I love simple, easy to follow rules like the one I’m about to share with you.
Although, I think a lot of design rules can be bent or broken, this is one I recommend you follow.
Three is the magic number. In writing, photography, and design, grouping things in elements of three is a classic principle to follow. In the Home Styling 101 video series, I repeatedly use the rule of three, even when I’m teaching you other styling tricks, because it works.
For decorating, the Rule of Three means objects look better in a group of three.
The easiest way to follow the Rule of Three is to display a matching set of décor—three different sizes of the same type of object. In video two of Home Styling 101, I showed you how you can use shape and texture to break up a matched set and make it a little bit more interesting.
Instead of displaying matching objects as a group, you can mix matched sets together to create coordinated, but varied groupings. This is an easy way to create multiple arrangements for one room that are unique, but coordinated.
In the example above, I swapped the smallest finial with the driftwood ball from the other arrangement. Now, there are two arrangements that follow the Rule of Three, without being matchy-matchy. Displaying these two coordinated arrangements in the same room creates decorating continuity.
The next best thing to Rule of Three is creating odd numbered arrangements like one, five, seven, or nine. Sometimes larger spaces, like a mantel or long shelf requires a bigger arrangement to decorate the space. In the Rule of Three video episode, I show two ways to combine two smaller arrangements into one larger arrangement.
Remember, in most decorating situations bigger décor is better and less is usually more. When you’re starting out, stick to arrangements of one, three, or five. When you start putting together groups of seven or nine it gets more complicated. Start with simpler arrangements.
How to Style a Coffee Table Using the Rule of Three
Are you wondering, “What about my books, and my collectibles, and everything scattered across my coffee table right now?”
I’ve got one final tip for you when it comes to the Rule of Three. On a coffee table (or sofa table or desk), don’t limit yourself to only three objects on the surface. Instead, think of the Rule of Three as three footprints on the surface.
Now, the example below has 12 objects total, all neatly arranged into three footprints.
- A stack of books, even though it’s three books, only makes one footprint. A stack of books with a decorative object on top is still only one footprint. For the purposes of the Rule of Three, a stack reads as one visual element.
- A tray, regardless of how many objects are on it, only makes one footprint on the surface. For even more advanced styling, limit yourself to three footprints on top of the tray. In the example above, the three footprints are; 1) a stack of books with a jar on top, 2) a vase of flowers, and 3) a driftwood ball.
- A larger decorative object, like a globe or a vase of flowers or a sculpture, makes one footprint.
Remember, when arranging your décor, create odd number groupings. The best looking (and easiest to arrange) are groups of three.
To see the Rule of Three demonstrated on video, and get access to the entire Home Styling 101 video series, click here. I can’t wait to show you how easy it is to arrange your home decor like a pro stylist.