One of the most common stumbling blocks I see with clients is scale.  Scale, to me, is having the furnishings in proportion to the scale of the space they occupy.  Much of this, I suppose, is a subjective opinion, but I find it glaringly obvious when it’s “off”.  I usually see this when a client has too many small objects and not enough larger items to offset one another.

Most recently, I installed a series of bookcases where I had utilized both the clients art and their personal items. I also supplemented with larger objects I had brought in to compliment the space as their belonging looked to small. The blend was nice.
Believe me, an empty bookcase can be daunting, and a cluttered bookcase can be overwhelming.  With that said, collections, pairs, pops of color, and personal items can be your friend.  They can help create a sense of symmetry and balance.
When I am challenged while working on bookcases I fall back on these strategies:

  • Graduate books from outside to inside so other accessories are not overwhelmed
  • Group small items in relatable collections based on color or subject to gain more impact
  • Stack items such as books or boxes to build up the scale or to use as a base for smaller accessories
  • Split up pairs to create symmetry and balance when the bookcases are flanking another architectural feature like a fireplace


Photo credit: Thomas O’Brien/