If your 6-year-old self sits on one end of the teeter-totter and your hulking 12-year-old cousin gets on the other end, chances are you will be airborne in no time. When he pushes off, your skinny little butt will take the brunt of this out-of-balance situation quite quickly.

I use this visual to get my clients understanding how balance works.  Rooms can be out of balance; the visual result of an out-of-balance furniture plan can be that one part of the room is seemingly airborne, with not enough “weight” to counter the other side where all the big stuff is crammed in together.


A pleasing balance occurs when all the sections of a room appear equal in visual weight. Sections are defined by dividing the room into four equal quadrants. Let me rephrase that. Divide the space into four equal quadrants. If you are working on an L-shaped living/dining room, for example, you have two spaces of four equal quadrants.

Balance means the furniture seems evenly distributed. Note I said,” seems.” The furniture is placed with consideration to what is the offset — or opposite — of the piece, and by considering the visual weight that color, pattern, texture and size impart.

balanced quadrants

Some examples of out of balance:

-The sofa and loveseat sit against adjacent walls, the other walls are bare.

-The door swing blocks access to part of the kitchen table.

-The bed sits off-center on the bedroom wall, with the main chest of drawers centered on the opposing wall.

Some examples of balance:

In a living room the sofa faces the fireplace; the two balance each other.

One corner of a bedroom is filled with a large plant; the opposing corner has a chair and lamp.

Two occasional chairs, one upholstered in a light-colored neutral, the other in a dark abstract print. The visual weight of the light-colored chair is increased with the addition of a contrasting cushion.

Out of balance happens frequently when the furniture is either too large or too small for the space, or placement is limited by the size of the pieces, or there is too much, or too little, furniture in a room.

balance before

This is another example of how important a floor-plan is to successful decorating. It will identify out of balance situations immediately, and show how to correct the problem.

balance fixed

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