For many of us, New Year is a time when we look to make some changes in our life, perhaps redress the balance a little after the excesses of Christmas entertaining. And what better way to kick off a new decade than by casting a fresh eye over your interiors?
It’s through the careful selection of furniture, artwork and soft furnishings along with textures, patterns and colours that we can create a sense of harmony – indeed research by the University of Liverpool and University of Rome has shown that symmetry has a profound effect on our sense of wellbeing. There’s also a financial benefit when designing a room with balance in mind, since choosing the right-sized furniture can help avoid unnecessary cost.
We work with a lot of interior designers and clients who are all looking for that all-important equilibrium, so if you’re thinking ‘new year, new look’, here are our top six tips for getting the balance just right.
First and foremost, start with the room itself. That may sound obvious, but balance is about working with what’s in front of you. While it’s perfectly possible to blend furniture from different design eras, too many sharp, Bauhaus angles in a Georgian house will jar the eye.
So, this is a good time to think about proportion and scale. Proportion is the ratio between the size of one part of a piece of furniture versus another – something we pride ourselves on in our DAVIDSON pieces. Scale refers to the way the size of one object relates to another or to the room itself. Depending on the size of the room, we recommend choosing one really strong statement piece – for example in a study you might opt for a large desk. Too many statements in the wrong-sized room will feel cluttered and overwhelm the senses.
Image from Balleroy.
The golden ratio (1:16) is a mathematical relationship commonly found in nature that creates a pleasing symmetry – the spirals of a seashell or the number of petals on a flower. The golden ratio can also be applied in anything from architecture to music and, while we’re not suggesting you should get a tape measure out, you can use it by dividing your space into approximately two-thirds for one section and one-third for the rest. This creates a sense of balance without feeling formal.
Related to the golden ratio, symmetry and mirroring is a great ways to create balance. Start by selecting your room’s focal point – perhaps a fireplace or a dining table – and arranging complementary pieces on either side. Using a focal point in this way will also help you create a sense of order and flow to the room. Symmetry is one of the simplest ways to bring a clean, calm sense of balance to a room, but be careful of overdoing it.
Too many identical opposites can start to feel artificial and discomforting, so this is where a little asymmetry can be useful. Asymmetry creates a more dynamic feel to a room, so less is probably more if you’re looking for a sense of calm. However, one of the simplest ways to introduce asymmetrical touches to a room is by considering height. While mirroring around a focal point creates a sense of ease, too many pieces at the same height will quickly feel boring. Consider having surfaces at different height or placing a vase or object d’art on a bookshelf to add perspective.
Radial balance is another classic technique in interior design. Here, everything radiates out from your focal point. The simplest example of this is a circular dining table, such as our Elystan Dining Table – chairs, lighting, rugs all flow from this central aspect. This is a lovely option if you’re looking for the kind of balance that suggests intimacy and companionship, which is why it’s a great option in dining and living rooms.
Your choice of materials, in terms of colour and texture, can also add balance. Brightly coloured cushions that match a colour in your wall art, for example, can having a positive impact on our sense of wellbeing. It also helps to create a sense of rhythm within a room, with echoes and repetitions creating a pleasing effect. Our only advice is to keep it simple – aim for two, or at most three, statement colours. Any more than three and your rainbow room might leave you feeling swamped.
Likewise, different textures elicit different emotions. For some, balance might mean smooth, minimalist lines with neutral colours. Others may value a sense of cosiness and choose materials that radiate warmth. The key is to remember that some of this is subjective so it’s best to go for pieces that speak to you personally.
If you’re considering a room refresh or would like some advice on choosing a statement piece of furniture for your room, contact DAVIDSON London or come and visit us in our showroom in London’s Chelsea Design Centre.