The Interior Design Rule of Three

3 Rules to Live By!

May 26, 2020

Many people feel challenged with how to decorate their homes. Most of the time, they become overwhelmed by decisions or repeated mistakes, which stop them dead in their tracks. Fear no more! Here is a simple secret that will keep you moving forward. The only thing you need to remember is the rule of three. Let’s get started!

1. Color

When you are considering a color palette for a room, think of the rule of three in this way: 60% 30% 10%. Choose colors that you love and work well together. The dominant color will be 60% of the decor and determines the “feel” of the room. Many times this color is more neutral. The secondary color can be a bolder choice and makes up 30% of the decor. This color can largely impact the room with energy and character. The accent color makes up the last 10% of the décor. Accent colors can be found in accessories, pillows, lamps and artwork.  Stick with the 60% 30% 10% rule and you will create a room that is well designed and welcoming.

2. Texture

Many of us peruse decorating magazines in search of inspiration, tearing out the ones that speak to us. Many times we can identify something in the picture we favor like a rug, the accessory on a coffee table, or wall color. But what about those pictures we love but cannot identify because we love everything about the look? Those pictures are the ones that exude warmth. What does that mean? The warmth we feel when we see good design is due to the layering of materials. Combining different textures like wood, fabric, metal, and greenery creates a warm and inviting aesthetic. Now it’s time to take inventory of your rooms. Have you combined the four elements? What are you missing? It could be as simple as adding a layer.

3. Fabrics

The rule of three applies to fabric choices as well. It’s simple. Combining fabrics based on color, pattern and texture will help create a beautiful no-fail design every time. Just look at the three fabric choices below. There are three colors (navy blue, tan, and white); three patterns (floral, solid, and geometric); and three neatly arranged pillows to balance out the entire look. We loved doing this master bedroom project for our client!

4. Lighting

Lighting can make a huge difference in how you feel about your home. It adds beauty and drama and creates a cozy and relaxing atmosphere. One of the first comments we hear from our clients after we finish designing a room is, “I never realized lighting could make such a difference!” And they are right!


Lighting, or lack thereof, can be the difference between good and bad design. Here are three words to keep in mind: general, task and accent.

  • General – This type of lighting provides an area with overall illumination. Chandeliers, ceiling fixtures, and recessed lights fall into this category and are fundamental to a lighting plan.
  • Task – This type of lighting is the best way to add light and decoration to any room. It helps you accomplish a certain task such as reading a book, preparing food in the kitchen or working at your desk. Lamps, under cabinet lights, and pendants are good examples. This type of lighting should be free of glare and shadows.
  • Accent – This type of lighting adds visual interest to a room. In many designs it is used to spotlight a painting, sculpture, textured wall, or outdoor landscaping and is just another way to add warmth and interest to a well decorated home.

Now that you are equipped with the rule of three, take a walk around your home. Stop, look and count. It may be as simple as adding a few layers. Contact us for help! 

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