The Designer's Power of 3: Color, Texture, Lighting & Decor



You have probably heard this statement before—Always follow the ‘Rule of Three’ when decorating your home. What is this mysterious rule of three and how do we incorporate it into our home?


Most designers will tell you that the rule of three was put into effect due to the fact that an odd number of items look more natural and less forced than an even-numbered grouping. Why is this? Well, mostly because too much symmetry makes a room look stale and cold (although, we all know symmetry plays a huge role in the design, too). Essentially, there is a balance to be found between symmetry and asymmetry.


Power of 3: Color


There is a standard equation that works best when choosing room colors—60, 30, 10. The main room color should be 60%, the secondary color 30%, and the accent color 10%. This ratio can be applied to all interior and exterior colors that you choose for your home. Take the unexpected color trio below in this living room— 60% may be a mocha brown, 30% may be a bold pink colored sofa, and10% could be a forest green painted accent piece of furniture.


If bold color combinations are not for you, then choose three varying shades of the same color for a neutral, more calming room design. Either way, if you follow the rule of three when choosing colors, then you are guaranteed to achieve a room that is well-designed and welcoming.

Power of 3: Texture


Texture is your best design tool if the goal is to make a room feel inviting and comfortable. There’s an infinity of possibilities and ways in which you can layer these textures, combine them with all sorts of materials, colors and patterns. Rugs, throws, pillows, lampshades, frames, window coverings, tabletop decor, and accent walls are all game for textural elements.


Power of 3: Lighting


You cannot escape this rule of three even when it comes to lighting. This doesn’t mean that a room should only have three lights in it, rather it means a room should have three different styles of lighting. Usually, a room should have one overhead light (on a dimmer), numerous lamps on side tables, and then accent lights such as picture lights, or track lighting, or under-cabinet lighting. In the image below, the room has one large overhead lantern, a table lamp, and then accent lighting on the bookshelves. Essentially, most rooms should be lit by one main ambient light, task lighting (via side table lamps and floor lamps), and then accent lights. All of these layered light sources combine to create a balanced room.


Power of 3: Decor


Arranging a tabletop, coffee table, mantel, or bookshelf vignette seems like some mysterious art; an art that only a select few know how to pull off. Luckily, an artful and pleasing vignette can be arranged anywhere in your home by following the simple rule of three. The trio of green plants in the image below works well as it mimics the architectural squares in the ceiling and balances the room in both symmetry and the color palette.


When creating a coffee table arrangement, it is important to consider height, scale, and color. Try to pick three objects or three groupings of objects whose scale and colors go with one another and with the surrounding room. In terms of height, you can mix it up a bit (varying heights add visual interest). If there is a smaller scale item that you would like to add to your grouping but you worry that it is too small, then consider making it appear larger by placing it atop a stack of books or atop a pedestal cake display or tray.


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