What is the Rule of Three in Interior Design?

rule of three interior design

The Rule of Three is a design principle that simply says: things look better in groups of three. The brain seems to like odd numbers. It finds them more visually appealing. Other odd numbers, like five or seven or nine, can work just as well. One can also work, but in some cases having just one of something can leave the space feeling a bit empty or dull.

But three? Three really sits in that just-right goldilocks zone, just like the Earth.

Of course, there are plenty of times when even numbers work better than odd numbers. Two bedside tables or six dining chairs, for example. And it’s totally fine if you prefer perfect symmetry in general.

Read on to explore a few ways you can apply the Rule of Three in your home.


Cushions & Throws

interior design rule of three

Scatter cushions and throw rugs offer an easy and affordable way to experiment with the Rule of Three.

Try putting two cushions at one end of the sofa, and one cushion at the other. Or two cushions at one end and a throw at the other.

Choose cushions in different colours or patterns that work well together, rather than matching ones.


Pendant Lights

Unlike cushions, it’s usually better to match your pendant lights.

You’ve likely seen a lot of photos of gorgeous kitchens with three identical pendant lights hung above an island or bar counter.

This kind of lighting installation is popular for a reason. It’s practical, providing plenty of illumination as you work in the kitchen, and it’s also very pleasing on the eye.

rule of three interior design

Shop Pendant Lights from Amonson Lighting online at Zanui.

For something different, you could also try hanging a cluster of three pendant lights at alternating heights. This look works best with simple glass pendant lights in a spherical or teardrop shape.

A pendant light cluster will make a great overhead feature in your dining room, foyer, living room, or anywhere you want to make a statement.



interior design rule of three vignette

They’re not just for displaying flowers. Vases look just as great empty as they do filled, even more so when they’re clustered together in a cute little vignette.

Place a trio of vases atop your console table, mantelpiece or really any surface you feel needs a little decoration.

The vases can be different shapes and heights but have similar finishes (all white or all glass, for example), or they can all be completely different.

If your vases are the same size, try positioning one or two of them atop a book or a coaster or something similar, just to create that little bit of height variation.


Bar Stools

interior design rule of three bar stools

This is another case where three of a kind works best.

Three bar stools at a counter creates an inviting and casual look, perfect for enjoying breakfast or light meals and drinks with family and guests.

If you have a large enough counter, you might even be able to try five bar stools, as long as there’s enough space for people to sit comfortably.


Wall Art

triptych wall art rule of three

Shop Wall Art from Urban Road online at Zanui.

A triptych is a type of artwork divided into three panels. Each panel can work just as well on its own as it does in concert with the other two. In traditional art, the middle panel would usually be larger than the two side panels, but in modern art each print is typically the same size.

Instead of having one standalone art piece, you can triple the impact by hanging three artworks from the same series side by side by side.

Click here to learn more about how to choose the right artwork for your home.


Elizabeth is a digital content writer and copy editor from Sydney, Australia, with a degree in Media & Communications from the University of New South Wales. When she isn't writing for Zanui, she's usually attempting further study, burying her head in a novel (or writing her own), pestering her cat, or desperately trying to keep her small potted succulent alive.