Proportion is one of the ‘Elements & Principles’ used for creating good interior design and is often linked to scale, but they are actually different.
Scale is the size of an object compared with the space that it’s in, whereas proportion refers to the relationship and balance of different elements to one another – such as shape, colour, height and texture. You need to have both these elements right to create a perfectly balanced interior.
Today we are going to talk about how to use proportion correctly when designing rooms in your home.
A popular decorating rule which makes it easier to create a colour scheme is the 60-30-10 rule. The concept is very simple and works well in balancing colours in a room.
The 60 (percent) relates to the main colour for your space. This colour will anchor your room and provide a back drop for the rest of the colour scheme. If you were designing your living area then the main colour would be for walls and large accent pieces such as rugs and sofas.
The 30 (percent) will be the secondary colour which you would use for items such as curtains, occasional chairs and occasional furniture like an ottoman. This colour should be different enough to create interest in your space but should also support and complement your main colour nicely.
The last remaining 10 (percent) is the one that you can have the most fun with and is the easiest to change. This colour is the accent colour and it can completely transform a space. You can use pops of colour for items such as accessories, throws and scatter cushions. Look at artwork and fabric patterns for inspiration on what colour to go with.
Proportion Of Space
This refers to placement of objects within a space. For example, in a living area if you don’t want to have two identical sofa’s facing each other, you could place two lounge occasional chairs next to each other and opposite the sofa instead. So even though they are different to the sofa they still will balance out the space.
Think about balancing out a big tall piece of furniture by using two or three medium sized pieces.
Cluster a number of small framed photos or drawings opposite a large canvas. Be sure not to hang it too high on the wall though, as it will have no connection with the furniture below it. The centre of the art at eye level is generally a good indication of correct height.
Negative space is a good thing when it comes to art, you don’t want to overload every empty wall.
A coffee table that is too large or too small will cause imbalance and throw off a room and it should also be the correct height for the sofa.
Similarly, an undersized rug will make a small room seem smaller and a large room look disconnected. Rugs should provide a border for furniture to sit on and are a great way to create zones and group furniture together.
A common mistake made in homes is to have a small entertainment unit with a large TV – it actually should be the other way around. The TV should be between 2.5 and 5 times the screen width away from the sofa to be at the correct viewing distance.
In the bedroom, think about the size of your bedside tables and lamps. The lamps should sit proportionally with the bed and bedside tables. A queen-size bed usually sits best with bedsides of around 50-60cms in width. The lamp should not overshadow the table on which they are placed.
Have you heard the saying ‘use large items for a large room and smaller items for a small space’? Well this is a good guide to follow but isn’t always true. Sometimes big bold items can create a sense of space in a small room while too many small pieces can make a large room feel cluttered and disorganised.
The Smaller Details
Although they are the finer details, decorative items and how you place them are important. If you use too many items scattered around that are all the same size it can look messy and disconnected. Grouping your smaller items together is better and can create an impact as much as one large item on its own.
An easy way to assess whether your chosen furniture items will suit the size of your room/s is to use some newspaper or cardboard to lay on the floor and map out your design. This process will give you a sense of how much floor space will be taken up.
There are also apps available where you can take photos and create floor plans of your room.
Learning and understanding all of these ‘rules’ is the key to a great creative project, however rules can be broken and some of the most interesting and successful designs come from doing just that. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and customise your home for you.
At the end of the day, your space should reflect your lifestyle and tastes and by using the ‘Elements and Principles’ of Design as a guide you can create a cohesive, functional and well-designed home.