5 Proportion and Scale Dilemmas to Avoid

5 Proportion and Scale Dilemmas to Avoid

Ever step into a room filled with designer furniture, but something just doesn’t feel right? You can have amazing taste and décor with pizzazz, but if proportion and scale are not considered in the design, the room can feel as if it was put together haphazardly. Properly sizing items to the room—and to each other—is essential when considering your ultimate room design.

Why Are Proportion and Scale Important in Design?

Proportion and scale help make a room warm and inviting. When everything fits properly, the space feels comfortable. Using both proportion and scale in all aspects of design, including furniture, window treatments, and décor, helps to tie a look together. For example, a grand room with a picture window will likely need a window treatment reflective of the entire room, not just covering the window. These considerations keep things organized and draw your eyes to the right features. 

Proportion, defined

Proportion refers to how items relate to each other in the room. When figuring out if something is in proportion, consider whether the size of one object is appropriate when placed next to others. This might be something like a massive television situated on a small console, where the edges of the television exceed the length of the console. They are out of proportion. 

Scale, defined

Scale refers to how an item relates to the overall size of the room. You don’t want furniture that is too big for a small space, and vice versa. This can lead to a room that feels cluttered or sparse, respectively. 

5 Proportion and Scale Mistakes to Avoid in Your Space 

Here are five common proportion and scale mistakes you can avoid with a little planning and design consideration.


The problem: The plush, oversized sofa is crammed into a small living room, making it impossible to include other seating or tables. 

The solution: Choose a sofa that fills the room with space remaining. You want to be able to navigate around the sofa with ease, accessing end tables and a coffee table or entertainment console. 


The problem: A framed piece of artwork is displayed in the center of a large wall. However, it is the only thing hanging on any of the walls in a large, open floor plan space, and it feels dwarfed by the rest of the room.

The solution: Add more pictures to the wall, or reframe the existing piece within a bigger frame so it doesn’t get overpowered by the sheer scale of the wall. 


The problem: Most of us choose a rug that is too small for our space, making the furniture seem cluttered around it.

The solution: Select a rug that unifies the space by anchoring key furniture. The rug should complement the furniture in a way that feels spacious yet cozy and allows for mobility. Rugs should also fit the shape of the room: Get a rectangle rug (not square) to fit a rectangular room. 


The problem: A light fixture over the dining room table looks to be bigger than the table. This makes the space feel crowded, or worse, dangerous. 

The solution: Choose a chandelier that is one-half to three-quarters of the size of your dining room table, so that it appears to fit comfortably within the table’s borders. 


The problem: Big geometric patterns in a small room can make the room feel even smaller. Patterns may be on furniture, wall coverings, pillows, or rugs.

The solution: Keep patterns to scale by using smaller prints in smaller areas, and in some cases, minimize your use of patterns. Every room needs white space for the eyes to focus and rest. Smaller spaces benefit from keeping extra visuals to a minimum.

Bottom Line

When a room just doesn’t feel right in spite of having beautiful and well-crafted furniture, chances are you’ve missed the mark on proportion and scale. Need help with your room design? Brook is here with our professional design services to help you nail the look and feel of your rooms, with proper proportion and scale the first time around.

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