Friday, March 5, 2010

Nashville's designer ~ Scale and Proportion-Does it matter?

In the design community you will typically here us throw around very snazzy words such as SCALE and PROPORTION. Being a designer is a very big responsibility and we find that putting a strong vernacular to our talents makes us appear methodical, cautious and NORMAL. You see, we are DESIGNERS, (mythical creative creatures of imaginary folklore!) that tangle themselves in IMPORTANT tasks, and enlist themselves in crazy ideas as if it were a timeshare of decorating enterprise! We have enthusiastic imaginations that intimidates ordinary folks, but as long as you keep us focused and keep us away from the candy and vodka, our aptitude in resourcefulness can be quite genius!

So what the heck do these decorative words of garnish mean? Scale, as you will often here us say, is not a word to be taken lightly. Oh No! It is one of THE most important and FANCY tools a designer has in their back pocket. (next to the skittles, and melted abba zaba bar. YUM!)

So what is it? (it is a delightful and yummy taffy with peanut butter filling and.....OH! you were referring to the topic of scale, of course, ..FOCUS)

Scale and proportion are in comparative relation to a WHOLE. It is the relationship of one thing to another.

Scale is an interiors biggest arsenal. The KEY ingrediant to what makes a space work, or fall flat on it's butt! Here are some examples:

Pic 1
Here you can see a great example of poor scale. This is a beautiful room with great color, however the rug and lamps are lacking severely in scale. They are too small for the room. To make matters worse these items are paired against a large sofa. I don't know about you, but I could see myself TRIPPING a thousand times on that rug and holding the lamp in the air while I tried to drink out of my sippy cup, I mean read an important novel. This room has potential and could easily be fixed, but as shown, gets a grade F, from AB HOME.

Pic 2.
Another great room at first glance, however the sofa is a bit short for the high ceilings, and the beautiful egg chair is dwarfing it; especially by putting it in Black, a strong bold choice, compared to the rest of the room. This room looks unbalanced to me, (hey whats in this sippy cup anyways?) 

Pic 3.
This room is lacking a lot. It definitely needs a designers touch! This is a great example of single width draperies gone wrong! They have installed the rods on the trim ( no, no, no) and the panels are too skinny (GO BIG or GO HOME) for the size of the room and furniture. The sofas are large and over stuffed so to pair them with wimpy draperies is incorrect scale and proportion. This room has potential, but also fails by AB HOME standards (it's the GOLD standard of opinions that matter!).

Pic 4.
This room gets a C-. Overall I think the design concept is strong. The mirror helps expand the space and the sofa and side table mix well together. Where this room falls off the train (hehe, I crack myself up) is the train car coffee table. It is WAY too low to the ground. This sucker will bite you in the shin right where it H-U-R-T-S! To have something this low, with pointy glass corners, ALL WRONG, and screams ouchy! 

Phew! That was rough. So now you have been lectured 4 ways to Sunday on what NOT TO do. Here are a few examples of spaces that got it right, and show what 
TO do:

Vicente Wolfe
Simple four poster bed brings the eye up and high lights the high ceiling. The draperies are proportionate to the room size and interiors (remember pic #3?). The wing back chair has a generous height, and the texture of fabrics, wood and stone mix well to create an ascetically pleasing room. Your eye gracefully bounces around the room with effortlessness (notice the louis XV headboard mixed with streamlined four poster bed. Genius!) 

The Ludlow
Keeping the wall color a soft white allows the beige sofa to coordinate nicely with the white leather chairs, and beige rug. The clear glass table tricks the eye in thinking there is more space and makes it feel more open. The pictures elongate the room and over all the interior is soft and easy to read. (also notice that the chairs and sofa are similar in height.)

This is a good alternative to Pic number 4 above. This table is very similar but the scale and proportion are correct for the room. This would be easy to set a drink on, and if you happen to bump into it the knee won't cry nearly as much as the shin. Although if you hit a bright yellow table you may want to get glasses, and put down the sippy cup! Pic courtesy of country living.

Everything about this room is balanced and perfect. The draperies are the correct widths, the chairs and sofa are an excellent size for the ceiling height and the fireplace and armoire balance the left and right side of the room. Just Beautiful.

Those last four pictures are superb examples of excellent scale and proportion. The rooms are easy on the eyes, easy to read, and they don't feel "off". The Vicente Wolfe photo and the Country living photo are great examples of  drapery widths in proportion to the other items in the room (especially compared to Pic 3.) Magnificent! Want to explode your brain on the mathematical elements of proportion and symmetry? Read this book (shown above). There is a reason why things feel "off" if Scale is out of proportion 
(a mathematical mad scientist reason!!!)

In the Pink is a beautiful collection of Dorthy Draper projects. One of the most iconic figures of the 20th century,  Dorthy Draper was a HUGE advocate of scale and ALWAYS used it in her commercial interiors. She hated and almost refused to work on residential projects because she not only wanted FULL control of her projects but she wanted things larger than life! Bravo! The BEST part, she didn't start her momentous career until she was 40! With no education and three children she set out to change the world, and we are still talking about her 30 years after her death! A true mythical, creative creature, of imaginary folklore!

You will notice I have added a sidebar of my Top Twenty Interior design books from Amazon! These books will inspire, teach, and recommend some of the best solutions to all your interior design quandaries and help you crusade through one of the BEST industries on the planet!

Check out our store at, AB HOME!
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And don't forget to follow us on twitter!

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  1. I am glad to find this blog, I hope you can visit my blog too ..

  2. wow! Great advice. The curtain rods mounted on the molding hurt my eyes haha

  3. haha, they hurt my eyes too Roxy. Amanda, why you gotta put my pic on your blog like that ?!
    Great suggestions and examples.

  4. Right, Tammy?!
    p.s. You are hilarious. I love that your sense of humor comes through while giving fabulous design advice.

  5. Ha! That picture is too much, but I have to agree with you {you corner martini sipping designer, you!}. I do a class at the Adult Ed at our high school in the Spring and Fall and one of the classes I did last year was "Top 10 decorating mistakes". Guess what was one of the "top 10". The one that gets me the most is the picture you show with the too small lamps.

  6. Okay, I am guilty of not full enough drapes. :( Here is what it looks like now:

    My living room will look 1000 times better if I get more. I'm going to ebay right now. So expensive though! Thanks for showing me the error of my ways! :)

    Susan @

  7. What a great post! I have been telling my hubby that the furniture just doesn't look right in our small living room, and now I know that the furniture isn't to scale.

    Oh, I used to love Abba-Zabba's! Thanks for reminding me of this childhood favorite. :D

  8. You have such miraculous taste and I really appreciate your perspective! Thanks for sharing - I am going to follow you on twitter now! Happy weekend :)

  9. P.S. The room from Country Living? MY ABSOLUTE FAVE!!

  10. Hmmm, we can't have drapes in the goat house.
    Abby will eat them.
    Stupid Abby!
    I am a classy goat.

  11. Oh my! That was a really funny introduction. Great post. Thanks so much for the nicey you left on my blog!

  12. Im no math major, but I know when scale and proportions are off. This is a great tool. Thanks so much!

    Mr. Goodwill Hunting

  13. This info is so helpful! Thanks for sharing!


  14. The first pic almost scared me away ;), glad I stuck around though, great images to really drive the points home, and I adore Dorothy Draper!

  15. The drapes in the bedroom are just incredible!

  16. When you're talking scale, that first pic certainly tips the scales! ;)

    I couldn't agree more though about how important scale is to a room! Thanks for the great examples and advice!

    Kat :)

  17. I completely enjoyed reading everything you wrote about. One of the first designer blogs that has truly made some sense to me with the writing. I'm very happy that you stopped by my blog for a visit allowing me in turn to find you.

  18. G'Day~Great Blog and thanks for all the great info.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog to say Hello!

    I am now off to check out your Store~Kim

  19. Okay, well, that first pic is definitely an attention grabber!

    I agree, it doesn't what you have if it isn't put together just so. I fancy myself a mantle reorganizer, as I'm always going into my friends houses and re-doing their mantles as the scale and symmetry of the objects on them is all wrong.

    Good post, and thanks so much for the visit!


  20. The 1st pic made me laugh and cringe! Well done post!!! And in my book VW can do no wrong. I love that you share my "jar love"!

  21. thanks for stopping by! i love your blog. i can learn a whole lot from you! don't get mad, but all those rooms looked good to me! ; ) which is why i need to read your blog!!! i'm your newest follower. happy saturday.

  22. hey girl, where did you get that picture of my sister???? love the yellow metal table, can't imagine putting holes in trim for rods, ye gods!

  23. Good points! Thanks for your visit and comment. Have a great weekend.

  24. Wow! What a fabulous post! I'm so glad to have found your blog. Not quite sure how you found my silly little family blog, but I'm sure happy you did!!! :) Thanks for the comment. Off to "follow" you...

  25. You had me at the first one :) can't wait to meet you missy!

  26. I like your approach with the post--the humor in the photos kept me interested.

  27. Thanks for your visit! I really enjoyed this post. I think I do okay with scale of furniture etc., but I already know that I fail at drapery. This really convinced me that I need to work on that skill!


  28. Such an important element and one most people don't get. Great post! Marija

  29. glad you stopped by my blog because i just found a good one!

    Great post!

  30. fantastic tutorial on design and scale. great great! you're so right about everything and the way explained flows quite well.

  31. I always learn so much when i visit your blog. I just HAVE to comment about the first pictures. I guess all I have to say that chick ever needed to go boating, she's got built in floatation devices. There. I said it. I hang my head in shame :)

  32. that picture is a hoot!! Great post!

  33. Great post, that tiny carpet is terrible. Which is a shame because it's so gorgeous!

  34. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! So refreshing to learn about design techniques! Your examples of what worked and what didn't work are so enlightening!! I'm off to get both of these books! I never knew Dorthy started her career at 40 - amazing!!

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