Rule of Three in Interior Design

The rule of 3 is a powerful tool when decorating your home and is a technique designers employ frequently to make their designs work harmoniously.

The guideline of threes simply states that things arranged in odd numbers are more visually appealing to the human eye. Groupings of items in odd numbers tend to look more dynamic and natural to us as well as being more memorable. Three seems to be the magic number for interior design, but the rule also applies nicely for groupings of five or seven. The principle of the “odd” number rule can also be seen in many other areas of life such as architecture, graphic design, art and photography.

So Why Three?

Apparently, it’s just how our brains work. Three is the smallest number that can be used to form a distinguishable pattern in our heads. The human brain likes to easily puzzle things together and with three you can always find the centre point and balance. Once you get past that, the brain has to work harder so naturally, it starts to resist. Also, when we see an odd number of things, our eyes are forced to move around more, which makes for a more interesting visual experience.


The rule of three can be applied when choosing colours in your home. The equation says that when choosing colours for a room, you should select:

  • a main colour for the space that makes up 60%
  • a secondary colour that makes up 30%
  • and an accent colour that makes up 10%

The colours don’t need to be bold or opposites on the colour wheel to work, you can choose colours that are neutral too.  Choosing only two colours, tones or shades in a room can make it feel flat and not fully dimensional. A third makes the space feel more designed and complete.  

Other Ways to Apply the Rule of Three

  • Lighting – Three pendent lights hanging over a kitchen island
  • Fabrics – Combining different three different patterns in a room
  • Artwork – Create a grouping of three similar framed pieces of art
  • Accessories and styling - Grouping accessories in threes is pleasing to the eye. It can look very effective if you have a collections of vases and accessories of the same style but different heights and textures. Our set of 3 Camille 'White' and 'Mocha' have 3 different curved silhouettes that compliment each other perfectly when styled together.

Don’t Take The Rule Of Three Too Literally

Now that we have hammered this rule into your head, we are going to tell you not to take it too seriously.  Don’t run about your home making arrangements of three everywhere. I should clarify, odd isn’t always the way to go; sometimes even numbers work and the importance of pairs should not be overlooked. Symmetry is not bad, nor is breaking the rules. The rule of three is a guideline that can be bent. Essentially, it was put into place so that people understand that an odd-number of items is more interesting and effective at capturing your gaze. Essentially, there is a balance to be found between symmetry and asymmetry.

We’d love to see how you have applied the rule of 3 in your home. Tag us in your photos on social media.

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