As Easy as One, Two, Three

Photo by Castorly Stock on
three rolled towels on bathtub try
Photo by Castorly Stock on

Some people are “left-brain” thinkers and lack the artistic talents for interior decorating.  If you excel with numbers, logic, and reasoning – I have a simple solution to create beautiful rooms. Interior decorators employ the foolproof Rule of Three to create balance, harmony, and attractive décor on any surface including walls, mantels, furniture, and more. 

Our brains are wired to find patterns.  One singular item demonstrates no repetition and can be boring alone, while two items together can be too formal for some.  Three is the smallest number to create a true pattern and according to Feng Shui principles, odd numbers expend and create more energy.  Three is effective, interesting, and memorable. Odd numbers are more pleasing to the eye.

Need a few examples room by room? In the kitchen, designers plan the kitchen triangle for an efficient layout of the refrigerator, stove, and sink, and at the island, we place three stools and hang three pendant lights – and they all do not have to be the exact same – choose three of the same color or material to add more interest.  In the living room, hang three related paintings, place three pillows (but not all the same and with varying sizes) on the couch, and create a relaxing triad of easy chair, end table, and floor lamp. For an appealing tablescape in the dining room, assemble a vignette of three items of different heights, weights, and textures.

Throughout the home, use the 60-30-10 rule for colors in your room. For example, 60% is the dominant color on walls and large furniture, 30% the secondary color on an upholstered chair and wall art, with the remaining 10% for that pop of color with pillows and a couch throw.

So, all you left brainers, give this magic decorating principle a try to create appeal, rhythm, and depth, but use sparingly for more impact. Above all, it’s as easy as one, two, three!

(PS.  You’ll now begin to notice the Rule of Three used in many creative outlets like graphic design, photography, even landscaping.  It is also a popular technique in all types of writing – storytelling, presentations, advertising – using three words, events, characters – to create memorable, humorous, or satisfying content.  Did you spot it 17 times in this blog post?!)

Barbara Graceffa owns and operates Secretary of the Interior in Quincy, MA offering creative solutions at reasonable rates. Learn more about her decorating, downsizing, decluttering and home décor sewing services, decorating workshops, and quilt programs and shows at and enjoy her art quilts on Instagram @secretaryinteriordecorating. You can reach her at 617.921.6033.

By Barbara Graceffa

Barbara Graceffa, CEO of Secretary of the Interior, serves decorating clients; assists with professional organizing, home staging and moving assistance; teaches on these subjects; and delivers quilt lectures and trunk shows.

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