Creating Balance in Your Decor

Symmetrical balance

…is also known a bisymmetrical, formal or passive balance.  It creates a mirror image through the placement of items that are exactly (or proportionally) the same on both sides of a central point.  

Kristie Barnett, Designer
It can be as simple as placing two floral arrangements on either side of a painting above a mantel, or two identical nightstands holding matching table lamps on either side of a bed.  Symmetrical balance implies moderation, sophistication, organization, and formality. 
Klausner, Designer
Because formal balance is predictable, it infuses a feeling of stability and durability to interior design.  There’s a sense of history, as it was used from the Greeks and Romans through the Renaissance, Baroque and subsequent periods.  Although often easier to achieve, it is usually more challenging to create a visually interesting room using this type of balance.

Asymmetrical balance

…is also known as informal, active, or optical balance.  It can be achieved in two ways:
1. Dissimilar objects can be placed at varying distances from the center point.


2. Objects of similar visual weight and form may be balanced at equal distance from an imaginary central dividing line.
The difficulty occurs when one must find items that are harmonious yet diverse enough to be interesting, and then arrange them to achieve a sense of equilibrium.  This informal balance demands patience and sensitivity, characteristics which aren’t abundantly found in everyone.  Asymmetrical balance can require a great deal more thought on the part of the designer, yet it appears symmetrically balanced and effortless from first glance.  In a bedroom, one might use a nightstand and table lamp on one side of the bed, and a floor lamp and painting or mirror hanging on the wall on the other.  The term “active” is used because it requires a keen trial and error approach in order to get it just right.  The term “optical” results from one judging the artist composition of the room’s contents with the eye.  Informal balance does not have a set of rules, so it can be elusive or even mysterious.  It is taken from Asian cultures’ observations of nature and its sense of Yin and Yang.

Radial balance

…is a state of equilibrium that is based on the circle.  It is seen in chairs surrounding a round table, circular furniture arrangements or on the face of a clock.  Unless you have a round bed, it is difficult to arrange pieces radially in a bedroom.  However, in a general sense, you can place furniture around the bed radially and evenly throughout a square (or nearly square) room.  A spiral staircase can create a somewhat different type of radial balance within a room, as can the spokes of a wheel, or pie shaped wedges of a round tabletop on a pedestal base.
Charles Rogers Furniture

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In conclusion

What are your Balance preferences?  We would love to hear from you on this subject! What questions do you have related to this or other Elements of Design?  We would love to receive your photos of a room that feels (or never feels) just right.  Next week, our topic is Rhythm, another one of the elements of design.  Check out this website if you need help with your space.  We always make time for our readers.