Interior Design Principles: Achieving Balance in Your Rooms with Symmetry

This week is the second installment of a 5 week series here on the blog in which we're digging into 6 principles of great design. Last week we looked at the differences between scale and proportion and how they work together when designing a room. I promise it's not as boring as it sounds and you can read about it and Shaquille O'neal here. If you like analogies, I'm just going to toot my own horn here and say that it's one of the best analogies I've come up with and maybe my favorite post on the blog so far. 

Have you ever walked into a room and just felt that something was off, but maybe weren't sure what it was? It could be the mix of scale and proportion that we talked about last week or it could be what we're going to call balance. According to Interiors: An Introduction, balance is achieved through symmetrical balance, asymmetrical balance, and radial balance. We're going to focus this week on symmetrical and asymmetrical balance. To keep this post from getting too long, I thought it'd be better if it was broken up into two separate days, so you'll be getting two installments of our Back to Basics segment on the blog this week instead of one. We'll start with Symmetry



Symmetrical balance creates a mirror image by the placement of items that are exactly the same on both sides of a central point.

Interiors: An Introduction

So for example, in our master bedroom the bed and the canvas are the central points. The matching bookcases on either side of the bed and the matching lamps as well as the matching shams provide symmetrical balance to this space.

Achieving Balance in Your Rooms with Symmetry - Whitney Donáe

Also, the bookcases themselves match in their spacing of the shelves and by which shelves contain books and which contain the other decorative elements. They are the exact same on both sides.

Achieving Balance in Your Rooms with Symmetry
Achieving Balance in Your Rooms with Symmetry

(And just in case you're a crazy anal person like me, those bookcases are spaced perfectly between the walls and the windows. The canvas is centered exactly between the bookcases and the lamps are measured to the t between the canvas and the shelves. Let me tell you, my husband was having all sorts of romantic feelings for me when we were putting this room together. #Not #Goodthinghe'spatient.)

Pros of Symmetry

  • Symmetry makes a space feel grounded and centered giving a sense of stability.
  • It also lends itself to a more formal and refined air.

Cons of Symmetry

  • Because of all the matchy-matchy, samesies-samesies going on, it can come across as stale or boring or too formal. 
Achieving Balance in Your Rooms with Symmetry

Tips for Achieving Symmetry Successfully

The biggest tip to keep your space from becoming too formal and stale with symmetrical balance, even if you are going for a more formal design, is to mix it up with some asymmetrical elements. 

For instance the symmetry in our room is broken up with the black and white pillows on the bed as well as the mix of things on each of the bookcases.

Achieving Balance in Your Rooms with Symmetry

If everything was perfectly the same on either side of the bed and canvas, this room would be really boring, but mixing symmetrical with asymmetrical gives it that grounded feel that i like to have in a space while keeping things casual and relaxed. 

Achieving Balance in Your Rooms with Symmetry