We have lots of clients with an excellent eye for design. We see them in our stores over and over putting together their homes’ interiors. They often understand what color scheme they like, what particular pieces they like, and what layout they want for the traffic flow in their homes.

But the thing they most often miss, even these battle-hardened home decorators, is scale and proportion. If the scale and proportion are not right for the space, the room falls flat, or just simply does not work. We see so many people struggling over a room they have put together when they are missing these two important concepts.

Scale is the relationship of how an element fits into a space relative to the size of the room or in relation to something else in the room. Proportion is how the element relates to other things in the space.


A room that just has the right “feel” always reflects good choices in the sizes of its elements. And, quite often the problem is not that furnishings are too BIG, but rather that they are too small. People tend to be afraid of getting something too big for a room, so they often err on the side of buying something small. And, that can be just as big a mistake for a room’s design.

Some things to consider in choosing scale and proportion for a room:

A bigger room can accept larger pieces.  That makes sense, but it is not always followed.  And, you can break that rule if done correctly.  Notice below how these oversized oyster chandeliers create a focal point in this dining space.


The main furnishing item, or architectural element in the room, sets the scale for all other elements in the room.  A large sofa with an undersized cocktail table does not work well.

The higher the ceiling the larger the pieces can be.  A sofa with a back too low in a 12-foot tall room can look awkward.   You can use under-scaled furniture or over-scaled furniture for a special effect but it must be balanced correctly.

Leave some areas untouched—a wall without pictures, a corner without a chair—so the eye has some place to rest.  A room that is jammed full of furniture and accessories is a tiring place to spend time.

Mix different size patterns in your fabrics in a room.  A room is not busy because of several patterns being used if they vary in size.  Mix a medium scale print with a small stripe and a large-scale plaid.  Just keep all patterns different in size.  (We will give you more detail on how to do this in our next post!)