You've seen it in almost every interior design magazine or decorating book… the use of symmetry to achieve that precise, balanced look in a room. A pair of wall sconces flanking a mirror above a fireplace mantel. A pair of identical nightstands bookending a bed. A pair of urn planters standing sentinel at a front door. You've also seen symmetrical elements where the two objects are not identical. For example, one planter is a different height or color than the other. Then, you've admired free-form spaces where elements are casually, randomly placed, with little or no pairs of anything. Whether you gravitate to highly ordered spaces or let it all hang out, the key to finding your comfort zone is to incorporate a balance of both. Symmetry || The main benefit of symmetry, and the reason it's so widely used, is because it creates a sense of calm in the viewer. It promotes order and harmonious balance, where everything is in its right place. It can also denote an aura of power. Think of ancient kings and queens (two heads are better than one?). Symmetry can also be formal and predictable, so in terms of interiors, too much of it can look uptight, and if you're the restless type, you may get bored with that pair of lamps or end tables. The key is to mix it up or change the position of things periodically if it suits you. Free-Form || The benefits of free-form style or asymmetry are that it creates tension or excitement, expresses individuality and informality, and a free-spirited, unstudied approach. It can also be sophisticated, out-of-the-box creative and cutting edge. The danger is that too much asymmetry can look chaotic and cluttered. For the most part, you don't want a room that says, "Yikes, get me out of here!" Or, "What happened?" There simply are times when pairs are better. A single bookend isn't very useful, for example. The Mix || A good strategy is to determine the primary use for each room in your home, the feeling you want to convey, and how much space you have to bring your design vision to life. If you have a more formal living room, you probably want a pair of chairs flanking a fireplace (a single chair might look lonely). Or, if you're a couple sharing a bathroom, his and her sinks are likely desirable. If you're an artist or creative professional, you may only need one chair in your room, and plenty of open space to move furniture and other items around at will. Your needs may be less predictable and subject to change, depending on which projects you're involved with at any given time.