Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Trouble with Balance



Balancing act via Google


If you know a little about Feng Shui you must have heard about Yin & Yang. They are the dual energies in life named such by the ancient Chinese. In western culture we may refer to it as opposites attracting, male/female balance or waiting for the other shoe to drop! All of us know inside when something is off kilter and tweaking is needed to balance it out. Somedays I eat too much junk and soon I am craving healthier choices or at least some protein for stability.

The same is true in decorating/designing our spaces. When I put together an idea for a room I look at the big picture, then mentally start to fill it up with pieces needed for balancing it out. If I'm looking at the overall design  and the main colors will be warm, it may be appropriate that I use cool colors to balance it out. In good Feng Shui the five elements need to be represented as well. Not too hard, right? Well, not so easy either!


Beth Webb via Houzz

Look at the picture above, lovely and serene. A beautifully done beige and white wonder. Why is it so comfortable in feel? Balance and in this case its cousin symmetry is the answer. Well, that and the five elements are represented.

The artwork balances the windows, makes it a whole unit. A horizontal piece of art would have thrown off the dramatic impact of the height. The two chairs balance each other and so do the lamps. The side tables are in balance but notice are not the same. Using pairs in the core pieces makes it symmetrical. Oh, and the textures are gorgeous!  See here for a refresher on what is an element. 


Design by Amelie see more here

The French are masters of symmetrical design. Modern, fresh and hip this room has balanced cool contemporary style with the rustic outdoor feeling of animals and wood. Water, earth and metal elements are well represented too. Love the pop of color on the right and left sides of the room as you enter. Symmetry all over the place but things are not necessarily matched!

Let's take a look at a nice space that I like, it just has a couple of problems. Too be totally fair, this was the before picture (go here for the cute update) of a new homeowner.

via Young House Love

The room has really good beginnings and the five elements are represented but I see this scenario a lot when I am called out to a consultation. It seems a bit off doesn't it, have any ideas? 

One mistake that I see often is the wrong sized area rug.  Area rugs are horrifically expensive and the sizes are confusing! The rug needs to be large enough for the furniture to fit on it or small enough to fit into the space with the furniture surrounding it. Here's a designer cheat; use a huge room sized sea grass rug and place your smaller expensive rug on top. Voila, perfect sizing every time! This one should be moved to the left about 2 feet to put the back legs of the sofa on it. But that would only compound the problem.

Notice the left side of the room is heavier in feel that the right side? That's balance! The furniture, rug, colored pictures and lamps are to the left to be balanced by a teeny tiny TV and console. The patio door helps and later they do put draperies on it which adds to the weigh on the right. Pictures spread out over the approximate size on both walls would do a lot too. Or maybe a huge wall hung TV!

I have a problem with the open ended sectionals I see in ample rooms. Just because it seats 15 compactly doesn't mean other chairs aren't needed to balance out the room. A chair on one or both ends would anchor the set and help with conversation flow in a full house. I would recommend a good sized coffee table for scale. Cute home!




Recently I read Nate Berkus' new book "The Things That Matter" and was so reminded to add into your decor only items that mean something to you and your family. Anyone can go shopping and fill a space with new items, but if you take your time to edit out the impersonal and place old and new cherished objects in your house, you make a home. A home with soul.

So there you go, a primer on balance, but that is only the beginning. Make sure to balance Yin & Yang in the room, add the five elements, loads of cherished items and you are well on your way to a balanced room! 

    


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