We all know an example of good interior design when we see it. In fact, most of us can make that judgment almost instantly. Have you ever wondered why that ability seems to come to us so instinctually, even though we may not be professional interior designers?
It all has to do with symmetry, or a sense of balance, that has been achieved within a space. Symmetrical designs effect our subconscious, even when they are too subtle to be consciously acknowledged with our first glance. All of us are drawn to balanced images and tend to think them more aesthetically pleasing than the rest
The answer is simple: We love balance because it is right in front of us. The next time you look at your body in the mirror, imagine drawing a line directly down the middle, splitting yourself in half at the navel. Odds are, you’ll find your right and left halves to be fairly symmetrical.
However, we aren’t the only creatures who are inherently balanced. Scientists have found that a closely mirroring ratio – often dubbed The Golden Mean – of 1:1.61 that occurs over and over again in nature. Not only do our bodies meet these proportions, but so do the curvature of seashells, the formation of clouds, and even the circular pattern of our universe.
Since this type of balance is so familiar in our lives, it is easier for our brains to process. Symmetrical interiors are often viewed as more restful and peaceful than their artistically asymmetrical counterparts because we don’t have to work as hard to figure out the use and flow of the space.
When you are designing your interiors, consider the mood that you are trying to achieve in your space. If you want your home to feel like an oasis away from the outside world, balance is key.
Of course, when it comes to interior design, balance doesn’t just have to refer to a line that’s been drawn directly down the middle. No, that would get boring pretty fast. Instead, interior designers have come up with a few ways to achieve a symmetrical feel in a space while still maintaining the visual interest. Check them out:
Reflection: The most common type, as was mentioned above. It can be either vertical or horizontal such as two couches that are divided by a center coffee table or a chair rail that separates the room into a top and bottom half.
Rotational: Refers to objects rotated in a particular direction around a central focal point. Think of a round dining room table or, on a smaller scale, a wreath that adorns your front door.
Transitional: Creating the illusion of motion by repeating the same pattern multiple times within the same space. It’s most commonly seen in tiled floors, back splashes, and wallpaper.
Asymmetry: Purposefully breaking an established pattern of symmetry in order to draw attention to a particular design element. These are often things like a piece of statement furniture or an expensive work of art.
When trying to decide what type of balance to employ in your spaces, first consider the how much room you have to work with. Rotational and transitional do well in large, open areas like foyers and expansive dining rooms, but can feel overwhelming if there is too much repetition crammed into a small area. In tight spaces, reflection symmetry and asymmetry are your best bets since they often feature simpler designs.