Odd numbers work magic.
The most common favorite is the Rule of Three, also known as the golden ratio or golden rule.
This Rule of Three says that things arranged in odd numbers are more appealing, memorable, and effective than even-numbered groupings.
Why odd numbers?
Because it’s how our brains work.
Three is the smallest number that we can use to form a recognizable pattern in our mind.
Interestingly, when you see an odd number of things, your eye is forced to move around, creating a more captivating visual experience. One that has more energy, yet with a sense of harmony and balance making the room more inviting and appealing.
The Rule of Three and odd numbers can be used in many areas in your home. From as small as arranging items on a tray to as large as a room layout.
It's also effective in every place in your home, from the bedroom to the bathroom to the kitchen.
Although symmetrical designs can have a huge visual impact, they can be tricky.
Often they feel uniform and stiff.
However, there are exceptions.
Sometimes two of something is perfect, sometimes four of something is even better! More on this later.
Balancing a 2-piece set of symmetrical art with an odd number of pillows
Yes, it's really six pillows but visually the patterned pillows in the back appear as one.
Begin with threes so you take away any guessing and complexity, allowing yourself to create easy and effortless compositions.
5 – tips using the Rule of Three
1. Focal Point
Remember that the rule of three works because the brain is trying to make sense of a “picture” and find a focal point, click here for more info on focal points.
So make sure you keep this in mind with your design and choose a central piece of furniture or decor to balance the other two objects around.
The size and centering of the winter painting is the 'focal point' or anchor of this vignette
2. Shapes and sizes:
Create a vignette with differing heights and forms.
Among the different sizes have at least one common element (color, texture, pattern)
Above, color is the common element
Color makes the various sizes of paintings eye-catching, yet balanced
For one common element choose: texture, color, or pattern.
This will to tie the vignette together.
Texture, click here for more on texture:
Be it, rough, smooth, shiny, matte.
Texture will add interest and build up the appeal.
Above, a variety of textures adds interest to this vignette
Pattern: Tiny to large scale prints will add pleasing contrast
Above, the small pattern on the tray contrasts against the large stripes of the rug
and large flowers in the painting.
Color: If you choose color as your common element.
Remember it doesn’t have to be the exact match.
Above a variety of shades of the same color of blue is effective and satisfies your eye.
click here for: #1 Reason to Avoid the Perfect Color match.
3. Match and Match:
Here’s the TWIST to the Rule of Three:
Accessorize with three of the same – no mixing!
This technique works well if you desire a more calming effect.
Consider how the room will be used when planning your decorating and the amount of energy you want to create.
Neutrals and similar textures = harmony (bedrooms, den, reading room)
Bright colors, patterns, and knubby textures = high energy (eg: family rooms, kitchens, game rooms)
For tranquility use items with little contrast in the Rule of Three
4. Layering: click here for more
Layering or staggering is a way to add depth and interest to your decorative triangle.
· The tallest item goes at the back of the display. This will anchor the focal point, click here for more.
· The second-largest item goes to the right or left of the anchor (considered a secondary piece)
· The final item goes in front of the last two pieces (the finishing piece).
Layering above: Tallest piece in the back, then the second tallest, next third,
ending so the smallest is in front
5. Stack ’em up:
Remember when layering everything always looks better in a pile of three.
Don’t limit yourself to only three objects in your vignette.
Create multiple ‘clusters’ or individual groups of items.
Below is ONE CLUSTER - three items, or odd an number of items, nestled together makes a cluster.
Above, one 'cluster' of three items
A ‘cluster’ follows the same criteria as creating a single collection so consider the focal point, various shapes, and the layering in each individual ‘cluster.’
Whether it’s bowls, books, or wood blocks this is a great way to vary the height of an object.
'Clusters' are a more advanced approach, but if you follow the above tips you’ll find success .
This is an effective way to use the Rule of three and odd numbers for a larger area.
'Cluster' 1 = Kate's triptyke shoreline painting is the focal point being the highest 'cluster' and anchors the vignette
'Cluster' 2 = The two chairs and coffee table become three. Notice the use of smooth marble texture of coffee table against ribbed chairs
'Cluster' 3 = three items grouped. Height differences add interest
'Cluster' 4 = Lamp. The symmetry of the three white shades allows the lamp to be secondary to the focal point yet uses the Rule of Three
Cluster 1 = five items grouped. The books also add height.
Cluster 2 = one item ( the largest item. It's placed in the back to create a focal point and anchor.
Cluster 3 = three items grouped together elevated on a riser.
The 'focal point' example from earlier with three clusters noted.
Don't take the Rule of Three too literally.
Match your personality
Use the Rule of Three and odd numbers as a fun way to play with arranging your home.
Overthinking the rule can inhibit what pleases you and your lifestyle.
Remember, the most important thing is creating a look that you love and reflects your personal style and the energy you want to achieve in a room.
Let your home become your haven: a place you can put your feet up and relax.
So go ahead and break the rule of three if needed—you might end up with a more unique and exciting design!