The Magic of Pairs

Use pairs to create symmetry and drama in your space

Decorating with pairs

When we’re decorating a space, whether it’s in a catalog or for our own home, some things just work. Symmetry is one of those things. A symmetrical arrangement of furniture or art just works, always, which is why we’re constantly using pairs to turn so-so spaces into gorgeous rooms your family can enjoy. Today, we thought we would elaborate on our love for pairs and why you need them in your home.

Decorating with furniture pairs

1. Symmetry is your friend

The great thing about pairs, especially upholstered pieces like a handsome set of arm chairs or a pair of Louis chairs, is that they immediately bring order to a space, which is something the eye is always drawn to. When you create symmetry in a space, you’re creating a polished, impactful look that is both soothing and dramatic, but that doesn’t mean every one of your rooms needs to have mirror images on each side. Even in a space that is inherently asymmetrical, a pair of chairs or bookcases can work wonders! In the space above, for example, we used three sets of pairs — armchairs, bookcases, and mirrors — to give this asymmetrical family and breakfast room a sense of order and balance.

A pair of purple linen armchairs gives this space a polished, bold feel

Pairs can be dramatic when used in a space

2. Bring drama into your space

With a bold color or pattern on a pair of armchairs, you can create a dramatic feel without making your room feel fussy or over-the-top. In the spaces above, we chose statement-making fabrics to inject our rooms with the perfect amount of personality!

3. Keep it open

One of our favorite ways to use pairs is when we’d like to keep the floor plan fairly open, while still maximizing the amount of seating. In the high-traffic space above, we used a pair of Leyland armchairs across from a tufted sofa, this way you can easily walk to the desk area or through the doorways on the outskirts of the room, but we still have seating for 4 people! For this reason, a pair of chairs is often preferable to a full sofa.

Split up pairs when you need to

4. Invest in Pairs for Versatility

Another reason we love pairs — they’re so versatile. Whether you’re living in a rental space and you’re hesitant to invest in pieces that can’t multi-task or a move may be in your future, a pair of chairs is a fantastic investment piece. You can use them together in a large family room, you can use them to flank a console in an entryway, or you can split them up and use one at a desk and another at the dining table. No matter where you live or how your space changes over the years, a pair of chairs will always work!

Pairs in an entryway

5. Symmetry in an entryway

Entries and hallways can be tricky spaces to decorate because its not always clear what furniture pieces you need. When in doubt though, we will always love the look of a console table flanked by a pair of chairs. Whether you prefer a bold ikat like we used in the space above, or you prefer go-anyway neutrals, a pair of chairs on either side of a console is a look we’ll never tire of, and we bet you won’t either.

Symmetrical accessories work well too

6. Pick pairs of accessories, too

You may not always be thrilled at the idea of buying two lamps instead of one, but pairing up your accessories is another great way to add purpose and punch to your space. In this room, we’ve flanked a sofa with a matching pair of end tables and lamps. It feels cohesive because in a room that already has so many elements, the matching end caps ¬†are a moment for your eyes to rest when looking around this space. It also doesn’t hurt that these two tall lamps fill the large expanse of wall behind the sofa!

 Browse more decorating ideas on our Ballard Designs Pinterest boards, or find room inspiration in our photo galleries!

How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.