“The Fitting Room” Scale, Proportion and Layers Seminar Notes

Basis of Scale for this space:

Room Dimensions:  22×24

Ceiling Height:  20′ Vaulted, 10′ Window Wall, 12′ Entry Wall

Fireplace:  Top of Mantle 5′

There is such a thing as a “Fitting Room” in design.  It just means that when you walk into a room it just seems to fit just right.   It’s a feeling you get that this space is well done,  put together, pleasing to the eye, beautiful, tastefully done.   All those adjectives can be used to describe a “Fitting Room” and it depends on a few simple rules in design that relate to Scale, Proportion and Layers.    As a fellow rebel, you may want to scratch the word ‘rules’ and call them tips.  Here are a few you can rely on to achieve a well put together space:

1.  Scale:   If  you will,  picture Lady Liberty and The Scales of Justice she holds in her hand,  with each side of the scale being in balance,  this is your room and as you add each piece of furniture you can easily tip the scale in the wrong direction by placing something too large or too small on either side of the level scale.      If your room is 10×12, the size of most secondary bedrooms, you will not want to put in that king size poster bed.   To summarize:    In order to consider scale you start with the dimensions of your room including ceiling height, entry ways and architectural elements such as windows, fireplace and built-ins.  These elements have already been considered by an architect if your home is existing.  (NOTE:  If you are building or remodeling of changing architectural features,  I HIGHLY RECOMMEND working with a proven decorator or designer along side your architect.

2.  Proportion:  The best way I can describe proportion is with the picture above.  There are four chairs and they can all be used  within the scale of that space.  However, the proportion of the chairs in front of the fireplace is smaller so that it compliments the larger scale of the  fireplace.  The larger chairs are to scale with an entry way, that you don’t see in the photo,  and in proportion to the larger conversation sofa which is much longer and deeper than a standard sofa.   Therefore, proportion of a piece is meant to compliment the scale of the room and the scale of  the main furniture.   Most of the time I just use Scale to describe the same thing as proportion.   The importance of proportion of a piece really comes into play after you have chosen the larger pieces  for a space and then begin to add the additional design layers.  This is when size or proportion to scale really does matter.

3.  Layers:  This is where the difference of opinion on how to approach a design project occurs.  If you speak with two equally qualified designers you will receive two different responses.    Here is my opinion on the layers of design and how they best work to achieve the ultimate goal of a “Fitting Room”:  1) begin with your inspiration piece, develop your color palette and style from this piece.  This leads to paint colors  and painting the space; 2)  Flooring or Rugs are next and should be a simultaneous selection when choosing your color palette and paint colors; 3)  Sofa, Bed or the main furniture pieces; 4)  Textiles or fabrics come after the big choices because there are literally hundreds of thousands of  textile options.   Fabrics are for the window treatments, pillows, upholstered pieces; 5) Accent furniture which are the non-upholstered pieces such as occasional tables; 6)  Accessories are the fun part for everyone and easiest way to change up a space and add character to make it fit your style; 7) Life and Lighting is what I like to call the last layer.  It includes lamps or ceiling fixtures and greenery in the form of  live plants or silk arrangements.

This has been a quick and simplified explanation of  achieving a proper and “Fitting Room”.   Together with, Jennifer Hermann, we presented a design seminar at Hermann Furniture on August 22nd with more details and visual examples of  Scale, Proportion and Layers.   I have  some others tips to share on how to overcome small spaces and using what you have or love even if the scale seems wrong in the space.

Thank you to everyone who attended “The Fitting Room” Design Seminar.

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