Balance is a principle of interior design that visually stabilises a space. The definition of balance describes it as the harmonious arrangement of components – it ensures that no single element in a room overpowers another in terms of visual weight or dominance.
When a room has a good balance, it feels calm, relaxing and comfortable. However, when the elements in the room are off-balance, it creates a feeling of discomfort and visual dissonance.
From the use of colour and texture to furniture arrangement, balancing interiors can be challenging. In this guide from Minotti London, we explain why balance is vital in interior design and how to achieve it in a space.
The Foundations of Balance in Interior Design
In interior design, balance is a way to create a relaxing environment and add unity to the space. It can be achieved by combining colours, shapes and textures that perfectly harmonise with each other. The arrangement of the furniture is another element that will determine how balanced a room looks and feels.
Creating an intricately balanced space isn’t about following exact measurements or rules. It’s about creating an environment where everything feels in its place. However, there are some fundamental rules that are worth following for anyone looking to achieve the perfect balance in an interior design project.
Create a Symmetrical Arrangement
One of the simplest and most satisfying ways to create balance in a space is through the symmetrical alignment of furniture, which is amplified here as the seating arrangement complements the symmetry of the windows | Designed by Rodolfo Dordoni for © Minotti London
The foundations of balance are built on the principles of symmetry and asymmetry. Symmetry is one of the easiest ways to create balance because it involves repeating the same elements on both sides of an axis or centre line.
Symmetrical balance in a room can often mean mirroring similar objects on either side of the room axis. Placing two sofas identical in shape, size and colour on either side of the centre line facing each other can be an example of such symmetry.
The balance created by symmetry is often associated with elegance and refinement, as it draws attention to the centre of the room and creates a sense of order and calm.
Create an Asymmetrical Arrangement
Sometimes an asymmetrical design can be just as balanced and pleasing to the eye as a perfect symmetry | Designed by Marcio Kogan / studio mk27 for © Minotti London
While symmetrical balance is based on exact mathematical proportion and balance of elements, asymmetrical balance focuses on visual weight, scale and texture. Contrary to symmetry, asymmetry refers to objects that are not balanced or equal on both sides of the centre line.
Of course, it can be significantly harder to create balance with an asymmetrical design, as asymmetry is naturally unbalanced, but when done properly, the final result can be stunning.
To achieve asymmetrical balance one should arrange different elements in a way that creates interest without looking unbalanced. For example, hanging works of art at different heights on a wall can feel more interesting than the formal rigidity of some symmetrical designs, while still feeling balanced.
Radial symmetry can be achieved with circular decorations and furniture and will instantly make a space feel more balanced | Designed by Rodolfo Dordoni for © Minotti London
The third type of balance in interior design is called radial symmetry, which is often found in nature, for example, in the petals of a sunflower. This type of symmetry is used in interior design to create a soothing feeling and is often used in feng shui because it is considered to be an auspicious pattern for life.
In interior design, radial symmetry is created when everything in the room radiates from a central point. The centre of the room is the focal point and all the other elements radiate outward from it in straight or curvy lines.
An example of this form of symmetry can be a round dining table placed in the middle of the dining room, with chairs surrounding it in a circular pattern.
This type of arrangement creates an elegant look in any room — especially ones with high ceilings and large open spaces such as living rooms, dining rooms, and even kitchens.
Choose a Balanced Colour Scheme
As well as the use of symmetry, balance can also be achieved with a carefully planned distribution of colours in a space. While sometimes this may be the desired effect, a room full of clashing colours will usually appear unbalanced and chaotic to the eye.
To avoid this visual dissonance, the colour of walls should be well-coordinated with the colour of furnishings and decorative elements. For example, pairing white walls with a charcoal grey sofa can create contrast but will still keep visual balance in a room, as the colours are well suited to complement each other.
To create a well-balanced colour scheme, one might consider following the 60-30-10 rule, which states that an interior space should be composed of three colours. However, these colours should be proportionally distributed in the following manner:
- 60% primary colour
- 30% complementary colour
- 10% accent colour
While there are several ways to bend the 60-30-10 rule, by following this simple formula one can ensure that the colours in a space work together in harmony.
Balance in Interior Design: The Art of Equilibrium
In interior design, balance is the art of creating a sense of calm, order and unification. As discussed in this guide, balance can be achieved in a number of ways, including:
- Creating a symmetrical arrangement
- Designing an asymmetrical layout
- Utilising radial symmetry
- Choosing a balanced colour scheme
To create balance in the design of a space, one must understand the principles of symmetry and asymmetry, proportion, unity and colour theory in interior design.