Here at Rue, we think the most important rules when designing your home are Choose Furniture You Love and Trust Your Eye. However, for those times when you are feeling a bit uncertain of where to start, Professor Rue is here to share our best tips on choosing furniture to fit the scale of your room and be proportional.

What do we mean by scale and proportion? A piece of furniture should be in scale with the room and proportional (a similar size) to the other items of furniture in that room. An easy way to keep your furniture in scale is to match the lines of your room. A loft looks great with low furniture because it is also longer than it is wide. A small room with tall ceilings calls for furniture that is also tall rather than sprawling. If your room is both wide and tall, you have the option of either playing with low, wide furniture or choosing large, tall pieces. Just be sure to accent the walls with large pieces of art or other visual interest.

Think of the visual weight of furniture, not just physical size. Glass and Lucite take up less visual space, as do thin legs and light colors. In a small room, you can fill a lot of the floor space without feeling cluttered by employing these visual tricks.

When planning the placement of your furniture, think about the relationship between pieces of furniture and their use. Coffee tables should be within 4” of the seat height of nearby sofa or side chairs. Leave about 18” between the sofa and coffee table to allow for a comfortable reach for drinks. Consider common walking paths between doors and furniture so the flow of traffic in your home isn’t interrupted.

Lastly, know how to break the rules. You don’t have to follow any guidelines perfectly. For example, if you have tall ceilings but love a certain low-slung sofa, you can make it work by adding a large piece of artwork above to fill the space. Remember, trust your eye and choose what you love.

1. Design: Serena Armstrong and Photography: Sean Dagan (February 2012) / 2. Design: Valorie Hart and Photography: Sara Essex Bradley (May 2012) / 3. Design: Soledad Alzaga and Photography: Emily Anderson (September 2012) / 4. Design: Agnes Verrier and Photography: Scott Woodward (July/ August 2011) / 5. Design: Sabrina Soto. and Photography: Emily Anderson (September/October 2011)