Matters of Scale

One of the more challenging things about design, particularly in this internet age, can be getting the scale and proportion just right in a space.  Floor plans and measurements can tell you a lot, but I always think it's better to be in a home to get a feel for the space.  I mean that literally: you need to be in a space to know what it is to move in them.  And then we do our best to make sure the dining chairs are big enough for the table, the pendants not overpowering to the chandelier, the sofa weighty enough to handle the club chairs, and so on and so forth.

Of course, as with so many rules, sometimes breaking them can make the most unexpected magic.  I love the use of this tiny settee and overscale painting in this Barry Dixon space, photographed for House Beautiful.

Technically, the mirror is "too big" or the settee is "too small," but the result is inspiring.  Here, just the really big mirror and little delicate settee would have created a dramatic effect, but I love the way Dixon pushed it with the tall floor vase, big basket, and small sconces, surrounding the bench and amplifying the effect.

After seeing this image, I found myself noticing this kind of play on scale all over the place, and loving the effects.  When you exaggerate scale, you start to play with the sense of reality, don't you think?  There's a little bit of an Alice in Wonderland quality, and the drama is worth the risk.

Small furniture and really big art:

 [Farrow and Cobb]

[Muriel Brandolini, via 10 Rooms]

Love the addition of those huge glass jugs here, too.

[Gubi Catalog, via The Zhush]

Dramatic fabric on huge windows dominate a pair of tiny but detailed settees

[Elle Decor]

And a pair of huge lamps on a sofa table elevate this chintz living room to a more artful place.


How about you: do you play with scale in your own home?