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Heather Scott Home & Design is an award-winning interior design firm and sophisticated boutique based in Austin, TX and Scottsdale, AZ. Our blog shares the tasteful home accessories, furnishings and gifts that you can find in our retail boutique. We also feature our design projects, industry trends and expert tips that hope to inspire homeowners to create the stylish & chic home of their dreams.

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Scale and Proportion and How To Use Them In Your Space
November 23, 2012 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

I am excited to have Amanda Pallotta, one of the Heather Scott Home & Design “team members”, guest posting on the blog today.  Amanda received her degree in Interior Design just a few years ago and has been a great help at the store.  Amanda is very talented, as you can see from this great kitchen she designed before she came to work with us:

Hall Kitchen

One of the issues Amanda comes across everyday is dealing with customers who struggle to fill their homes with items of the right scale and proportion.  She is here to offer some basic tips on how to overcome this issue:

1) Scale refers to how an item relates to the size of the room or to something else. For example, a large tall wooden canopy bed with a petite glass night table would not be the right scale for the room.

Guest Room

Design by Heather Scott Home & Design

In this photo, the scale of the large headboard is balanced by a wide nightstand (about 34”w) and a large lamp.

2) Proportion refers to the shape of an item and how it relates to other things in the room. For example, A square dining table with a rectangular shaped rug underneath would not look right because it is not the correct proportion for the table.

McQueen Dining Room

Design by Heather Scott Home & Design

In this small dining room, which was very traditional and historical in nature, it was important to keep the proportions of the table, rug and chandelier aligned.

In contrast, proportion can also be used for impact, such as in this room below, which did not have any architectural feature, interest was added by using a large scale light fixture.

Breakfast Room

Design by Heather Scott Home & Design

Take a walk around your home and examine each space. If something doesn’t feel correct or comfortable it is probably because the scale or proportions are off. First, try to edit the clutter, check the proportion of the items in the room and when in doubt, take a picture of the space!  The eye has a much easier time discerning what is off in a picture rather than when you’re physically in a space. Try rearranging, removing or replacing items until you achieve the look for you home that you desire.

Easy tips to consider:

· A larger room can handle furnishings and decor that are larger in scale. And vice versa. The smaller room is, the more petite or delicate the furnishings and decor should be.

· The main furnishing item in the room sets the stage for the scale of all the other furnishings. For example, an oversized sofa and a petite side table may look awkward next to each other. However, you do not want to over stuff the room with all large scale furniture.

· The higher the ceiling, the taller and more imposing the furnishings pieces can be. Low ceilings beg for low furniture and decor. The one exception to this rule is using low, modern furnishings in a room with tall ceilings to achieve a dramatic effect.

· Remember to leave “white space” in a room. This is the space around and above furniture. A room rarely looks good when every square inch of it is filled. The eye needs room to rest in a space, so provide it by leaving some surfaces uncovered and some walls alone.

· If the room is small, keep patterns to scale. Use smaller prints and less of them. A larger room can typically handle larger prints and more colors. If you have a small room but prefer a larger print, make sure it has a lot of white space in it and use it sparingly.

· Use repetitive patterns or colors. For example, if you have square-shaped wainscoting panels on your wall, choose a square coffee table and a square piece of to maintain the same proportions throughout the room. Just be careful not to overdo it.

In case you are a visual person, here are a few more photo examples:


Lamps are any easy element in a room to get wrong.  But, they are so important to get right.  Lamps really should not be shorter than about 28”-30”h.

One other tip, even if you are decorating a child or teen’s room, don’t buy ‘child size’ lamps from kids’ stores.  They are too small.  Just buy a regular sized lamp and add some cute ribbon trim to the shade or find another way to make it more youthful.

Now that I have spoken about what not to do let’s have a little fun with scale and proportion! This is where you can take chances and make that designer mark.

This gorgeous chandelier in this living area calls out to the large mirror and portrait while adding an unexpected look to the space. Because this room is large and has higher ceilings, a large scale light fixture is a must!


The oversized mirror in this room adds an outstanding elegance to the space.


Vincente Wolf

Finally, one of my favorite pieces to play with when taking scale and proportion into consideration! Paintings! Everyone has that one conversation piece they just fall in love with.

Here is an example of a space where a large painting was used to create a focal point rather than a gallery of smaller photographs or paintings. If you can imagine, you can see how the impact would not be as great!


Robert Brown Interior Design


Source: Elle Decor

I hope you’ve learned at least a few tips related to using scale and proportion in your home.  Last tip- when it doubt, it is better to go too big for accent pieces (lamps, art, rugs, vases) than too small.  Hope you have a great holiday weekend.