Home Decor by the Numbers – The Rule of Three

Share Share this post

When it comes to interior design and home decor you may think you have an open palette on which to decorate.

But in truth, the perfect interior design is created by a series of rules that will create a more interesting, memorable and intriguing interior.  One of these design rules is the Rule of Three.

Today, we’ll explore this age old design rule, how to incorporate it into your home, and look at some well executed concepts.


The Rule of Three is a design principle which affects every room of your home. It dictates layout, size and shape of objects, the work triangle of a kitchen, even the color, pattern and fabric designs of your room.

This concept is seen everywhere from presentations, magazines, to photography and of course, interior design and it is best described by the theory of Feng Shui.  This theory presents the idea that odd numbers expand and create more energy, while even number contract and condense. So what does this mean to you? If you want to infuse your space with energy, create a well-designed space that is inviting and relaxing, and make your room feel as large as possible (no matter how big it is) you can do this with the Rule of Three.


One is not enough, and five or more is too much, why three?

One is boring, it doesn’t really create a lot of energy or interest in a space. Imagine a blank room with just one chair in the corner. No matter how comfortable that chair is, you probably won’t want to spend too much time in here.

Home Decor Blank Room One Chair from Carlisle Wide Plank FloorsSOURCE

Now imagine a room with 5 or more elements like the Punk Rock Suite at the Hard Rock Hotel. Now the design here may have been intentional, given the desired scheme (aka PUNK ROCK) but you can see it looks very busy.

Home Decor Ideas from Carlisle Wide Plank Floors  SOURCE

The human brain likes to easily puzzle things together and with three you can always find the center point and balance. Once you get past that, the brain has to work hard so naturally it starts to resist.


Now that you know why you should use the Rule of Three, let's look at some ways to apply this concept to your décor.


When applying color to your room the general principle is to add one big area of color, for example like this accent wall, a sofa, a decorative tapestry or area rug. Then look for 2 other ways to reintroduce that color within the room.  According to the blog Mr.Kate.com you need to repeat a color at least 3 times to give a room a pop of color, otherwise it just looks out of place.

Notice how in this Santa Cruz kitchen you have a pop of lavender on the large accent wall, this is then accented by the vase and the similarly colored island bar stool.

Home Decor and Hickory Floors from Carlisle Wide Plank Floors


The Rule of Three also applies to the size of an object, this includes the height and girth. The good news is, they don’t all have to be the same size.

This layout from Gauthier-Stacy Interior Design shows three bottles, all of varying sizes. This creates more visual appeal.

Rule of Three Home Decor from Carlisle Wide Plank Floors



You can also create an intriguing decor collection with three items in different shapes.

The logic of size and shape applies to many elements of your interior décor. The accent pillows you put on your sofa or bed; the arrangement you choose for your bookshelves or mantle; the lighting layout for your kitchen.


Now that you’ve explored some ways to incorporate this into your home, let's look at some projects that put this rule to work.

This kitchen has several examples of the the Rule of Three, and of odd numbers in general. There is a three prong light design above the island, 3 clay tiles behind the stove and three white pottery canisters on the counter. But notice how there are odd multiples of everything from the glass jars and glass vases to the singular glass water dispenser on the island.

The photo does beg the question, why 4 stools? I guess we will never know.

In this home, you have three beautiful vases adorning the rustic wood mantelpiece. They add balance to the room, which also features a rustic stone fireplace and dynamic color variation within the heart pine flooring.

Home Decor and Heart Pine Flooring from Carlisle Wide Plank Floors

In this Alabama home we see the perfect example of the Rule of Three.

  • 3 pieces of furniture, perfectly balanced in a triangle
  • 3 bronze statues
  • 3 paintings
  • 3 doorways from the entryway

Notice each section of the room also features the general rule of odds over evens. To the center you have the console table, and two plants; to the right you have the table, painting and statue; to the left you have the table, lamp, artwork and others accents. Even the dark wood flooring is made in three random widths.

Home Decor and Dark Wood Flooring from Carlisle Wide Plank Floors

Even those who prefer more linear, and less abstract, can find balance and symmetry with the Rule of Three.


Did you use the Rule of Three in your interior decor?

Share Share this post