Have you ever walked into a room that just felt awkward? If so, you may have come upon a room that was suffering from the “bad-balance blues.”

I recently encountered just such a space when working with my clients, Jesse and Anne. The moment I walked into their living room, I knew the room was unbalanced. Everything seemed to “happen” on one side of the room, making it feel heavy and off-kilter.

The couple wanted the living room to be the social hub of the house, but didn’t know how to make it happen. I knew that by employing the principle of balance, I could transform their uncomfortable room into a truly elegant space.


When designing a room, two forms of balance are key: symmetrical balance and asymmetrical balance.

Symmetrical balance is achieved when similar items are placed on opposite sides of an invisible line (such as putting matching side tables on either side of a sofa). Asymmetrical balance is created when different elements like colors, shapes and sizes are used to create equilibrium (for example, placing a side table on one side of a sofa and a floor lamp on the other). If you only employ symmetrical balance, a room will seem stiff and formal. By adding asymmetrical balance, you create more interest and energy.

With these principles in mind, I kicked off my redesign.

To help the room get its groove back, I got rid of all of the existing furnishings, painted the walls a light gray and started from scratch.


One of the walls contained a century-old wood-and-stone fireplace. To update it, I removed the mantel and had it painted white, clad the front in a carrera marble hexagon tile and replaced the dated hearth tile with black slate porcelain tile. For above the fireplace, I chose a recessed, wood-framed mirror that houses a hidden television. Then, to create symmetrical balance, I flanked the fireplace with white cabinetry and black walnut shelves, and placed a beautiful ink-blue lounge chair in front of each shelving unit.

Opposite the fireplace, I created an accent wall that kicks up the composition with color and shape. I painted the wall black to pick up on the color of the slate. I then positioned two gorgeous crystal sconces that flank an asymmetrical grouping of framed photos. In front of this wall I set an ash-colored sectional sofa and a little raw oak side table, finishing the ensemble with a lovely white lacquered coffee table.

A large window comprised most of the third wall of the room. Here, to offset the solid-colored fabric on the furnishings, I hung patterned drapes in a muted gold and brought in a large area rug that picks up on the colors of the drapes.

Lastly, to help further balance the space, I created a small sitting area along the half-wall opposite the windows by using one of the lounge chairs, a little table and a beautiful little crystal chandelier hanging above it. Flanking the chandelier are two matching pieces of art, a diptych, that help create a lovely composition along the wall. This area now counterbalances the weight of the sectional in the opposite corner.


This once-awkward room is now finally on the level. By employing the principle of design balance, I created a room that will be a social hub for Jesse and Anne while keeping them in happy symmetry for years to come.

Interior decorator Candice Olson is host of HGTV’s ‘’Candice Tells All.” For more ideas, information and show times, visit www.hgtv.com/candice-tells-all/show/index.html.