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Did you know that one of the fundamentals of beauty is symmetry? According to research, the more symmetrical a face is, the more beautiful we think it is.

And as humans, we’re attracted to symmetry and balance. One night table for each side of the bed. Equal space between bookcase. You can find plenty of examples where symmetry can do a lot to beautify a space.

But, personally, I love to be contrary sometimes. And things that are perfectly symmetrical and balanced often end up boring me. But I’m happy to say that asymmetry is alive and well in home decor, and that plenty of designers and homeowners use it for plenty of reasons. Here are some that I discovered in my search for unbalance.

1. To pull mismatched elements together

Asymmetry is often linked to chaos. Which is why doing it thoughtfully is perfect when you have a bunch of mismatched elements in your decor.

Eclectic Dining Room by Los Angeles Interior Designers & Decorators MJ Lanphier

Every chair is different–not only a different style, but a different color. With a little balance from the symmetrical frames on the wall, this kitchen just screams creativity!

I love how the table runner is off the centre and held with some books. The different styles of sculptures are also striking. This is someone with eclectic taste and who isn’t afraid to show it.

2. To amplify focus on a single element

Asymmetry can be effectively used to increase the focus on a single decor element. Because the decor is off-balance, the eye will be drawn to whatever has a prominent place in the room. Breaking the monotony of a symmetrical decor can bring attention to where you want it.

Contemporary Bedroom by Philadelphia Furniture & Accessories usona

Here, the bed is the focus element; more precisely, the headboard is. Framed by the window at the top and balanced with both the lamp to the left and the art to the right, what you really see is the original, see-through headboard.

Midcentury Living Room by Kansas City Design-Build Firms Hufft Projects

Here, a single modern portrait is the focal point of the room. Because the fireplace is off-centre from the brick, our eyes are instantly drawn to it; keeping the art to the left side (which happens to be smack in the middle of the stone section of the wall) brings our attention up there quickly.

3. To provide movement

One of the best things you can do with static home decor is to give the impression of movement. I’m always impressed with a space seems alive with waves or paths.

Asymmetry can help you develop a beautiful movement by guiding the eye through a visual path.

Contemporary Bedroom by Chicago Interior Designers & Decorators Jessica Lagrange Interiors

The asymmetrical wall cabinets with just as asymmetrical shelves behind the wall guide the eye from the chair to the lamp, then to the sculpture and finally the ceiling. There’s a dance-like element to this bedroom that I really love; and don’t get me started on the gorgeous red bedspread that I want to own right now.

Eclectic Bathroom by San Francisco Interior Designers & Decorators Antonio Martins Interior Design

An unfortunate feature of the architecture of this bathroom is corrected by playing up the asymmetry with a mirror halfway across the window and some shelves. I love the movement of this bathroom; in spaces that are too often clinical and boring, this design achieves a beautiful, human ruggedness and imperfection that really speaks to me.

Transitional Living Room by Los Angeles Interior Designers & Decorators maison21

Here, you have a clever use of asymmetry to break up what could be a boringly symmetrical room. The eye begins at the right and follows the elephants to the television, and finally ends at the top of the bookshelf. The shelves also seem laid out in an asymmetrical pattern, which also adds interesting movement.

4. To emphasize function

Sometimes, asymmetry can be used to emphasize the function of two different items in the same space.

Contemporary Living Room by Brentwood Kitchen & Bath Designers Precision Cabinets

This living room has two obvious separate spaces: the fireplace and the television. The fireplace is clear of clutter and highly visible, while the television is surrounded by knickknacks and more deeply embedded in the wall. It seems to me like this family prefers sitting and chatting around the fireplace than endlessly watching TV, but that it enjoys a good movie or two.

Balanced or chaotic?

What are you attracted to? Do you prefer the perfectly balanced approach or do embrace chaotic asymmetry? Let us know in the comments!

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Anabelle Bernard Fournier

Anabelle is a freelance writer, writing teacher and blogger. She spends a lot of time at home, so she likes to make sure that it's cozy and nice, especially in her reading nook. In her free time, Anabelle knits, walks and learns how to write stories.