Have you ever decided to buy a new piece of furniture, measured your space, picked out something that fit within those measurements, got it home, and thought, “Wow, this seems a lot bigger than it did in the store!”?

So what went wrong?

In decorating, the size of an individual object tends to be less important than scale, or its size relative to the other things around it.  Think about most furniture stores for a moment.  They tend to be large, wide open spaces with very high ceilings.  Even the largest piece of furniture doesn’t seem all that big in this kind of space.  Now put that same large piece in a twelve by twelve room with an eight foot ceiling, and it suddenly seems bigger than its actual size.

Understanding scale is important to creating rooms that feel balanced and pleasing to the eye.  The size of each piece of furniture should make sense compared to the size of the room itself, as well as to all the other pieces of furniture in the room.

A small accent chair will look odd sitting next to an over-sized sofa, but put that same chair next to a smaller scale, tailored loveseat and it will suddenly make sense.

The same concept is true for accessories and art.  A small picture will look even smaller hanging above a large fireplace, and a lone candle will get lost in the middle of a large coffee table.  Another important concept to consider along with size and scale is visual weight.

Two objects with the exact same physical dimensions can have totally different visual weights and will appear to take up a different amount of space in a room.  For example a glass table has less visual weight than a dark wood table of the same size.

So next time you go shopping with your measurements in hand, don’t forget to think about the importance of scale and visual weight to ensure you end up with a balanced room design you can really enjoy.