When it comes to interior design colour schemes, textiles, furniture, and the arrangement of decorative items, three is the magic number. Odd numbers create balance and distinguishable patterns that provide effective visual appeal, more so than even-numbered groupings. This is why the rule of three in interior design is so widely used. In fact, this universal principle holds weight in all aspects of design, including photography, graphic design, fashion, painting, and even gardening. So if you are planning to redecorate your home or revamp a property to sell or rent out, stick to this simple rule of thumb and you’ll be onto a winner.


To create a balanced and harmonious colour scheme in your home, it’s best to focus on three main colours for your walls and woodwork, flooring, furniture, soft furnishings, and decorative items. You can, of course, adjust this as you see fit. Generally, however, it is best to apply the 60-30-10 colour concept:

60% – Your main colour will be applied to 60% of the room (walls, large area rugs), serving as a backdrop to the space.

30% – Your secondary colour will be used in approximately 30% of the space, perhaps on the woodwork, a statement wall, curtains, accent chairs, bed linen, etc. This will support and compliment the main colour.

10% – The remaining 10% will be used as an accent colour. This may include cushions, throws, artwork, and decorative objects. The accent colour is often the boldest of the three and pulls everything together to create a a room that is well balanced, cohesive and visually interesting.

Choosing just two colours or tones can make a room feel flat and unfinished. Adding a third colour to the space makes it feel complete and fully dimensional. If you like whites and neutrals, you could do three shades of one colour. If you require more flexibility than three, choose an additional shades from one of your other three colours to maintain a balanced spectrum. This can work really well if you adhere as closely as possible to the 60-30-10 ratio.

Furniture and decorative items

Do you ever look at any area of a room and think “something just isn’t right”? Oftentimes, it’s simply because the balance is off. Play around with your furniture and decorative accessories, moving them around the space. Rearrange objects into groups of three to alter the flow and aesthetic, finding a balance between symmetry and asymmetry.


When arranging items on tabletops, cabinets and other surfaces, for example, choose three objects of varying heights and form them in a triangle shape. Place three matching tea lights, small lanterns or bud vases in a row in the centre of the surface, or place them off centre with a cluster of three objects of varying heights at the other end of the surface.

For kitchen and dining tables, one distinctive item in the centre is perfect – a vase or bowl of flowers or a large candle. If it’s a rectangular table, you could even do a row of three items of the same height or a larger item in the middle with a lower height object on either side.

Hanging artwork

Hanging artwork in pairs doesn’t work as well as grouping them together in odd numbers, such as three, five, seven, etc. We should aim for a ‘collection’, rather than a ‘couple’. Sometimes, however, you can get away with arranging four or six pieces of equal size in a row or square/rectangular shape. It can take some time and a few attempts to get it right, but that’s okay. It’s all about experimenting with your creativity to determine what you like and what works best in your space.

When it comes to hanging paintings and prints, most galleries will place their artwork at an eye level of about 58” high. This means that the centre of the piece – not the top – should be around 58” off the ground. Of course, we’re all different heights, which is why it’s good to have a general rule such as this to follow. You may, however, wish to create a wall of art, in which case you will have pictures hanging at varying heights. Some larger paintings can look fabulous just sitting on the floor leaning against a wall.

Clyde Property is a leading independent, multiple award winning estate and letting agent with 30 years’ experience in selling and letting property in Scotland. Just call your local Clyde Property branch today, for friendly, impartial advice on finding your next dream home.