Symmetry: a pattern for design?

I had an on-going battle with my youngest son when he was about preschool age.

He was constantly grouping all the cushions that had matching patterns or colours and placing them together on similarly matching couches or chairs.

I, increasingly frustrated by the unknown culprit, would go around breaking up the design clichés to reinstate some theme throughout the house.

Although this war of attrition speaks to my son’s logical manner, which has served him well as an adult, ‘matching stuff in bunches’ in design doesn’t really work.

What not to do…


  1. When arranging furniture and accessories, avoid formulaic patterns. Too much symmetry can make a room look 'up tight' and old fashioned. 

  2. Try to 'break up' formula and symmetry by using chairs with different fabrics or shapes.

  3. When arranging furniture and accessories avoid perfect symmetry e.g.: a couch, a pair of side tables, a pair of lamps and artwork smack-bang in the middle.

What to do…

It is almost impossible to avoid the use of symmetry so there are some things you can do to create options and variety for your design.

  1. Try to break up the symmetry by using unmatched side tables or chairs that are different in height and shape or even different fabrics. 

  2. Try to achieve balance by varying shapes, heights, sizes and pairs. Good proportion provides stability - it also emits a natural elegance and dignity.