is the case, opt for a smaller lamp and then pair it with a grouping of decorative items that take up the same relative amount of space or “visual weight”, which I’ll get to in a second.
This shoppable console vignette is a great example of using the scale of the decor to create asymmetrical balance.
Tip #3: Weight
It’s all about weight. Every single object in your home has visual weight. There are several elements that give something visual weight. The obvious elements are shape and size. A tall object has more visual weight than a short object. Squares and rectangles seem heavier to the eye than curved and rounded objects. However, texture and color can also effect the visual weight of an object. Think of a brown faux fur pillow versus a cream colored silk pillow.
So, the final lesson in finding balance in awkward rooms is to use items with a similar visual weight. An example would be to balance a light colored, smooth velvet sectional sofa with 2 side chairs in a coarser, darker fabric, like in the image below. Although the chairs don’t take up as much physical space as the sofa, the dark blue color makes them look heavier. This contemporary mediterranean room is a project where I used this this technique to create balance.
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