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November 4, 2011 > Real Rooms For Real People

Real Rooms For Real People

Listen to Goldilocks - furnishings should be "just right"

Goldilocks was right-- there is such a thing as "just right." Have you ever walked into someone's living room and noticed that the furniture is just too big for the room? This is an error of scale. It can happen quite easily, and I see it frequently when I look at homes. It happens because people don't take measurements before they go shopping. It happens because they decide to buy the entire living room suite of furniture, and then use it anyway, even after they realize it is just too big. It happens because people don't realize that furniture looks properly scaled in those large furniture showrooms, but is, in fact, too large for their own home.

It is also possible to undersize furniture and accessories. I see this problem as well, especially when people buy large new homes with high ceilings and big rooms. All of a sudden, the furniture and accessories that filled their old living room get lost in the large new space.

Scale refers to the relationship of sizes between objects. Objects that are too big or that overpower a space, or are too small and get lost in the space are said to be out of scale. For example, a delicate chair placed next to a bulky leather recliner will be out of scale. Similarly, a lamp with a large, heavy base will be out of scale if it is placed on a small end table.

Some common errors of scale that I see are:

Furniture that is simply too large for the room. Take measurements of the room before you shop. Be aware that certain styles appear larger than others: a sofa with heavy rolled arms and a high back will appear larger in your room than a sofa with a lower back and simple arms, even when they are the same size. Also, please resist buying more furniture than will fit in the room, even if it is a great deal.

Small pieces of artwork floating high on large walls. To remedy this problem, select artwork that fits the wall size and shape. Large walls need large art arrangements; small walls need smaller pieces. If the artwork is too small, try it in a grouping with other pieces or move it to a smaller wall. Also, hang the artwork lower and closer to the furniture, always relating it to the furnishings around it.

Small accessories on large mantels. If you have a large-scale fireplace and mantel, your accessories should be large as well. Small items will get lost on the shelf and make no impact. Try tall and wide ceramic vases or chunky candleholders instead of tiny knick-knacks. To add height you can use a stack of books or a decorative box. If you have a large-scale piece of art hanging above the mantel, you may not need any accessories at all-- you can let the art speak for itself.

What would Goldilocks say if she came to your house?

Anna Jacoby of Anna Jacoby Interiors is a local Interior Designer. Send your design questions to her at info@annajacobyinteriors.com. Call or fax her at 510-490-0379 or visit www.annajacobyinteriors.com

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