Embracing Asymmetry: How to Create an Off-Kilter Space with Purpose

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Morgan Goldberg

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Published on September 29, 2021

We’re all for a highly curated space, but it is entirely possible for interior design to look too perfect. Yes, there is absolutely a time and place for a symmetrical layout, particularly for a more traditional vibe, and really, who doesn’t love a set of matching nightstands (rhetorical question). That said, symmetry can be the low hanging fruit of interior design. Mirroring a scene (ie matching chairs on either side of the sofa) can be an easy go-to, but sometimes, too much symmetry, mirroring everything, can be off-putting and even feel a bit impersonal. That’s why we implore you to consider asymmetry as a guiding principle in designing your home.

Learning to craft a balanced-yet-asymmetrical space is truly an art form — but it’s worth the challenge. Asymmetrical designs offer a warm, lived-in aesthetic full of unique, eye-catching moments that help you experience the place in its entirety. If you’re up to the task, we have a few designer-approved tips that will help you master asymmetrical balance in interior design in your own space, on your own terms.

Think About Visual Weight

asymmetrical layout

With an asymmetrical approach, you need to reject the literal, mirror-image equilibrium that comes with symmetrical design and seek out balance in more abstract terms instead. If you have an off-center fireplace, for example, you have more visual weight on one side of your room. That means you need to add solid, imposing furniture and statement decor on the opposite side of the room to even out the space overall. When both halves of a room display different items of the same visual weight, stability is achieved while still maintaining intrigue.

The same principle holds true for smaller vignettes as well. For example, consider an entryway scene. Create a sense of flow with a larger sculptural lamp on one side of the console, then anchoring the weight on the floor with a woven basket on the opposite side. A lovely little zig zag moment.

Consider Height

Asymmetry in interior design

Height should be varied in asymmetrical spaces. Each piece needs to make its own impact otherwise it runs the risk of feeling arbitrary and haphazard, so verticality cannot be uniform throughout. Furniture and decor items of different heights allow your eye to move from place to place in the room, keeping interest alive. Taller vignettes will inevitably steal focus, so strategically situate those where you want some extra emphasis.

Because a picture is worth a thousand words, take notes from the visual above. Two leather accent chairs sit on one side of the sectional, flanked by a fiddle leaf fig to draw the eye up. A commanding art piece sits above the sectional, creating more vertical interest. However, the other side of the room is left simple and low, allowing a statement lounge chair to command stage right.

Create Continuity Elsewhere

Asymmetrical interior design

With an asymmetrical floor plan contributing the funky factor, it’s important to remember to build visual continuity through other avenues. A cohesive color palette and a strategic combination of materials will instill a sense of belonging into the space. To keep the room from leaning too eclectic or too directionless, pair complementary colors and materials with an off-kilter layout to attain an overarching balance.

Take our example. Nothing mirrored in this layout, however, the pops of rust and gold speak to each other throughout the space, and velvet accents create a theme that runs throughout (the chair, the poufs, the pillow). Simply swoon.

Ready to design a space that’s purposefully off-kilter and beautifully on point? Our designers can help you get there, along with more pro tips. Take our style quiz and get started on your dream space.

Words by Morgan Goldberg