Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It's All About Balance

THREAD:  Rules of Interior Design

To me it really is ALL about balance - in design and in life!  Think about it for a minute.  Can you think of anything where balance is not an important element?  It is essential in music, food, politics, finances (you know - the dreaded balanced budget), art and photography, sports, stories and books...I could go on, but you get the point.

You always hear self-improvement gurus talking about balance in your life.  Balance between work and home, spiritual and physical, financial and social.  You've probably experienced that guilty feeling when seeing these six spokes on the "wheel" of life and having to admit that you're woefully out of balance in at least one of these areas (in my case more)!

Balance is also critical to our physical well-being.  You know if you have an inner-ear imbalance it will  make you feel dizzy or "off".  That's why I think Balance is THE most important Principle of Interior Design.  Without it your room will just feel "off".

I consider Balance to be an inherent quality within all of the other Principles of design in that they just don't work without it.  For example:

We discussed that a successful room should have common elements to tie everything together (Unity) but in order for it to not be boring, you have to introduce something unexpected to liven it up (Variety).  And that's the trick - there has to be balance between Unity and Variety.  Too much of either one is unsettling.

Every room needs a focal point, but it also needs a counter-point to balance it out.  Otherwise the room will feel "heavy" on one side.  If elements are arranged in such a way that they are out of balance, this will disrupt the rythm of the room as well.  Your eye will get stuck on anything that's out of balance, throwing off the sequence or the flow of the room.

You've no doubt heard designers say that the scale or proportion of something isn't right.  That's because you're comparing two or more elements and they are not relating to each other well.  What it really means is that they are not balanced.  You see in design, balance is all about "visual weight" and every item and element in that room has this weight.  Therefore everything in the room needs to be arranged so that the weight is evenly distributed or balanced.

There's a reason why you shouldn't put a big, bulky, dark-colored sofa next to a petite, little, wooden, white chair.  They are not in scale with one another and would feel unbalanced.  If the two are next to each other, assuming there are no other elements to help balance them out, your mind processes them like they are on a teeter-totter.  The visual heaviness of that sofa makes it feel like that little chair is about to be catapulted into outer-space.  Not exactly a place you're going to want to sit.

So, I hope I've given you a glimpse into how imperative Balance is to the design of your space.  That is going to be the subject of my next THREAD.  I'm going to dive in deeper with more examples of how to achieve visual balance and we will explore the different kinds of balance:  Symmetrical, Assymetrical, and Radial.

But before we go there I want to wrap up our THREAD on the "Rules of Design", because I have a feeling that some of you might be thinking that I've totally contradicted myself.  On one hand I claim that there are no rules, and on the other I turn around and spout off all of these Principles saying they must be used to have a successfully designed room.  You're probably wondering why I don't consider these Principles to be "rules".  Especially if I'm saying that you must ALWAYS use them...and didn't I just have a whole post where I went off on designers making ridiculous assertions that you must "always" do such-and-such?

Well yes I did...but of course I can explain why I seem to be saying two different things, and why Principles are not actually rules.  So tune in for next week's final post (for now) in this THREAD "Rules of Interior Design".

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