Design Rules

Design Rules: Balance & Harmony

17th July 2015
Hoppen balance harmony

One of the easiest ways for me to explain the concept of balance & harmony in interior design, is to tell you how to achieve it. Balance and harmony is an abstract concept, unlike the slightly ‘scientific’ concept of selecting a colour palette.

I’ve listed 10 points below to help you to achieve balance and harmony in your interiors.

  • Avoid unnecessary clutter in your living spaces – clearing clutter will make a space seem bigger as there’s less for your eye to focus on. It will also make it easier to find things in the space and there will be less ‘competition’ for your attention when showing off your prized possessions e.g. art, sculpture etc.
  • Focal points provide ways of guiding the eye away from less attractive features and towards important elements that give the room interest and character.  Make sure they are positioned on a square axis rather than a diagonal one.
  • When creating compositions with any furnishing elements, use a rectangle where the length of the short to the long side is 1: 1.618 – this is known as the golden ratio (it’s worth looking up this link to learn more). Designers have been using this ratio for millennia.
  • Symmetrical arrangements are associated with elegance and harmony, so always aim to follow the rules of symmetry, particularly when planning the position of the main elements in a room.  Using a lot of symmetry in a room creates a very formal atmosphere. But you can loosen up the styling by using groups of different objects on either side of the space that overall have the same visual weight, this will make the space feel more relaxed, but still have a hint of being formal.
  • Use the visual weight of each element in your room (it’s size, shape, colour and pattern) to create an overall balance within the space.
  • Try to achieve themed connections across a space to create unity and harmony through the use of materials, colour, pattern and texture.
  • Alter the perceived proportions of a room by adjusting the level of skirting boards, dados and picture rails.  A dado should be a third of the height of the room and the skirting about a quarter of the space from floor to dado.
  • Use repeating elements along the surfaces or around a room to keep the energy lines moving in a space.
  • Plan what you are intending to display before you decide on your final scheme so that you can create the right decorative context.
  • If displays don’t receive enough natural light, introduce accent lighting to highlight them.

I hope that the above guidelines will help you to understand how to achieve balance and harmony in your interiors.  Please feel free to ask questions below in the comments.

Image credit: Kelly Hoppen Interiors

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  • John French

    As we live in a dualistic plane down here in earth, balance is key to achieve harmony or success in any situation or space. Thank you for these excellent guidelines to achieve balance in interior design.