The rule of three in interior design
If you’re in any way artistically inclined, you’ve probably heard of the rule of three.
The rule of three states that objects arranged in odd numbers are more interesting and eye-catching than even-numbered groups. This applies to visual artworks, photography, film, theatre, architecture, and you guessed it… interior design.
Why is three the magic number?
Our brains are tickled by groups of three. Too sparse or symmetrical and we get bored or uninspired. Too many objects and our visual senses basically get overwhelmed. Groups of five or seven can also work well to draw the eye, but for the interior beginner, it is so much easier to strike the right balance with the rule of three.
The rule of three in practice
It takes a practiced eye to achieve perfectly imperfect asymmetry, but here are a few ways you can make the rule of three work for your interior styling.
- Focus on me: Remember that the rule of three works because the brain is trying to make sense of a “picture” and find a focal point. So make sure you keep this in mind with your interior design and choose a central piece of furniture or decor to balance the other two objects around.
- Shapes and sizes: Create a vignette of decor with differing heights and forms. The more eclectic the better to emphasise the visual interest of the rule of three, but make sure there is at least one common element (texture, colour, or so on) to tie the vignette together. This works great for casual, modern homes.
- Match and match: On the other hand, what’s better than one statement accessory than three of the same? This technique works well for artworks and vases, lending a bold, luxury aesthetic to a more formal space.
- Radiate outwards: You could also try playing with radial symmetry and the rule of three. Place the biggest object in the centre, with the smaller objects radiating outwards.
- Stack ’em up: Whether it’s bowls, books, or throw cushions, everything always looks better in a stack of three.
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