I’m not sure who thought up that old adage: “two’s company, three’s a crowd”, but I must say I’ve never agreed with the statement. Three is a wonderful number, a lucky number, with lots of benefits if you stop and think about it for a minute or two (or three):
- There are three primary colours
- Three is the smallest possible number required to make up a pattern (true fact)
- Many short lists come in threes, like characters in fairytales, and book series, and film trilogies, etc.
- Three is the magical number of lines used in traditional classical painting – horizontally and vertically – to create sections that help draw our eye effectively around the scene.
- Three is the number of children I have (just throwing that one in there)
I’ve done a bit of research into this, and it seems the numerological concept of three is that it signifies abundance, creativity and charisma: see how even the trait is split into three?
For me, this most holy trinity of numbers simply feels right, especially when it comes to home styling, where three is positively sparkling with magical properties.
Take pillows. Everyone – yes, everyone – has a personal way of arranging cushions, even if they don’t realise it. Ask anyone and I bet you they’ll come up with a response as to how they do it, from pedantic arranger (“I place four blue cushions and two striped cushions on either side of a large green one”) to carefree plumper (“I chuck some down and walk off”).
Me, I tend to arrange my cushions according to the mood of the day or the light in the room but I’ll let you into a secret: I always use odd numbers, very often three. Two at each end and two in the middle? Yuk, no thanks. And it’s funny because I’ve always thought it was just me who had an aversion to equal figures, but in fact lots of us do, and there are several reasons as to why our brains prefer odd numbers, especially threes.
It seems to be to do with the way our eye takes in groups of objects. Two might seem pleasingly symmetrical, but a group of three allows the eye to move around more freely, instantly creating a memorable image. A two-tone scheme can feel overly stylised: add a third colour and the space becomes complete.
Here, then, are my top three tips for trio styling:
1 Use triangular positioning to encourage the eye to move around a group of objects: have a go at reducing the coffee table jumble down to three key items, say a vase of flowers, a fruit bowl and a napkin-holder. See how you’ve also instantly decluttered the room? Magic!
2 Introduce a third tall object to break up the formality of a low pair (like a tallboy with two side tables) to give a relaxed feel in chill-out spaces like bedrooms and sitting rooms.
3 Take the trio theme right through your styling, for example picking out three cushions in three different patterns, to really emphasise the triptych idea.
So next time you’re about to neatly plump those four book-end scatter cushions, I dare you to whip one away and see how you get on with just three. Less (well, three) really is more.
Lots of love,
KateP.S. As a Halloween treat for getting to the end of this blog post, for a limited time I'd like to offer a free cushion cover for every two you buy. Enter code TREAT3FOR2 at checkout between 9am October 30th - Midnight (London GMT) November 3rd. Happy Shopping!