Hello class,

Today we are going to have a quick lesson on a topic that is really essential to Interior Design: Proportion and Scale. You think to yourself, what’s the difference? Well, I am here today to tell you the answer to that question and how scale and proportion are both two vital principals of Interior Design that can make or break a design from the second someone walks into the space.

So let us start with Scale.

Say you walk into a large, beautiful space-everything is top of the line from the beautiful two-story crystal chandelier down to the priceless silk Persian rugs. And than your eyes stop in the middle of the space. The centerpiece of the enormous room is a little sofa that can hardly fit two people on it. And next to it are tiny end tables and some miniature accent chairs to match. This, my friends, is what you would call a lack of consideration for scale. And unfortunately, this happens more than you can imagine when it comes to selecting furniture pieces, accessories, patterned fabrics and other design elements.

So, to formally define scale, according to a book I refer to constantly: Interior Design Reference Manual by David Kent Ballast, “scale is the relative size of something as related to another element of known size.”  When you are designing your space, please consider the size of items to go into the room and how it will look in the space. Buying the larger high back sofa may have been a better solution for the example above  because it would be to scale with the rest of the room. Below are some great diagrams from  Interior Design Reference Manual to think about when making design decisions in regards to scale.

The first diagram explains that scale is based on a known object such as human scale or the scale of an object, such as a chair. Say you have an existing chair in your space that you know the size of, take that size and scale your other furniture pieces to match to avoid a piece not being too bulky or a piece looking to small.

Scale Pic 2

In the image below, the door openings’ size is seen in relationship to another object or space. For the top instance, the openings are smaller  making the space they open into appear larger than in the second instance below.

Scale Image 1

While scale relates to the size of an object when compared with the size of the space in which it is located, proportion refers to how the elements within an object relate to the object as a whole. For instance, a large chair’s skinny arms may be seen as not proportional to the rest of the chair.  Below are some great examples where scale and proportion are properly taken into consideration when designing a space.

For this large space below, the designer kept in mind the scale of the furniture pieces to the size of the room.  Larger more substantial sofas and tables are used to fill the space.


This room below is just lovely. The designer created an intimate seating arrangement and made sure that the proportions of each piece is harmonious with the remaining pieces to allow for a welcoming, comfortable atmosphere.

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Finally, this use of proportion and scale is unique in the image below. This seating arrangement is located in a large room with high ceilings and a wall full of windows. In order for the seating and accessories to be scaled to the large space, the designer incorporated a high back wing chair and tall tree to balance the proportion between the space and furniture.


The image below is a great example of how proportion is taken into consideration when selecting patterns. If the pattern was larger, it would not look visually stable. The size of the pattern is proportional to the size of the console. The same applies for the fabric pattern selected for the chair below.

proportion_house beautiful2

So, before you decide on buying that sofa or chair that you have been eyeing for the past six months, really consider all aspects of the piece. How will it fit in the space? Is it to scale with the size of the room it will be going in? Will it be proportional to the rest of the items already in that space? And if you are still having trouble with making sure everything is to scale or proportion, give us a call or send us an email. You can contact us via our website at https://www.vrainteriors.com, or you can find us on Facebook, Linked-in and Pinterest.

Posted by Reem T.

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