How to use “Scale” in your Home

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Not to be confused with proportion, scale looks at the size of something as it relates to another element of known size.

“: the size of a picture, plan, or model of a thing compared to the size of the thing itself
: the size or extent of something especially in comparison to something else”

— Scale. (n.d.). Retrieved January 1, 2016, from

Scale based on known objects

Since scale is based on the objects around them, we need to first understand how scale can affect a space.

Take, for instance, the view above. All we see are walls, a floor, a ceiling, and one window. Based on what we see, it can be hard to determine the size and scale of a space.

Let’s say we decide to add in a table to the room. Based on the size of the table in relation to the window, we can make the assumption that the space could actually be relatively large. Now, this is not to say that you should add lots of small pieces of furniture to a small room, but, you don’t want to overcrowd it with overly plush, large-scale items.

But, what if we took away the table and added in a person at a different scale. Does the room look smaller now? This is an example of when we start adding in objects that have a bit of a larger size in comparison to the space they are located in.


For the Home-hunter: Scale based on known objects can become a tricky situation when you are looking for a new home. The problem with many photographs you see when first searching online is that they are completely void of any personality; no furniture, no rugs, no lighting. It tends to become a bit of a downer when you meet with your realtor to visit this amazing location and find you’ve been duped because the rooms are, in reality, tiny!

For the Home-seller: It is helpful when you are selling your own home to stage a few items – at least for the photoshoot – to help make your home look larger. Make sure your potential buys know it is possible to fit their bed and still have space to move around.

For the everyday homeowner: Think about the size of the items going in your space. It is okay to have collages of picture frames on a wall but consider how big those photos are. Large furniture (like sectionals) aren’t a bad thing, you just have to consider what else is happening in that room to make it efficient.

Scale relationships

Scale can also play a role when we talk about window treatments. I know you have seen this one before, but, how does the placement of the curtains affect the size of the room now? What about the size of the window?

Probably the most popular way to hang window treatments is to have the rod just above the window frame, and offset from the sides a few inches.

There seems to be a trend of the long curtains that droop on the floor lately, so here is a slightly modified version of the image above, how does it change the scale of the room? How about the window?

Here is a good one to remember: increase the height of your curtains = perceiving the space to be taller.

What other scale tricks have you used to make your rooms look larger than they are?
What scale tricks are you using for very large rooms?
What are some scale issues you are having?