Interior Home Designs: Getting the Balance Right
The Right Balance
It is very difficult to be a purist about furniture unless you have enough money to buy only the most ravishing pieces. Even then, with the best taste and intentions in the world, the result can look sadly disappointing and museum-like — perhaps even downright cold. That sense of balance, always important in decoration, applies as much to the ‘feeling’ of a room as do physical proportions. It is so much more interesting to mix a bit of flamboyance with simplicity, humour with very serious pieces, and flippancy with solidity.
In an otherwise modern room, at least one or two old things, even if they are only accessories (a painting, some old prints or an antique shawl or rug), will make all the difference to the room’s warmth — and will, indeed, show off the spare clean lines of good 20th-century furniture all the better. And 19th-century furniture — especially japanned and turned bamboo, chesterfields and bentwood rocking chairs — goes well with today’s contemporary furniture, with its light woods, lacquered cubes, glass and natural textures.
Of course, mixing requires a certain amount of nerve. Many people have a fixed idea in their heads about what goes with what, and tend to be overly careful. Moreover, to experiment in mixing several styles demands a sureness of taste and a degree of experience.
A unifying background certainly helps in such experiments. Coir matting, for example, is a perhaps unexpected unifier of different styles, and is much better than wall-to-wall carpeting or a varnished wood floor with rugs. Another good way of unifying a room is to have an all-white background: white walls, floor and windows and window treatments.
Balance and Harmony
The balance of furnishings and accessories is an important consideration. A large sofa, for example, should be balanced by a sofa-table, desk or work table. A large plant in one corner can be balanced by, say, an étagere or a bank of bookshelves in another. Balance the mass of an armoire or a bureau bookcase with a large painting or group of paintings on the wall opposite — but be careful not to hang a large painting over a piece of smaller furniture: the whole setup will look hopelessly top-heavy. Similarly, too small a painting or print on a large wall will look just as unfortunate and lost.
The same points about balance apply to colour. Repeat the same colour here and there in a home. The colour of a pillow or cushion at one end of the room can be echoed in a painting or the mount or mat of a print at the opposite end. The tones of a rug can be repeated in upholstery, and flowers can be used to reflect the colour of a throw. All of these may seem quite small details, but they are all the sort of touches that give an agreeable sense of harmony to a home, and harmony, after all, is what most decoration is all about.