Today we’re talking about balance in design, the first Principle of the series!
Chapter 6: Balance!
Well, we are moving right along in our Elements and Principles of Design series, and we have covered all of the Elements. Now we will discuss the Principles of Design, which are guidelines for using the Elements of Design. So if you’ve been feeling a little lost on the “how” part of things, hang with me for the Principles of Design half of the series and it will all come together for you. I promise!
Visual Weight Basics
Okay, great, but what is visual weight then? Well, every object draws your eye to a certain degree, which is known as visual weight. The more visual weight something has, the more you are visually drawn to it. The goal of balance is to arrange the elements of design in such a manner that the space is visually balanced to create harmony.
When considering the visual weight of items,
- Darker-colored items appear heavier than lighter-colored items.
- Heavily textured items appear heavier than smooth items.
- Complex shapes appear heavier than simple shapes.
- Larger items appear heavier than smaller items.
- Lighter objects can be combined to even out the visual weight of a heavier object.
Types of Balance
If you place an imaginary line down the center of your space, you have symmetrical balance if the elements on both sides mirror each other. Symmetrical balance is often found in nature, including our bodies. It creates a feeling of stability, rest, and calmness in a space.
If you place an imaginary line down the center of your space, you have asymmetrical balance if the elements are visually balanced. As opposed to symmetrical balance, where you have the same objects on either side, with asymmetrical balance, you have objects with similar visual weight on each side. This type of balance creates a dynamic feeling of movement in a space.
Radial balance, as its name suggests, is a circular balance of sorts, with the elements balanced around a central point. Some examples of this include clocks, light fixtures, and chairs around a table. Radial balance is a great way to highlight a focal point, by placing that feature in the center.
How to Apply Balance
Choose your focal point, and make that the center of your room. Focal points can be fireplaces, beds, dining tables, anything that you want to be the main focus of your room. From there, if you’re going for symmetry, arrange items on either side of the focal point symmetrically, using the same objects in the same position on either side of your focal point. Similarly, radial balance can be achieved by positioning like items around your focal point. If you’re looking for more of a dynamic balance, you’ll want to arrange items around your focal point so that you have even visual weight on either side.
Go Forth and Balance!
Determining balance in a space really just takes some thought and practice, especially with asymmetrical balance. You can gain confidence with balance by trying out different arrangements to see what works and what is visually appealing. I like to play with balance in my home on a smaller scale, with vignettes. This is a great way to work with balance on a budget.
For more affordable and practical ways to use the Elements and Principles of Design to make your house a home, check out my other Elements and Principles of Design posts. And be sure to stay tuned for the rest of my Elements and Principles of Design series!