We’ve all heard of the golden ratio. Most likely, it’s filed away with all the rest of your memories from your college art class or you read about in passing when perusing an article in the newspaper a couple of weeks ago. But, did you know that the golden ratio also plays a role in what we perceive as “good” interior design?
Before we start, here’s a little refresher: The Golden Ratio is a mathematical sequence that has been found to occur over and over again in nature. This ratio – 1:1.61, to be exact – has been found to account for everything from the proportions of the human body, to the formation of musical sequences, and architectural formulas dating back to the ancient Greeks and Romans.
Though it has diverse applications, most people believe that the use of this ratio makes things appear more aesthetically pleasing to others. The majority of interior designers are taught to use it in their designs and you should too. Read below to find out why:
Your Furniture Placement Will Be Balanced
Anyone who has ever brought a new couch home knows how difficult furniture placement can be. First, you’re sure that it will look great in one spot, but when you put it there something is not quite right. Before you know it, you’ve moved that same couch around your living room several times, only to have it end up back where you started!
Next time, avoid all the hassle by taking the room’s proportions into account beforehand. While it’s never a bad idea to take measurements, if you don’t feel like taking the tape measure out, keep a ratio of 2:3 in mind when you’re arranging the space.
To start, visually divide up the space into two sections – a larger one that takes up two thirds of the space and houses the furniture that defines the main use for the room and the final third, which accounts for a secondary function like a separate seating area or storage. Also choose pieces that are sized close to that 2:3 measurement. Aim for a couch that is approximately 2:3 the length of the seating area as a whole and a coffee table that is close to 2:3 the length of the couch.
Choosing Colors Will Be A Snap
If you’ve been a reader on Freshome for a while, odds are you’ve heard about the 10-30-60 Rule when it comes to choosing a color palette. What you may not know, however, is that those calculations aren’t arbitrary. They’re based off the ratio of 1:1.618.
For those who aren’t aware, the 10-30-60 Rule talks states that a well-designed space should consist of three colors. First, a dominant color, which should cover around 60% of the space and is usually used in areas like walls and flooring. This should be followed by a secondary color, which takes up 30% of the space and is usually used for furniture. Finally, a bolder accent color should take up the final 10% and is used in smaller décor items.
The 10-30-60 Rule is not all that the ratio has to offer in terms of color. New research has found that colors separated by a ratio of 1:1.61 on the light spectrum are often found to be aesthetically pleasing together. As of right now, programs like PhiBar, which measure that ratio, are still working to gain true commercial success. But, in the future, choosing your color palette itself could be much easier.
Hanging Decor Will Take No Time At All
Once you’ve got your furniture in place and your colors picked out, it’s time to move on to what is seemingly the simplest element of design, but can often be the most challenging. That’s right, where to hang your décor items. Before you put a ton of unnecessary nail holes in the walls, consider the Rule of Thirds.
After you’ve picked the wall on which to place your artwork, take a second to mentally picture that wall as a grid that’s been overlaid with two lines dividing it into equal thirds horizontally and vertically. You should be picturing a grid with nine equal-sized squares. Choose the middle of the center square as the focal point. Then, make sure that there are secondary points of interest intersecting each of the four corners of the center square.
A lot of gallery wall designs are made with this arrangement in mind. It works particularly well because you can choose various sizes and depths of artwork to create differentiation on the points of interest. However, the same philosophy can also be applied to a single larger painting.
You Can Make Adjustments Easily
Here’s the cold, hard truth of it: Even though it’s important to take the ratio into account when decorating, it may not work perfectly 100% of the time. We have a few suggestions to get you through those situations:
A lot of the examples we gave work under presumption that the rooms were rectangular. You may have to make a few adjustments to fit your space. Decorating a tiny apartment may mean finding your own ratio. As a rule of thumb, you can find a close ratio by measuring the length of room and dividing it by 1.5. Use that number as a measurement when searching for rugs, furniture, etc that have compatible proportions instead of the width of the room itself.
At the end of the day, the golden ratio should serve as a guide. You shouldn’t be drawing up scale models of the rooms in your home to get the ratio exact. Instead, use it as a guide, but trust your instincts and sense of style.
If you have a fireplace that sits directly in the center of your living room, by all means make it a focal point. If you know in your heart that a fourth color is needed to make the design in your bedroom really pop, go for it! Remember, that you are the one who needs to enjoy your living space. Feel free to indulge your personality.
When you think about it, the golden ratio really is amazing. Who would have thought that the same seemingly random configuration would pop up in the spirals of seashells, the shape of our galaxy, and the formations of storm clouds? With all that natural evidence, it’s hard to argue against using the same proportions in your interior design. On the off chance you know someone who needs a little more convincing, use the article above. Maybe even go a step further and prove it with your décor. We bet you’ll have them convinced at first glance.
Do you believe in the golden ratio? If so, how have you used it in your interiors? If not, do you use another method instead?