POP QUIZ: What are the definitions of and differences between Scale and Proportion. Not sure? Think you know but, then again, maybe not? Don’t worry, a lot of people out there have trouble with these two words and without a true understanding of them, MAJOR interior design catastrophes can occur. How so? We’ve tapped talented Pensacola, Florida designer, Lacy Phillips of Lacy Phillips Designs, to clear up the confusion and set us straight on our path to interior geometric happiness!
BACKGROUND: Lacy Phillips is known for creating interiors with an understated ellegance that is both comfortable and inviting. Her attention to detail and versatility are characteristics often applauded by clients. A passion for antiques and unusual things naturally surfaces in her work, as well as her appreciation of clean lines and modern sensibilities. Ultimately, Lacy believes a successful project results when the space reflects the interests and personality of her clients with a level of sophistication and fine-tuning that only an interior designer can provide.
Lacy began her interior design career in Dallas, Texas before moving Lacy Phillips Designs to her hometown of Pensacola, Florida in 2008. She is an Allied Member of ASID (American Society of Interior Designers).
Scale and Proportion
A client purchased a new home. It was a dream….high ceilings, a spacious floor plan, majestic windows. Move-in day was exciting but there was quite a surprise when the furniture from the previous house began to be placed and suddenly the situation became unsettling…”My sofa….my bookcase….my bed….they just seem so small!” Her previous house had smaller rooms with eight foot ceilings and furniture was a perfect fit for the space, but not ideal for the new residence. That is when I introduced her to the two design principles of scale and proportion.
I still recall my Intro to Design Course when this topic was introduced – I was confused. How are scale and proportion related and what is the difference? You can look at it like this:
Scale is the overall size of one object and Proportion is how the size of that object compares to other elements in the space. Scale is absolute, proportion is relative.
In designing a fabulous space, these principles need to work together to create harmony, comfort and interest to the eye. So how do you do that? Here are a few tips I try to follow:
1. Let the architecture be your guide…..Be it a majestic home with cathedral ceilings or a cozy bungalow, allow the architectural elements set the tone. A dainty French chair may not hold its own next to a 10 foot tall stone fireplace just as a King size canopy bed can be overwhelming in a smaller bedroom with low ceilings. Designers look at everything from interior trim to door heights to building materials to relate to the home and determine how to design for that space.
2. Don’t forget about the people who live there…..While you want your architecture to influence your decisions, remember a home’s inhabitants! Nothing is more unfortunate then a beautiful home that lacks comfort. Isn’t it funny how the man of the house often has his favored chair? It rarely is because of its good looks, but often because the scale is just right for him to lounge comfortably with a cold drink and watch television.
3. Strive for Balance…… A proportionate room is a balanced room. While I am a big fan of symmetry, it is not always required to achieve balance. Rather, simply look at the weight of different areas in a room and attempt to distribute that accordingly. Avoid having a room become top heavy – a 90″ sofa or large armoire always needs a significant something to mirror it, whether it be furniture a collection of art.
4. Play with height……..You never want a room to appear to the on the same plane. It lacks visual interest and can make the space look unproportionate. I avoid this, in a living room for example, by trying to have different heights with my seat backs and never hanging wall art or mirrors the same height as my door openings or other furniture pieces
5. When in doubt, go big……Have fun with scale when decorating. I’d rather make a statement with one fabulous, large scale accessory then several on a coffee table. Buffet lamps can get an instant update with a new pair of oversized barrel lamp shades. A large scale crystal chandelier can set a dramatic tone in a dining room. Playing with scale is not limited to furniture and accessories. A large scale pattern on a fabric or wallpaper can have a stunning impact.
Have fun experimenting with scale and design!!
Thank you, Lacy, for educating us on such an important topic! For more information about Lacy, read below!
Lacy Phillips Designs
240 West Garden Street
Pensacola, Florida 32502
(All images courtesy of Lacy Phillips Designs)
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