Why You Should Incorporate Different Furniture Heights Into Your Room

How to Decorate the new Octavia Bookcase from Ballard Designs

We’ve talked about balance a lot recently here on How to Decorate, specifically in terms of styling your furniture pieces and in bring both light and dark pieces into your room. Another way to bring balance into your space is to incorporate furniture pieces of all heights. It’s important to have something at various heights to help move your eye through the room, and also to make sure every quadrant of your room is ‘active.’ In other words, don’t forget to address the tops of your walls!

We pulled furniture pieces of all heights to add layers and movement to this space

Bring in Tall Furniture

A large armoire, bookcase, or etagere is a great way to draw your eye up and around the room. Even just one taller pieces can add some variety and make sure all of your furniture pieces aren’t on the same plane. Take the space above. We have a low footstool, a pair of chairs, a taller side table, then even taller bookcases. All of these pieces have different heights which makes the combination interesting.

blue and white living room

Hang Drapery Up High

You don’t always have to use tall furniture to make sure you draw the eye up in your room. A great way to do that is with tall drapery panels or dark drapery hardware. In this living room, we used bold blue-and-white patterned drapery panel which created the same effect that a tall bookcase might have.

Ballard Designs Bourdonnais Desk used in an entry designed by Bunny Williams

Use a Tall Mirror or Piece of Art

Any sort of wall decor is a great way to draw your eye towards the ceiling and to make sure you’re giving every area of your room something ‘active.’ Or Grand Palais does this easily because of it’s large scale.

Use a colorful rug as a starting point when you're decorating a room from scratch

Consider Seat Backs

Another great way to bring plenty of movement into your space is to choose some seating with a high back and some seating with a low back. Not only does this help bring different heights to your space, but these two types of seating are best for different purposes. Our Thurston wing chairs are great when you have guests over for drinks, and our lower backed Eton Sofa is great for lounging.

Add picture lights over bookshelves to draw your eye's attention up high

Add Lighting Up High

Anywhere you have light will activate that space, so consider adding picture lights close to your ceiling over a bookcase. We love the way interior designer Mark D. Sikes did this in his living room in the Southern Living Idea House.

Whether you’re just planning your room’s layout or pulling in final art and accents, incorporate pieces (both furniture and accessories) that will draw your eye to different planes. If everything is at the same level, you’ll have less movement and therefore less interest in your space.

For more design inspiration, visit our Pinterest Boards, or find more gorgeous rooms in our Photo Gallery

Did you like this post and find it helpful? Rate it below and share your thoughts in the comments.

Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.


  1. Reply


    March 19, 2018

    Should your club chairs on sides of sofa be the same height as sofa?

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      March 21, 2018

      This is a great question, and I really think it depends on your space. There are definitely scenarios where you may want a taller chair on the sides like a wingback that would be a good deal taller than your sofa. This works well in large spaces where you’re trying to define a smaller space within a larger room. If you have a small space, I would keep the chairs to the same height as your sofa for a more tailored, open feel.
      Best of luck!

  2. Reply


    July 27, 2017

    I really appreciate these kinds of posts! As far as height around the room goes, does this mean there should be something tall/high on each of the four sides of a room? I have the slim Chadwick armoire on one wall, high curtains on the one next to it, should there be something high on the other two also?

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      July 27, 2017

      There’s really no hard and fast rule. If you’ve already got two walls covered, you’re doing great! Maybe think about taking some art to the ceiling on another wall. That’s an easy way to go up!
      I’m so happy to hear you liked this post and found it helpful.
      Thanks for your comment,

  3. Reply


    March 29, 2017

    Wonderful information! I have a question. In the third photo, the one with the cream couch and the two blue chairs. That looks like a Birch Lane couch I’m considering purchasing from Joss & Main (or Wayfair) and I’m looking for the fabric and color shown in your photo. Do you know which fabric/color was used? I’m looking for cotton of some sort in an off white or cream but not too cream. Just like your photo.

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      March 29, 2017

      Thanks for your question. This is Ballard Designs’ Eton Sofa in our Off-White Twill fabric. You can order a free swatch if you want to see it in person. It’s does have some yellow in but looks very accurate to this photo.

  4. Reply


    February 20, 2017

    Great ideas and the information was helpful