How to Use the Rule of Three for Perfectly Styled Home Decor

How to Use the Rule of Three for Perfectly Styled Home Decor

If you can't seem to style your decor pieces quite right, the solution might be as simple as learning how to group your decor. Whether you have too many objects huddled together or not enough variation, this easy strategy used by the best designers could solve all of your design woes.

Rustic wood wall with relief artwork
Three is the magic number in home decor, which is why designers rely on the appropriately-named 'rule of three' for styling just about everything. From trinkets to artwork to furniture, this design guideline will help you create perfectly-curated spaces. Discover how interior decorators use it to create balanced spaces with impact.


What Is the Rule of Three?

Grouping things in threes is pleasing to the eye and creates a balanced composition that is visually appealing. “Items of any kind look better when used in groups of three” says Kristin Marino, interior designer and founder of Kozy Kasa. In fact, “odd numbers, in general, is a rule all designers should follow," she says.

It might defy logic, but grouping objects in odd numbers is far more visually pleasing and memorable than grouping in even numbers; it has to do with how our brains register what’s around us. The rule of three is a tried and tested technique that works in other areas too, such as graphic design, artwork, and photographic compositions.

“I love to use the rule of three in interior design,” says interior designer Paige Goodloe. “It helps to create balance and beauty in a space.” The rule can be applied to any design element, from color, pattern, and texture to furniture and decor placement and organization.


How to Decorate Using the Rule of Three

Use these ideas from the experts to decorate your home with trios of furniture, artwork, and decor pieces.

1. Create Stand-Out Decor Features

Mantel three-piece vignette

Grouping objects in threes can turn three disparate objects into a unified and eye-catching feature that looks intentional. Scale matters here, too. Combining tall objects with smaller ones creates further balance and guides our eyes around the composition, making it a more engaging visual experience. “Place three taper candle holders at different heights together on your bookshelves,” Marino says. “Or, try a decorative bowl on top of a coffee table book and perhaps a smaller candle or taller vase styled together.”  


2. Perfect Your Furniture Arrangements

Modern Living Room Magic with Black Accents and Themes • 333+ Art Images

Whether you want to fill a room or an awkward void, grouping three furniture pieces together can help define a space. For a casual arrangement, follow the same guidelines as the decor, unifying three items of varying shapes and sizes, such as a chair, side table, and artwork. You could also add a rug to anchor the vignette. For a more formal look, create symmetry by flanking one object with two pieces of furniture that are the same or of the same scale, such as two armchairs with a small side table between them in a bay window or a sofa and two armchairs in the living room.


3. Style Artwork

midcentury modern entryway

“I love to use the rule of three with artwork,” Goodloe says. “I like to place three pieces of art over a king bed, all equally spaced two inches apart—three just feels so much better than two.” She also recommends hanging two larger pieces of artwork below with a small mirror above. “It creates a nice little vignette," she says. If you want to create a gallery wall or display a series of prints, you can stretch the rule of three to become the rule of five, seven, or nine, and so on—just stick with odd numbers.


4. Create Magic with Color

Unlock the Magic of Analogous Color Schemes

You might be familiar with the 60-30-10 color rule, used by interior designers to create a balanced color scheme. It’s actually the same rule of three, just spelled out slightly differently as color percentages of 60, 30, and 10. “The idea is to use no more than three main colors in your space,” Marino explains.

The most dominant color should be 60% of your space, covering the largest surface area of a room, such as the walls. This forms the starting point for the rest of the scheme. The 30% color is the secondary color that usually contrasts with the primary color to bring depth and interest to the space. We suggest using this hue on the most significant pieces in the room, like a sofa, curtains, or bedhead. The final 10% is an accent color that complements the secondary hue. “Introduce accent colors through smaller pieces, like throw pillows, artwork, or decorative objects,” Marino says.


5. Scatter Your Cushions the Right Way

midcentury bedroom black walls bed

The beauty is in the details in interior design—throw pillows included. “Keep cushions on a bed, sofa, or sectional to groups of three,” Goodlow says. “I do the largest pillow in the back, followed by a 22-inch by 22-inch square and a little lumbar in front. The different sizes and layering please the eye.” Cushions make a sofa or bed so much more inviting and are also a great opportunity to experiment with color and texture.


6. Dazzle with Decorative Lighting

Home of Decorative Designer Lighting | Interior & Outdoor Lights

Grouping decorative lighting in threes is a popular way to create an eye-catching feature. Hanging three evenly-spaced pendants over the kitchen island establishes a focal and central point while creating a sense of balance. Alternatively, a curated cluster of pendant lights is a clever way to make an impact in the dining room. Mix and match lights of different shapes and complementary colors and hang them at different drop lengths to form a harmonious composition. 




  • All photos used in this blogpost are sourced from the internet, and the rights belong to their respective owners
  • Flaxman, S. (2024, April 10). How to Use the Rule of Three for Perfectly Styled Home Decor. Better Homes & Gardens.


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