An architect's sketchbook is a place for writing down ideas & observations, resolving problems, and thinking about space visually. Here you can find helpful tips and tricks, as well as architectural musings.

Visual Levels | Cozy Tip #2

Interior Design Tips

I hope you are snuggling into this cozy weather and enjoying wearing sweaters, fuzzy slippers, and drinking your favorite hot delicious beverage. Today I’m back with my second tip on how to make your home or office cozy and homey (in the best way). If you missed my first tip – plants and flowers – you can catch up on it here. On to tip #2: visual levels.

It’s all about Balance

I firmly believe that visual levels are the key to balanced designs. Our eyes move very quickly to take in our surroundings. Having visual cues at different heights around the room is one of the key components to good spatial composition. This visual variety draws our eyes around the space and creates a ton of interest. Now, I don’t mean multiple levels or stories on a building and that all of you who live or work on a single floor are bum out of luck. Nope! I mean visual levels within a space. The tall, narrow bookshelf in the corner, the tabletop height credenza along the wall, the curtains hanging from ceiling to floor, and the potted plant sitting low in the corner. 

Think Aesthetics, not just Function

First, many people think good aesthetics means things must line up exactly all around a room. Or they buy a piece of furniture purely for the function of it. Don’t get me wrong, I love alignment and I love function, but the second part of the equation to styling a space is aesthetics.

For example, it is easy to look at all your boxes of books and think: “I need a bookshelf.” So, you go out and buy a wide and low bookshelves that holds exactly all of your books. Great! However, if you look around your space and see that all of your furniture is at about that same visual level – couch, table, counter, desk – you may want to consider buying a taller and narrower bookshelf in order to introduce new visual levels within the space.


If you have five pieces of art that are all about the same medium size, you may want to consider grouping. Place some of them vertically on one wall. Or create a gallery wall by mixing other sized art pieces around the similarly sized ones. Do this rather than placing the same sized art at the exact same visual level around the room. Even that sentence is boring to read. And your room aesthetics will be too. All in all, grouping leads your eye up, down, and around the room rather than staying at a static all around.

Why visual levels in your aesthetics makes your space feel more comfortable at no extra cost.

Long Curtains

Furthermore, this concept of visual levels within a space is also why curtains that hang from the ceiling to the floor feel more grand and comfortable. Even if the window is small, long curtains lead your eye up and down. This makes the window seem bigger than it is. Additionally, the fabric of the curtains is much more visually attractive and appealing than a simple shade that fits within the window frame itself.

Get Creative

Lastly, you don’t necessarily need to go out and buy new furniture pieces or art in order to achieve visual levels. Stack smaller shelves on top of your desk or wider low shelves. Move pieces of art that you already have around your home, or get creative with baskets, plants, dishes, and blankets. Pick things up from thrift stores. Nab things your friends and family are getting rid of. The fun part about levels and decorating is that nothing is permanent. If you don’t like what you came up with, try again! Just get creative and have fun!

Check out my blog — Sketchbook — for interior design and architecture tips, musings, and more!

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