Scale is one of the easiest things to get wrong, and for that reason it's the area where we tend to want play it safe. However, safe usually translates to small which in turn usually translates to dinky— far from chic! Nobody wants a sofa swallowing their entire living room, but there are a few areas where it's hard to go wrong when you go big.
•Artwork. Given its subjective nature and its role as focal point, art is probably the thing that you are least likely to get wrong by going large scale. As one reader pointed out in our last discussion of large scale artwork, a big piece of art gives a low-ceiling-ed room a sense of scale. I tend to put paintings and photography in the same boat when it comes to large scale art. For sources for printing a variety of large scale photographs, visit this post on supersize photos.
&bull Overhead lighting. While a gigantic light fixture is certainly capable of throwing off a room, I tend to go most often with the thought that it's better to go too big than too small when it comes to overhead lighting, especially pendants and chandeliers. Like artwork, a large fixture lends a room prominence. Just make it functional— the threat of decapitation from a large fixture hung too low is never stylish.
&bull Floor Lamps. A point of debate, for sure, but a trend I love! Large shaded floor lamps or just overall gigantic floor lamps (picture 2) lighten the mood as well as a dark space. The same doesn't necessarily seem to hold true with table lamps though. While there are exceptions, a big lamp base teetering on a tiny side often reads more as "hazard" than ironic.
&bull Mirrors. Probably the safest of all oversize items, big mirrors in small spaces do more than add drama and focus to a small room, they expand it visually and make the most of limited natural light.
When it comes to furniture, I generally play it safe. My risks have almost all meant mistakes when I've tried to go big, and I've found that it's much easier to compensate for a small sofa with a large piece of art than the reverse.