The Power of 3...an Easy Decorating Rule!

The rule of three for me is an easy way to create a sophisticated, well pulled together room. In design, the rule of 3 can apply to architecture, color, lighting and accessorizing. In a previous post I talked about how to place lighting in a triangular configuration in a room so that the ambient illumination is evenly distributed. The same holds true with the placement of greenery in order to add color and life to a space. Now look at how the architecture in two of the rooms below and how they incorporate the rule of 3. In the first picture you will see that there are three large windows placed along the wall. This creates the room's focal point using simple symmetry.

In this next photo again you see the architectural placement of three windows and then incorporated in the decor there are three items placed on the fireplace mantle. The nice thing about working with odd numbers is that nothing is predictable, and as long as the weight of the objects is evenly distributed the arrangement will be pleasing to the eye. So in other words, the two thinner objects on the left of the mantel balances out the more bulky planter on the right.

In the example below you will see that the nightstand between the two beds is dressed with 3 items...the vase with flowers on the top, and the stack of boxes and nick knack on the bottom. (Notice that even 3 boxes were stacked.)

The tablescape in the below picture is a perfect example of how the odd number 3 is used in decorating...3 candles, a 3 wick candle and 3 decorative ensembles. The ensembles are the pedestal bowl with fruit, the large candle in the lower bowl, and the three candles in their holders.

And even on these bistro table settings you see three napkins placed along the diameter of the table.

If the surface you are working with is larger, switch the number from 3 to 5 items when accessorizing.

Happy Decorating!!!


  1. Barb, the design theory behind your attraction to 'threes' is called "Fibonacci" after the 13th century mathematician that first wrote these sequences and proportions used in design applications (such as size/ proportion and color) and music as well as mathematics... It is seen in many instances in the natural world, too (i.e., flowers and
    +seashells)! Classical proportion (with ancient Greek origins) also makes us attracted to the 'balance', if you will- of threes.

  2. Great pictures and thanks for the reminder of the 3's rule!


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