5 Tips to Balance A Room





5 Tips to Balance A Room


My phone buzzed and it was a text from my friend.  She sent snaps of her table arrangement for her dinner party and was asking....."What is wrong with this?  It seems off!"   (btw- the above image is not her table)

And sadly she was right.  I was able to quickly tell her what was missing and gave her examples of items to add, edit and enhance the look of her table.  How did I do that?  It's years of practice of course but it comes from a rule that I adopted of the 5 Things. Yes, there is the documented 7 elements of interior design.  That is more academic and not everyone instantly can translate that information into solutions for their space.   

First of all, BALANCE is everything.  "Off" is another word for imbalance and so many of my clients have called me after they have wasted money on furnishings/items. They continue to get it wrong and can't figure out why.  The good thing is I do know why and THAT gives me the chance to forge a relationship with a new client and hopefully for years to come.

Here are my 5


Light is incredibly important - vital even... but all spaces do not have ample light.  I then suggest items that provide or reflect light. Light colors, light fixtures that provide both direct and ambient light, glass, mirrors, reflective surfaces like metal, something with a touch of shine.   I even had a bar remodeled into a large aquarium in a very dark family room in Newport Beach.  They loved it.


 Depending on the client, you may use strong color with contrast or just pops or keep it neutral but just as nature has undulating and transitioning color so should interiors.  A neutral palette is rich when gradations of the color are used.  Currently bright white is the trend and it elevates the simplest items to art form...keeping the look clean, simple and elegant

Color is a very personal thing and while it is fun to use dynamic punches of color. However your client might really dislike them.   Color is a whole blog unto itself but refining what is appropriate for the space and especially what your client responds to best is very important.  Below, this client only liked beige and wood tones.  I had to convince him that gradations of brown would ground the space and make it more interesting to the eye....Just like the beautiful lake and nature outside of his windows.

NOTE: Most of my work is spent gently educating the client on why I have selected items and designed a scheme or chosen a furniture piece.  We are asking them to go outside of their comfort zone and this takes a finesse in building their trust in your choices. Even if they have seen your portfolio, work, and awards.   It doesn't matter.  Each person is different and its best to start with introducing new ideas without taking them too far away from what they are comfortable with. To them, its a risk.


Clients are often drawn to the same thing and buy too much of it.  The balance of textures in a space is important and usually, they have too much of it or not enough.   Being able to quickly point out where things look right and where they can be improved is a WIN for you and as you practice with your own space and of course everyone that knows you (I am sure they ask) you will get so quick at these 5  You will be an expert in no time.



Every bachelor has a huge sofa in a space that it just doesn't fit in right?  They like the luxury of a sectional that is overstuffed and oversized in a tiny dark space.  That is the extreme but I have been called into projects where the client was oversold on furniture.  They have spent far too much money and the space looks terrible.  Most people do not understand scale and they purchase something in a showroom, which is huge and open, and then are stuck when it doesn't work in their space.

Scale can make an impact and set the tone.  For instance an oversized painting on a large wall and nothing else.  Oversized lanterns over a dining table - big impact.  But typically clients don't know when to apply this and when to edit it.

It is all about the balance and finding that mix that works.  Another word could also be Line.  I am always surprised when clients do not take advantage of soaring ceiling heights and tall windows.  Unless its a modern with views that are breathtaking, drape panels can quickly enhance the space.

Grouping furniture in intimate settings helps with large rooms and grounds the space.


This is something that I believe is essential.  It could be a plant, stone or something curated like a hand woven basket or throw.  Organic is the characteristic that is most often missing.  People will say I want my home to feel more gracious and homey and usually it is because they haven't added the organic element into their space.  Some might think that means "texture" and texture is fabrics, rugs, upholstery, wall treatments, etc.   Organic is that item that is unusual or growing or looks like its growing, even wood balances out a room that has too many cool clean elements.  It is something that I always end up adding in my consults with clients homes and larger projects with property developers.  They often forget to add in a bit of nature to soften and create a more inviting space.


Once you are used to looking specifically for these characteristics, you will quickly be able to correct an unbalanced space......and more importantly, explain WHY   you are selecting what you are selecting.  Remember, you will be more successful if you become adept at educating the client so they can better understand the process.  It also builds trust and they allow you more leniency with choices.


Elizabeth Ribons, ASID CID


Better by Design is a resource for tips, first-hand experience, insight, and events.  Providing online courses and a community for the interior design business as a way to support designers launching their own design businesses.  Most designers start out solely on their own.  Providing a resource for topics related specifically to the ID Business is what Better by Design is all about.  "It's what you didn't learn in design school"

Elizabeth has owned her own design firm for over 20 years.   Stay connected.  Get the Friday 5 - thumbnail updates of  the week's best posts.  Click below to join the community.

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