Scale & Proportion, Part 1: The Basics

Clients often ask me, “How do I know what size something should be?”  Interior designers always use scale and proportion when determining whether or not a piece works in a room.

The easiest way to think about scale is to equate it with size , but it is important to remember that large or small scale implies that you are comparing it to something else.  For example, an 82 inch round dining table would usually be considered large scale, but in a 20 foot wide dining room, it would be right at home.  The scale of the room would complement the size of the table.  A room can be quite large and still have an intimate feel as long as the scale of the pieces in it is appropriate, as shown here with this dining room group from Marge Carson.

Seville dining room from Marge Carson
Seville collection by Marge Carson

You can also use a large scale piece to make a bold statement.  Here, the oversized artwork creates a dramatic backdrop for the entryway.

Antigua Chaise by Marge Carson

The key to creating an interesting, inviting space is to use big things, small things, tall things and short things.  If every piece is the same size nothing stands out.

Proportion is a little more difficult to describe. You might be familiar with the phrase “Golden Ratio” or “Golden Rectangle.”  These refer to the proportional system that the Greeks believed to be the most pleasing to the eye and what designers strive for when balancing space.  Basically it is a 2:3 ratio.  Some common things that you might recognize in that ratio would be rugs and photos.  In both, standard sizes are 4 x 6, 8 x 10 and 9 x 12.  Proportion is constant, regardless of size.

Imagine a dining table 24″ wide and 96″ long.  You won’t find one like this because the proportion is wrong.  The proportion of most things is already determined, but it is my job as a designer to utilize my experience and knowledge to help you create a pleasing, inviting and comfortable space in your home.

Century 42C_305_Top
This Century table is good example of proportion. It is 42″ x 74″.

Christopher Guy 60-0053This Christopher Guy chair is out of proportion, but intentionally so, as it is meant to be an eye-catching, bold look. Maybe not for everyone, right?

I would be happy to make this a simple and fun shopping experience for you.  Please give me a call: 336.822. 3000 ext. 2859

Cherry Yount | Furnitureland South Design Consultant

{All images courtesy of the manufacturers mentioned.}

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