Mastering Home Decor with the Rule of Three

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Learn how to decorate with the rule of three, and add balance and visual interest to your home decor. Follow these easy tips to create a stylish and harmonious space.

*Author’s note: this post features our home on Sutton Place, as well as our current home on Sugar Maple Court. It also features the peonies from my garden at the Sutton Place house…and oh how I miss them!

decorating with rule of 3 vignette on small chest 2024

Today I’m talking about The Rule of Three. Which isn’t really a rule…but more of a system you can use to pull your accessories together in a way that makes sense. So what is the magic number when it comes to arranging your home decor accents?

trio of flower arrangements on coffee table decorating with rule of three

Decorating in threes, or odd numbers, helps you avoid too much symmetry, which can make your rooms look staged and boring. Even though I love symmetry, and could not live without it, too much of it is not a good thing! There are many different ways to incorporate this idea into your home, so use my suggestions as a starting point, and then add your own personal style.

rule of 3 decorating pitchers in center of table


Nothing is easier than lining up three vessels on your table, and then filling them with flowers. The vessels can match or be completely different. In the tablescape above, I used ironstone pitchers that were similar in size, but they do not match. Another idea is to gather three vessels on a tray, and place it in the middle of your table. It’s helpful to keep the vessels low so your guests can see each other across the table. Another classic idea is to use a low floral centerpiece in the middle, and flank it with candlesticks. Our grandmas used this idea, and didn’t even know they were star interior designers!

rule of 3 decorating pitchers on shelves 2024


Styling shelves can sometimes be a challenge, but using the rule of three makes it much easier. Begin by placing three items on each shelf, then stand back and decide what, if anything, needs adjusted. Layering or stacking two items melds them together, and they become one item. To add even more interest, vary the heights of your accessories, and inject a pop of color.

vintage blue mason jars with flowers on round tray decorating with collections

Coffee Tables

There are a million and one ways to style a coffee table…but for me, the easiest thing to do is begin with a tray and go from there. Layering adds depth, and also gives your decor composition a cohesive look. In the picture above, I used three vintage mason jars that are alike, but not matching in size. So even though the jars are different heights, all the flowers are the same, and that is what makes it work. You will never go wrong with a tray topped with three of your favorite treasures!

rule of 3 decorating on foyer chest


When I first started blogging, I had no idea what a vignette even was…I had to look it up! A vignette is simply a grouping of objects that are related in some way. Tabletops are the most obvious place to use vignettes, but they can also be used on mantels and shelves. It’s nice to stick to a theme, but it’s definitely not necessary. Stay true to your own personal style, and use things that tell the story of your family.

In the image above, the rule of three was used three times. 1.) By placing the set of three pillar candleholders close together, they become one unit. 2.) The pitcher on top of the two books becomes one unit as well. 3.) The actual vignette is then comprised of the candleholders, artwork, and stack of books/pitcher.

rule of 3 decor pillows in different sizes on sofa

Throw Pillows and Throws

The rule of three works great for pillows and throws. Use three pillows that are similar in color, but different sizes. Place a throw on the corner of a sofa, add two pillows, and you have the perfect trio of color and texture. This works especially well if you want to add color to a neutral piece of furniture.

traditional dining room rule of 3 decor centerpiece of pitchers

Whenever I read articles on decorating rules, I always wonder where they came from. Who gets to decide what is considered good decorating and what is not? Don’t get me wrong…I have always been a rule-follower, but my philosophy is that your home’s decor should make you smile when you walk in the door. So do what feels right. If your home has a sense of balance and visual depth, you will feel peaceful. Follow the rules, or break them. It’s totally up to you!

floral element 3

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*Affiliate links included. See my disclosure statement. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Sutton Place Dining Room:

table runners | round wicker placemat | chandelier | board and batten | hanging lanterns | botanical prints | dining room rug (in beige/ivory) | fabric on chairs | wicker fishing creel (similar)

*Ironstone on shelves found at flea markets, antique malls, Goodwill, etc.

More Sources:

paint colors for both homes | vintage mason jars | round wood tray | set of 3 wood candleholders | set of 3 pillar candles | farmhouse pitcher (similar) | blue pillow covers on sofa | linen books | round blue and white plates on wall


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  1. Ann, your vignettes are always so lovely. I am a rule follower and when I go to someone’s home I catch myself looking at their displays…as you said sometimes breaking the rules is a different concept that you or I would not have thought of. Thank you for sharing your vignettes with us.

  2. Even us more seasoned gals need this reminder once and awhile.
    I study each example and always get inspired to do some freshening up.

  3. Lanor Kaney says:

    Yours is the only blog I have downloaded on my phone. It’s part of my morning ritual to see what you have posted. Thanks for all the great info on so many topics! You make my day. Lanor

  4. Karen Belcher says:

    Really love your ideas and suggestions! The rule of three makes perfect sense and ends in a beautiful setting! Thanks for sharing all your ideas!

  5. Those pink peonies in the blue mason jars, be still my heart!

  6. Elizabeth Claire says:

    The rule of 3 also works well in the landscape! Thank you for all your inspiration each day!

  7. I like your rule of three. It does make a difference and doesn’t overcrowd the display.

  8. Your illustrations of The Rule of Threes are helpful. I especially liked the sofa pillows arrangement with different sizes and shapes.
    I am a painter and use this rule of three in my compositions.
    Lots of good information in your posts always.

  9. I love how you always adding fresh flowers to your decor!! It always looks so serene .. now I need to remember to pick up flowers when I go to the groceries!

  10. Donna Whitley says:

    This is such good advice. Odd numbers always work better. In larger spaces I use 5 for my rule of thumb. It also works for landscaping.

  11. Donna Fellows says:

    Love all the fresh ideas for changing up my decor. I especially love using Mason jars in a variety of rooms…and all the pretty colors available!
    Thank you for presenting simple, beautiful ways to change our decor that are easy and budget-friendly.

  12. Kathleen Mooney says:

    I used this concept when I decorated my friend’s mantle. Turned out lovely 🥰

  13. I do my best to create vignettes that look appealing to me and hopefully to others. Watching you put things together on your shelves helps me get a visual. I like a nice uncluttered book shelf but also want it to look inviting and create a warm space. Rules work in a balance kind of way…take some seriously but I do think creating a little spin of your own helps to make it special. Great tips.

  14. It’s so funny, I didn’t realize it but I have always practiced this rule of 3. Two not enough, four is two military. Three seems more random and perfect.

  15. Ann, you continue to amaze. All of your decorating tips are elegant but comfortable. Thanks for inspiring the rest of us!

  16. I love this idea! My shelves on my bookcase look so cluttered. I am working on it this week. Most all picture frames and items are now removed… Now for the rule of 3s!
    Thank you for your inspiration!

  17. I use the rule of three also, thank you for your great ideas. Love all your beautiful flowers and how you arranged them with the blue mason jars, I’m a real fan of the blue. THANKS !

  18. Barb'ry Allen says:

    I used to work in a florist shop and everything was done in odd numbers. 1, 3, 5, 7, etc.