Golden ratio 01
Logo3 small
If your interior feels incomplete or too cluttered, you might need to apply the Golden Ratio to achieve a balanced arrangement.

The Golden Ratio appears in this image multiple times – even the dimensions of this image are uncannily close to the Golden Ratio. Read on to find out what we mean. Image source:

The Magic of the Golden Ratio

You could make everything symmetrical – but you’ll likely end up with a composition that is overly balanced and centred. At one point in time, ‘square’ actually meant ‘boring’.

Symmetry only works for a centrepiece so expensive that it has to be insured – such as this RM70,000 Poul Kjærholm PK80™ Daybed. Image source:

To enhance this arrangement, the rule of thirds might come to the mind of a designer - and the adding or offsetting of even a single element could result in an asymmetrical composition that feels more dynamic, natural, and inviting.

Even if you’ve encountered the rule of thirds before, at this point, you’re probably wondering what is behind this magic and how you can use it to achieve a designer-quality interior.

Standing in the presence of iconic creations such as the Eiffel Tower or the Mona Lisa, it might seem as though humanity’s most celebrated creators share an elusive sense for producing beautiful compositions that transcend time.

How does anyone simply dream this up? Image source:

Whether their abstract abilities are acquired through a lifetime of practice or gifted by divine providence, a surprising number of designers seem to rely on the Golden Ratio to inform the scale and proportions of their creations.

The Root of the Magic

The almost-mystical Golden Ratio is derived from a famed string of numbers known as the Fibonacci sequence, where each number after 1 is the sum of the previous two numbers, like this: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, and so on.

The Fibonacci sequence visualised. Image source:

That ratio appears when picking any one of the numbers in the sequence, such as 34, and dividing it by the previous number in the sequence – which would be 21 in this example.

If you check that with a calculator, you should get a result that is close to 1.618. That relationship, or quotient, between any two consecutive numbers in the Fibonacci sequence is the Golden Ratio.

The Ubiquity of the Golden Ratio

It’s everywhere – even in your hand. Image source:

Depending on what you believe, the Golden Ratio is either a sacred rule paid homage by all organic and synthetic designs, or it is merely an approximate number that just happens to be found in the shapes of everything from DNA molecules to entire galaxies.

Whether by accident or by design, the Golden Ratio also appears in many of the everyday objects we create. It would not take long for anyone to locate multiple instances of the Golden Ratio in everything from antiquities, such as Sanskrit poetry or the Pantheon in Rome, to modern creations, such as logos, websites, buildings, and everything in between.

Our homes, rooms, the things we fill them with, and even the websites we visit to buy them, are often designed with the Golden Ratio in mind. Image source:

Your Home on the Golden Ratio

For our purposes, we don’t have to apply the exact value of the Golden Ratio. There is apparently no last digit anyway - if there is, we haven’t found it yet. Anyone who works in millimetres just relies on the approximate value of 1.618.

Most people don’t typically work with numbers accurate to the thousandth decimal place, so the Golden Ratio is often simplified to handy rules such as the rule of thirds, and another derivative known as the 60-30-10 rule - both are useful for making rough adjustments towards aesthetic perfection.


If you’re fortunate enough to be designing your own home, you could go as far as directly incorporating the Fibonacci spiral into the design.

Just as this architect did to achieve this mind-blowing effect. Image source:

Even if you’re keen on using a more conventional layout, consider using the Golden Ratio, the rule of thirds, or the 60-30-10 rule, to determine the dimensions of rooms as well as the scales, proportions, and locations of architectural elements.

Even if you’re not building your own home from scratch, you’re not missing out – the average terraced home already incorporates a rough approximation of the Golden Ratio. Image source:; Combined image source.

For instance, large architectural elements such as feature walls should not occupy more than 40% of a wall – which includes accents amounting to around 10% of that area and leaves 60% of the wall empty to help make the room feel light and breezy.

Furniture Sizes

Keeping room measurements in mind when shopping for furniture seems like common sense, but you can narrow down the range of aesthetically pleasing dimensions to consider by applying the 60-30-10 rule to furniture sizes.

Notice how the elements in this well-balanced living room relate to each other and the room in terms of approximate thirds. Image source:

In the living room, for instance, designers recommended looking for a coffee table that is no more than two-thirds, or around 60%, of the sofa’s length. Going with something larger would shift the coffee table to the centre of focus, often to the detriment of your seating arrangement.

Furniture Arrangements

The same rules can be applied to help you achieve a delicate balance between cluttered and empty. Designers recommend only filling up to 60% of a room with furniture, and leaving the remaining 40% empty to achieve that balance.

That empty 40% provides space for walking and makes the ensemble feel lighter overall. Image source:

Colour Schemes

The balanced distribution of colours is another area that might seem innate to experienced interior decorators. This can also be approximated with the 60-30-10 rule to keep base, intermediate, and accent colours in balance with the rest of the room.

A subtly composed colour scheme of green, brown, and grey, expressed in accordance with the Golden Ratio, is simultaneously attention-grabbing and unimposing. Image source:

First, decide on a colour scheme comprising the few shades you want to express. Then, divide the use of these colours among the available architectural surfaces and furniture according to the Golden Ratio (or the 60-30-10 rule) like so: around 60% for the base colour, 30% for intermediate shades, and the remaining 10% for highlights and accent colours.


A space devoid of accents could come across as empty, minimalist, and perhaps even a little cold. Image source:

It is not enough to simply apply the Golden Ratio once and call it a day. The most intriguing works of art are layered in meaning to compel viewers to spend more time being drawn into the mystery.

This beguiling effect can be similarly achieved with a sprinkling of accents amounting from 10% to 40% of a surface to give your interior a lived-in feel.

Adjust as required, depending on your preferences for chaos or order, and the visual complexity of the accent - make complex elements smaller and simple elements larger. Image source:

The Golden Ratio and its derivative rules, the rule of thirds and the 60-30-10 rule, will help you achieve a balanced and eye-catching design quicker - but as always, we highly recommend doing a quick sketch to ensure dimensions sit right with you before putting any money down.

(Written by Kevin Eichenberger, 21st July 2020)


Attachment small

Interesting read with a lot of images and diagrams.