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What Is The Difference Between Scale And Proportion In Interior Design?

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It is important to understand the concept behind scale and proportion. Designers need to be aware of every principle and element in a design. Interior designing is not exactly easy. There are too many elements between designs and the way they interact to affect the feel of interiors.

Great use of scale and proportion in this dining and kitchen area
Great use of scale and proportion in this dining and kitchen area

What Is The Difference Between Scale And Proportion in interior design? Often, a proportion is the word used interchangeably with scale. In interior design, scale and proportion are two different things. Scale implies that the objects are compared when one object’s actual size is known. On the other hand, proportion relates to two objects’ general size without knowing any information about their actual measurements, also known as scale.

Designers aim to get the space proportions they aim for in their design, in most cases. However, there are sometimes design goals that are disproportionate. Read and learn more about this important interior design principle of interior design.

What Is The Difference Between Scale And Proportion?

Proportion is relative while the scale is absolute. Proportion requires an interior designer who comprehends interactions between items in a three-dimensional space For many decorators, it is not easy to explain when a room’s objects feel out of proportion. This is when they sometimes say that a designer has a “good eye” for design.

In the application of proportions, there are no right and wrong answers. Getting the proportion of a space “perfect” depends on the interior designer’s intent.

The Relationship Between Objects Matter

In interior design, scale refers to the way two or more objects relate. Many times, the object’s size is compared to our scale as humans.

For example, in the workplace and the home, standard heights are created for chairs and countertops fit the average person’s height. Hallway widths are designs for people to pass each other comfortably.0 As you can see, the environment is built based on the common anthropometric human-scale data.

In interior design, proportion refers to balancing elements of design such as texture, color, and shape. Architects and designers link proportion often with scale, referring to comparative sizes of objects. 

Proportion is a fixed, absolute measurement. It is the relative right or wrongness of arrangements. Correct proportions are achieved by repeating textures, colors, and shapes, providing variety, style and controlling light.

Decorating Using Scale And Proportion

When home-decorating, most people have an idea of what they like but are unsure about how to put it all together. A house is beautiful not because of the designer upholstery or the amount of expensive art on the walls but because of the feelings, they invoke.

For those trying to decorate within budgets, this is good news. Proportion and scale are what make a room or a home inviting and warm. These can be accomplished with the right information to work with.

Proportion refers to an item’s shape and how this relates to other items within a room. For example, a square table with a huge rectangular dish in its center won’t look 100% right because the dish won’t be in proportion to the table.

Scale and proportion between light and table in dining room interior design

In interior design, they don’t refer to the same things. Scale refers to how items relate to room size or something else. For instance, who hasn’t crammed an overly large sofa into a tiny living room? A designer would say that the scale of the sofa is wrong for the room.

This light pendant is to big for table | Example of wrong proportion
This light pendant is too big for table | Example of wrong proportion

Most decorators use these terms interchangeably to avoid confusion. Whether they are referring to proportion or scale, keep in mind that it is how the elements of design relate with one another within a space.

11 Tips How to Create Correct Scale And Proportion

There are a few things you can do to create the right proportion and scale for your home. Keep in mind that these are general guidelines and are not hard and fast rules to follow. If you have a new house you are decorating, the rules will work. For others that have a gut feel for designing, feel free to break away from the rules once in a while.

1. Repetition

Use colors and patterns that repeat. For example, a square coffee table and a square panel of wainscoting on your wall maintain the room’s proportions. However, make sure not to overdo this. Repetition is an important part of rhythm in interior design. Learn more about it.

Scale in interior using repetition

2. Patterns

Patterns need to be within the scale in a small room. In other words, when your room is small, use fewer prints and make sure they are smaller patterns. Big rooms can handle more colors and larger prints. If your room is small but like big prints, make sure that the print is used sparingly and has tons of white space around it.

3. White Space

A room has to have white space. This is space above and around furniture. Rooms don’t look quite as good when every square millimeter is filled up. Eyes need to rest in spaces. Provide this by uncovering some surfaces and leaving some walls bare. Also, white furniture is always trendy and timeless to have. I love to buy old furniture and repaint it white. If you want to see my best pain choice, click here and check it on Amazon more in detail.

4. Height

Higher ceilings mean that furniture can be more imposing and taller. In contrast, lower ceilings will mean lower decor and furniture with less height. The exception of this rule is to use modern, low furniture in rooms with taller ceilings to acquire an effect that is nothing short of dramatic.

5. Furniture

In every room, the main furniture sets that stage for the sizes of all other furniture. For example, an over-sized couch won’t look very good with a tiny side table beside it.

6. Size

Large rooms can handle large-scale decor and furniture. Small rooms need more delicate, petite decor and medium or small-scale furniture.

Take a nice long stroll throughout your home’s rooms. If something feels off, it may not have the right proportion or scale for the room. Replace, remove or rearrange it until you have the home and rooms that you desire.

7. Texture

An interior space gains interest and richness with a variety of textures. Designers use paint or paper for wall textures to highly focal points. Area rugs and carpets add texture to floors. This balances wood paneling on the wall or smooth paint. Space’s proportional balance is affected by texture.

8. Light

Light designs including artificial and natural sources are significant in achieving an interior space’s harmony. Light affects space perception. Thus, controlling like does contribute to proportion success. 

Light brings focus to an area. When the focus is brought to an area, the shadow causes space to seemingly retreat. Interior designers approve light to highlight artwork and use the lack of light to guide viewers away from a corner storage fixture, for example. 

Provide good light for activities in space such as working on a computer, crafting or reading. Dim lighting is sometimes conducive to relaxing conversations or viewing television. Shutters, shades, and curtains help in controlling natural lighting. Built-in lighting systems have rheostats to help control the brightness. Individual lamps can be controlled by 3-way bulbs.

9. Regular Space

Proportions in space have to do with objects being placed within spaces. For instance, balance large break-fronds on one wall with two medium chairs on the side. If each chair is large, the furniture would look overscaled. 

In contrast, if the chairs are too small, the proportions would be off. Small framed photo clusters in a group on a wall opposite a big canvas is another way to create proportion in space. In the hall, combine a plant in a jardiniere with a bench and a grandfather clock to achieve spatial proportions.

10. Shape

Within a space, repeating shapes establishes visual harmonies that the eyes agree with. For instance, if you have square openings in the fireplace, repeat the same shaped square in a lineup of square-framed canvases hung on above the fireplace. 

Find an area rug with square patterns to match. Repeating square shapes gives a sense of order and sleek style. Repeat furniture’s curved shapes, accessories or fabric patterns to produce elaborate, complex effects such as a Victorian style, with satisfying proportions.

11. Color

Repeating colors in various areas within space creates a pleasant balance of color. Repeating a painting’s vivid blue hung over the mantle in a chair’s patterned fabric or adding striped pillows in several hues of blue on the sofa and a rug with deep blue borders will work well.

Scale and proportion in interior using colors

Another formula suggests for the color to repeat in odd numbers of times such as five times or three times.

However, it can be hard to apply formulas such as using odd numbers when variables include decorative style placements and sizes. In your color scheme, include various hues and you will be able to achieve color proportions in harmonious senses.

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