Interior Design

Kelly Wearstler reveals how she plays with scale in her interior design

Iconic interior designer Kelly Wearstler shares her insight into how to play with scale to create drama and impact

Kelly Wearstler playing with scale
(Image credit: Kelly Wearstler)

If you have been working on a design for a room – whether a living space, bedroom or even entryway, you may feel that some elements of the room don't quite fit. Or perhaps that the space lacks impact?

Interior design is something of an art – and the best schemes are usually created with professional input, though you needn't hire a decorator to get it. We talked to renowned interior designer Kelly Wearstler about using scale in interior design. Renowned for her dramatic but liveable schemes, she offers her invaluable insight, below.

Kelly Wearstler

(Image credit: Kelly Wearstler / Joyce Park)

1. Use scale to create contrast

Winter living room styling by Kelly Wearstler

Winter living room by Kelly Wearstler

(Image credit: Kelly Wearstler)

'When working with scale in a room, what you’re really trying to do is create a beautiful tension,' says Kelly Wearstler. 'It’s so much more interesting to pair a large sofa with a smaller side table than have everything lined up.'

2. Vary furniture heights

Kelly Wearstler living room

Kelly Wearstler-designed space

(Image credit: Kelly Wearstler)

'Looking at heights of furniture is so important. Pair side tables of different heights, a lower one at around 14 inches high with one that’s maybe 26 inches. Having varying heights creates a depth of field and more interest to the eye,' says Kelly Wearstler.

3. Draw attention to a bed

A bedroom furniture idea with modern wooden bedside table against natural wood panelled wall

(Image credit: Arteriors London)

'In bedrooms, if you have a large bed in a room that isn’t too big, pairing it with two really small, delicate side tables will help make a small bedroom feel bigger

'For larger bedrooms, beds can seem quite out of scale, so I love to design beds which have a larger piece of upholstery or wood around it, accentuating the furniture, making it appear even wider and ensuring the attention is on the bed as the main element in the room.'

4. Consider hierarchy 

Dining room in Kelly Wearstler house

Dining room in Kelly Wearstler-designed interior

(Image credit: Kelly Wearstler)

'When I design, I think about hierarchy. What is the largest piece in the room – the sofa? The bed? A piece of art? There’s no wrong or right answer, but once you have your largest piece in mind you can start to think of how to create that contrast with smaller pieces.'

5. Consider lighting when playing with scale

Living room in Kelly Wearstler house

Living room in Kelly Wearstler-designed interior

(Image credit: Kelly Wearstler/The Ingalls)

'Lighting is really so important and an excellent way of playing with scale. Oversized chandeliers are a great place to begin, then I love sconces and then having lamps on a table uplighting a sculpture or piece of art.'

Where Kelly Wearstler shops for scaled up pieces

  • Morentz is a great gallery when it comes to sourcing just about anything, including large sofas and sectionals. They tend to have an array of post-modern designed sofas along with other modular classics by De Sede, Mario Bellini, and Ettore Castelli. They're amazing for sourcing for the odd and peculiar. 
  • For statement, lighting I look at Carpenters Workshop Gallery (Vincenzo De Cotiis), Tod Merrell and David Krynauw.
Thea Babington-Stitt
Content Editor

Thea Babington-Stitt is a Content Editor at Future. She has been an interiors journalist for nearly 10 years and has held positions at LivingEtc, Country Homes & Interiors and Homes & Gardens. Currently, she is writing for Ideal Home and Style At Home's websites and magazines.