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The Principles of Design

Scale & Proportion

Scale and proportion pertain to the size of the furniture and art that you add to a space in relation to the space itself. A bad use of scale and proportion can make the whole room feel empty, crowded, or a combination of the two.

Ceilings can set the standard for how large the furniture can be. If the ceilings are high, large and tall furniture can be used. But if the ceilings are low, smaller or lower furniture should be used too keep the room from feeling cramped.

Don't forget to leave white space in the room. This is also known as empty space above and around furniture. While you don't want the room to feel bare, going overboard can lead to a crowded space with no place for your eyes to rest.



Vertical lines are powerful tools in a designer's pocket, they lift the eyes upward and make rooms appear taller. They also create an air of formality and grandeur, which can be an excellent upgrade when working in small and/or low spaces.


Horizontal lines give a tranquil and solid feeling to a room, a room with few straight horizontal lines can feel unsettling and unstable. They also make rooms appear wider or longer.


Diagonal lines can bring interest and movement to an otherwise tired room. They suggest action and dynamism, as well as excitement as eyes are drawn to them.


Curved lines soften rooms and can act as relief to 'cold' angular features and furniture. They're graceful and provide dignity when used as archways and transoms.

A careful and strategic implementation of horizontal, vertical, diagonal, and curved lines can create an interesting and diverse space. However, going overboard on any or all of these elements can appear frenzied or agitating.


Symmetrical Vs. Asymmetrical

Symmetrical balance a perfect mirror image on either side of a central axis. This treatment brings a feeling of stability and calmness. Symmetry is usually used in arrangements of furniture, mill-work, and fixtures. Asymmetrical balance creates interest, ease, and a feeling of informality and comfort.

Where there is one -symmetrical or asymmetrical-, another should also be present. A room with only asymmetrical would appear off without some sense of order to balance it. A perfectly symmetrical room is dull and boring, liven it up with a bit of contrast!



A simple way to get rhythm is through repeating an element: furniture, accessories, mill-work, lines, etc. in an organized way.


Progression is a great way of bringing soft movement through the room and subtly or boldly implement rhythm through gradation of size. With same objects in a room changing from small to large, or a color from light to dark, this creates a subtle rhythm that draws the eye up, down, or the center of the the gradation line.


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