How do I balance a room in my home?

Typically, when people consider how to balance as room, symmetry — or mirror images — comes to mind. While that’s always a viable option, it’s far from the only one to choose from.

Types of balance

  • Symmetrical/formal balance: Created by taking the room and splitting it into two halves that mirror each other. For example a living room that features two sofas with a coffee table between them.

  • Asymmetrical/informal balance: In this case, the room is balanced by the repetition of similar forms, lines and colours, but there is no mirroring or exact duplication. A living room done in an asymmetrical style might feature a sofa with an end table on one end and a floor lamp on the other.

  • Radial balance: Radial balance is the most infrequently used option on this list, but it involves similar objects being placed around a common centre point. Seen in dining table arrangements where the same chair is used throughout.

The Benefits of Asymmetry

Adds Visual Interest

Why use asymmetry? The most common reason is that it adds more visual interest. Where the repetition of symmetrical arrangements has a tendency to feel monotonous, asymmetrical looks keep us on our toes.

The Science

There’s actually a psychological basis for why this occurs. It has to do with the way our brains process information. They aim to pick up on as many patterns and repetitions as possible, so symmetrical design makes those rooms very easy to figure out. In asymmetrical spaces, the patterns are less immediately obvious, so it takes our brains a bit longer to process making them more pleasing.

It’s more casual

Take a second to think of all the mirror images you’ve seen in interior design. More than likely, the images you’re thinking of are stately living rooms that feature double couches or a long dining table with two rows of identical chairs. This rigid duplication of symmetrical design has a tendency to present as more formal. 

 Asymmetric arrangements enable the space to feel a bit more casual, a bit more “lived-in.” As such, asymmetrical designs are often favoured in high-traffic areas of the home, such as family rooms. 

What do your rooms look like?