The Magic Number: How to Use Rule of Three in Interior Design

Interior DesignIf you ask professional interior designers what’s the one principle they abide by, they’ll most likely say the “rule of three.” The rule is what it sounds like — arranging and grouping design elements in three.

The brain is drawn to odd numbers because they look more natural and dynamic. When applied in interior design, it appears more aesthetically pleasing. Here’s how you can use the rule of three when decorating your space:


When using hues in a room, you should have a 60-30-10 distribution.

  • 60% of the design elements, usually the walls and the floors, will have the dominant color.
  • 30%, which may consist of furnishings, will have the secondary color.
  • 10% are the little details, such as the table centerpiece or wall art, that will have the accents.

Many people go for the usual combos, like black and white, for their dominant and secondary hues. Then they include a bright color, like red or orange, for the accent. You may want to do the same color scheme for your space.


The “feel” of the design elements you use in your space should also follow the rule of three. Play with three different textures, especially if you went for a neutral color scheme. You have many options here, from wood and stone to fabrics and metals. A combination of these will add visual interest to the area. For instance, in bathrooms, you can use vinyl window shutters NJ interior design experts often use, then have marble floors and faux fur rugs to complete the look.

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Furniture Arrangement

Placement of furniture is tricky, but the rule of three should guide you on how you can group stuff with cohesion. In the living room, a large sofa works well with a backdrop of a wall art and a cabinet on its side. This works with lighting fixtures in your bedroom, as well. It doesn’t mean a literal three, but three types of fixtures. You may have an overhead light, a bedside lamp, and then some mood lighting.

The rule of three can make a big difference in the look of your space. Remember this principle as you do your decorating.