a vintage beni ourain rug and a viggo boesen style banana sofa in a brooklyn townhome style living room

Design balance is often an afterthought in room decorating, when in fact it should be considered at the first stage of design. Good design creates an emotional response. It creates feelings of well-being and comfort. Design balance plays a major role in those feelings of well-being. When a room is properly balanced, we experience feelings of stability. When the decor is lopsided, something doesn’t feel right even if we can’t put our finger on it. Furniture placement, and the use of scale, proportion, color, and texture are essential to achieving a harmonious design.



Focal Point

Establish the focus of the room. A focal point can be a dramatic, sophisticated or even gaudy piece of art. It can be a gorgeous marble fireplace, or an unusual chandelier. It can even be a unique sculptural coffee table or a rare vintage sofa. The focal point can be anything that natural draws the eye when entering the room. Wherever the eye natural lands first is the focal point of the room.


Scale & Proportion

Select furniture that is the appropriate scale for your room. Furnishings that are too big or too small can stop the design flow before you ever begin. Your sofa, rugs, coffee tables, lamps need to be able fit comfortably within the dimensions of your space.




Give your room a center point. In a bedroom, it will likely be the bed. In the dining room, it will be the table. In the living room, you can balance out the room with the sofa at the center and two chairs on the sides. The coffee table and rug bring it together to make a statement. In a larger living room, make two groupings of furniture instead of one, to fill out the space evenly.


Vary Heights


Composition is as important in decorating as it is in photography. In photography, it is called “fill the frame.” In decorating, you want to draw the eye upward. A room where all the furnishings are the same height will appear uninteresting. It is important to place tall pieces next to short pieces. For example, a low back sofa might do well next to an armoire or bookshelf.


Tall items are difficult to find but are essential to any successful room. A room will feel off balance if all pieces are the same low height. A floor lamp to add height can be good middle point between the sofa and the ceiling. To balance the height of a lamp on the left, you might consider adding a hung piece of art on the wall of the right. Large plants can also work to balance the height. Varying heights is the key to successful design.


Balance Heavy or Bold Pieces


Don’t place a grouping of large, shiny, or colorful items in one area. Instead spread them out over the space. Balance a foundational furniture piece like a sofa with another foundational piece like a bookshelf across the room. If you have a heavy piece on one side of the room, balance it with a tall or bold piece on the other side. Rearrange and regroup until you find a balance between heavy and light furnishings, as well as bold and soft shapes.


Also, keep in mind the tones in your color palette by imagining your space as a black and white photograph - the tone of a space should not be all dark or all light. Balance bold color with large pattern, bright shades with cooler ones, warm hues with texture. Alternatively, choose a grouping of similar hues that vary in intensity and scatter them evenly throughout the room. Ideally, the goal is to create ambiance rather than perfection. You want to blend rather than match.

Gauguin would approve of this marble mario bellini il colonnato coffee table, oversized natural coral specimen, and extra large custom beni ourain rug in a brooklyn townhome style living room


"What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity… something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue.”

- Henri Matisse