Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Rule of Three and Thirds: Design, Architecture, and Photography

A friend of mine is a phenomenal photographer, you can see her work over at Stefanie Photography .  We have worked together on a few projects.  If you follow my blog, you know I style photo shoots, and provide design consultation, among other things. The rule of three can be seen in the picture below.  Please note, the rule of THREE is not the same thing as the rule of THIRDS.  I will dissect both for you later on. Just stay with me.

Photo by Stefanie Photography, Styled by Evey's Creations

I recently explained to her the rule of three.We were working on a back to school photo shoot and she asked how I made it look so "easy" when styling or setting up a tablescape.  I told her it pretty much is easy when you follow the rule of Three.

The rule of three in design and architecture is quite simple.  When styling or designing something, (a tablescape, a building, a living room, etc) group items in either threes or odd numbers.  Take a look at the picture above, for example.  The cake is surrounded by a set of napkins and ribbon on either side, it is grouped into three.  To the left, there is another group of three items: the jar with marshmallows, the cups and plates.  To the right, yet another set of threes.  Also, the two paper fans are grouped into a three with the cake in front of them.  There are also, if you look at the picture, triangles present in almost every group of three.

Photo by Stefanie Photography, Styled by Evey's Creations

Photographers, the rule of three works in photoshoots that have a theme to them. To disambiguate, the rule of THIRDS "is not about the number [of items or groups], it is about placement of the focal point in the frame" as my other INCREDIBLY talented photog friend, Aneta of Yellow Lollipop Photography pointed out to me.  

photo by Charlotte of  Ciburbanity
 Do you see it!? If you draw a grid, the sweet, gorgeous baby is sitting right in the third of the placement of the photo! Divide the picture up mentally for me, will you? Divide it into thirds both horizontally and vertically. She's off center. Her face is a perfect third. :) She's also perfect. 

Now back to design! The rule of THREE, is just what I mentioned before! Grouping items into threes or odd numbers. Let's look at some examples of that, yes?

photo by Yellow Lollipop Photography, styled by Evey's Creations
 As you can see, almost every shelf, has clusters of three in it. They also just about all make triangles.

From my Christmas mantel

From my Valentine's Day Mantel

Almost every mantel I've done, contains the rule of threes. Notice the three jars? Notice the two bottles and the candle? That makes three.

Picture by Charlotte of Ciburbanity
Charlotte uses three books just as I did in the Back to School photoshoot. 
Picture by Charlotte of Ciburbanity
She also uses three soda bottles.

Source: Country Living
Here, you can see three gourds, three candles, the center jar and the two sets on either side also make a set of three.  All threes.  All triangles. All odd numbers.

As you can see, the rule of three is prevalent in home decor! You, too, can make your home look like it was professionally done by implementing this rule! It's very simple! Group something on a coffee table into threes, and you are good to go! You're welcomed! 


Owner/Creator, Evey's Creations

Tel: 201-281-6696
Twitter: @EveysCreations
Instagram: @EveysCreations


  1. Didn't know we can apply the rule of thirds to decorations! I only use it for photos. Thanks so much for this helpful tip! :)

  2. Great tips, Evey! Thanks for sharing them!


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