Play With Proportion

By Christine Brun

June 21, 2017 4 min read

A gigantic decorating score is using a few outsized accent pieces in a small room. Sounds like the wrong tack, right? It isn't, I assure you! The idea can make you nervous at first. That is because it is counterintuitive. The tricky part is to realize that in order to successfully accomplish the feat, you must use precision and care. No doubt this design can go wrong quickly without vigilance. So let's examine how to pull it off.

Often, a pretty small room benefits from having one dominant art piece rather than many smaller items scattered all over the walls. Before you try this, realize that it is a tough plan of attack to remain faithful to, and it requires discipline. It's challenging because most of us own six or seven framed pieces that have always hung on our walls, and the impulse is to use everything. However, a main room, such as a living room or dining room, will be far better served if you can make peace with focusing on one or two major items. After the remodel of a ranch style home, I designed the furnishings and art arrangement for new living room/dining room combination area. The room was set up with a sitting area around the stone fireplace and featured a round dining table at one end. Over the table hung a sleek contemporary light fixture that claimed the space as the dining area. We settled on framing one antique silk kimono in a plexiglass display box and centering it on the wall opposite the table in order to further define the dining area. As you might imagine, the finished piece was about 6 feet tall and dramatic. Over the sofa, we hung three framed prints. That was the extent of the artwork in the space: precise and deliberate.

Here we see a relatively small room that sits adjacent to an open dining bar and kitchen. A leaning piece of art serves as the designated barrier between the two functional spaces. The floor lamp is equipped with an oversized shade. This enables one item to anchor one end of the seating arrangement. The chrome hanging fixtures over the eating bar are huge compared to the rest of the space, another dramatic way to define space and deliver panache. Notice the relatively petite cocktail table pushed to the left side of the sofa with the slanted arm. They are hugging the space closest to the egg chair and the standing lamp.

Designers use the term "scale" to describe the relationship between a piece of furniture, a lamp, an area rug or an art object and the entire room. It is what you feel instantly upon walking into a room. Getting that just right is how you create a sense of harmony. No single item or piece of furniture should overpower a space, but that does not mean that you cannot push the limits and opt for eloquence in major items. We come back to that well-worn phrase "less is more," uttered by famed minimalist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. That means two pieces of furniture to sit upon in a small room are better than five.

This specific room example is effortless in its simplicity. So, in a small home, try to resist the urge to clutter up your walls. When you want to create a collage of family photos or small individually framed art items, confine the assemblage to a hallway, or maybe map out a 4-by 4-foot section of the wall and stay within those confines. In this way, a group of individual items becomes one larger mass and makes the space feel larger. Try it!

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego-based interior designer and author of "Small Space Living." Send questions and comments to her by email at christinebrun@sbcglobal.net. To find out more about Christine Brun and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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