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Symmetry vs. Asymmetry in Interior Decorating

Does it bother you a little (or A LOT) when you notice that someone’s end tables don’t match or the picture frame above the couch is just a tad crooked? Well, there’s a reason for that and you’re not alone – a combination of nature and exposure to a geometrically ordered world has endowed most of us with a sense of balance and symmetry that is so ingrained that we only notice it when something is off-kilter. But, how does that impact interior decorating? <strong>Humans Associate Symmetry with Beauty</strong> Much has been made of the scientific theory that human beings are attracted to symmetry, but repeated study results in the same conclusion: Humans are naturally drawn to things that appear balanced. Admittedly, these studies have largely focused on humans’ attraction to one another <a title="National Geographic" href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/08/080818-body-symmetry.html" target="_blank">with regard to their bodies and faces</a>, but it’s not a far leap to arrive at the notion that this love of symmetry could rub off on how we perceive our physical surroundings. The proof of this is all around us, in our architecture, art and our lives. So, we are safe in the knowledge that pairing things and balancing that picture frame can make a space more beautiful. <strong>Symmetry and Balance Ease Anxiety</strong> It’s no secret that many people find a measure of serenity in symmetry. A preference for order over chaos is not surprising, but the same could be said of the opposite. It’s simply a matter of taste, although it can be influenced by one’s environment and an upbringing that emphasizes balance. Some ancient lessons persist in this way. The Golden Rule – that we should treat others as we would like to be treated – is not so far off from the Golden Mean – Aristotle’s philosophical tenet that we naturally desire the midpoint between extremes. Indeed, many Greek scholars were confident that beauty, proportion and truth comprised the definition of goodness itself. In other words, symmetry can actually make us feel <em>good</em>; about the world and about ourselves. <strong>Asymmetry Is a Powerful Decorating Tool</strong> So, if symmetry and balance are beautiful and becalming, what does that say about asymmetry? Used smartly, asymmetry can be one of the most powerful weapons in your decorating arsenal. But, as Voltaire once said (and the <em>Spider-Man</em> franchise made famous), “With great power comes great responsibility.” Overuse – and unintentional use – of asymmetry can distract from what can otherwise be a clever way to give symmetry a little edge; to, in a way, provide more balance to balance itself. <a title="ATG Stores Home Page" href="http://www.atgstores.com/default.aspx" target="_blank">ATGStores.com</a> hopes these ideas help you with your experiments in symmetry and balance in your next interior decorating plan.
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