Finding right balance for your home

By Terry Lobb

We all need balance in our lives and in our homes. One person's opinion of balance will be different to another depending on our personality and the way we live our lives. I need a creative outlet and colour to balance out the admin side of my work but I also need to take time out with friends and family to laugh and dance. Sounds like it is all play and no work.

Different personalities require more structure in their lives. Some prefer order, with everything in its place while other people need a more relaxed workplace or lifestyle. I always find it amazing how you can have so many different personalities in one family. We all live, play and work differently and have different wants and needs.

I have two lovely sisters and when we were growing up they shared a bedroom. One sister was as neat as a pin, her bed was always made, the dressing table dusted, the doily ironed and straightened, with trinkets just so. Clothes were hung in the wardrobe rather than laid in chaos on the floor (this was in our teenage years).

My other sister was not quite so structured and preferred a more relaxed feel to the bedroom. She was much younger than us so perhaps that accounted for it.

The bedroom furniture was arranged symmetrical as bedrooms often are, with beds against the wall, the dressing table shared in the middle which doubled as bedsides tables. The wardrobe spanned the end wall with a hidden room beyond which was my room. I used to pop through the wardrobe to my room, such a cool concept for a kid!

So what do you do when you have different personalities sharing a room? You mark a dividing line with tape down the dressing table and across the floor and declare "this is my side of the room you need to keep your stuff on your side of the line". It all had good intentions and may have worked but you had to pass through the chaos to get to the neat side and if the neat side is making the rules and only has a window to exit the room it rather backfires. It was very funny for those of us that didn't share the room.

Furniture placement is very important and some rooms lend themselves to more structure than others. Symmetrical design is more formal and many of us have aspects of this layout in our homes whether we prefer a more formal look or not. It is where everything is balanced - a mirror image. Typically it is our dining room table setting or often our bedrooms with matching bedside tables and lamps or a seating area around a fireplace. It is structured, formal, orderly and classic and, depending on how you achieve this look, isn't always as inviting.

Asymmetrical balance is less formal. It can be very similar to a symmetrical balance in a seating arrangement but instead of having two three-seater sofas opposite each other you mix it up a bit with perhaps a two-seater and a chair or a couple of chairs and occasional table. The area becomes more relaxed and inviting to sit and chat.

My house lends itself to a more relaxed lifestyle. It is built on five different levels with the main living area one room wide. The house faces north and is built around a private deck to the back of the house. Because of the window and door structure of the house it would be very difficult to place furniture symmetrically but then my lifestyle doesn't suit that style of dressing rooms.

An even more relaxed setting is radial balance. We are often hard pushed to find radial balance in our newer homes but some years ago radial balance was introduced with curved walls and spiral staircases as more structural design. It's not always practical getting a queen bed up a spiral staircase or trying to arrange straight furniture on a curved wall but it gives a lovely relaxed feeling to a home. It gives a sense of warmth and relaxation but is mainly found in light fittings and sometimes, dining tables.

Often we overload our rooms with furniture and bits and pieces, sometimes treasured pieces that have been handed down. It is often hard to take a step back and objectively look at where our treasures need to go to make a room successful and some rooms are very difficult to arrange furniture in because of the design. I have often been called in to "de-clutter" a home for sale. This often requires rearranging furniture, accessories and art so that it is more presentable for a prospective buyer.

A house needs to be presented differently for sale from the way we live in it. The balance changes from being a family home that is lived in to a purchaser looking at the spaces and whether their furniture will fit within those spaces. Think about how you like to live and what style suits you. You may be orderly at work but require a more relaxed feel at home to keep the balance in your life.

I am exhibiting at the Home and Lifestyle Show this weekend in Wanganui, so if you want to come down and have a chat or a look and put your name down for my prize draw, I'm on stand 78 right next to Tracey Grant Photography. Pop down and say hello and introduce yourself.

If you have any questions about issues discussed or product supply give me a call on 0276023298 or drop me a line on (website under construction)

- Wanganui Chronicle

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