It’s the Principle of the Matter: Balance

The second Principle of Design is Balance.

What is Balance?

How we interpret the balance in a room directly relates to our physical sense of balance or equilibrium. When a space is out of balance, it makes us feel physically uncomfortable. When we look at a room, we are visually interpreting gravity within the design. For instance, large elements regardless of the weight appear heavier than small items.

Assigning Weight

We visually assign “weight” to all parts of the design including objects, color, and textures. This weight is influenced by the following:

  • Position of an object – a large object placed near the center of the room is balanced nicely by a smaller object placed on the outer edge
  • Quantity – even though an object might be small, multiple small ones balance one large object
  • Isolation – one object placed by itself has more visual weight
  • Color – the more intense the hue, the heavier the object feels

Symmetrical Balance

Of the several types of balance in design – the two we are most familiar with are symmetrical and asymmetrical. Symmetrical balance is formal symmetry, or rather bilateral symmetry. Think of a mirror image – it is created by repeating the reverse of a design on the opposite side of an imaginary center line. Symmetrical balance is very ordered and stable but can be boring. Just add pieces that are interesting like the room below, and your space will be beautiful.

Symmetrical Balance

Asymmetrical Balance

While symmetrical balance achieves balance through repetition, asymmetrical balance achieves it through contrast. Also known as informal balance, asymmetry combines different elements with equal visual weight to achieve balance within a space. When entering a space with this type of balance, your eye automatically goes to the largest element and then seeks out another item to “balance” it.   Then all right with the world! The room below achieves balance with two chairs on one side are “equivalent” to the sofa.

Asymmetrical Balance

Balance = Comfort

So now you will know when you walk into a room and start to feel uncomfortable, it may not be because you are dressed in shorts and flip flops and everyone else is in suits and ties – it’s because the room is out of balance!


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