28 August 2008

Do You Know the 3+1 Decorating Trick?

If so, you're probably one of those real designer-type people with diplomas or certificates and such.

If not, maybe you're like me and have done this instinctively because it looks right to your eye and doesn't require much thinking. I like that.

Or maybe you have no ding-dong idea what I'm talking about and you'll have a new trick up your sleeve after today.

The 3+1 decorating trick is something that I've always done without thinking and just recently found out is a real-deal decorating principal. It's a way to create balance in a display without having symmetry. The idea is that the visual weight of one large object can balance the visual weight of three smaller objects. It works REALLY well on a mantel. But it works other places too.


Like here. Three heavy candlesticks balance the one stick-filled jar.

Or here. Three candles balance one red urn.



It works on the wall too. Three white plates and one black birdcage.




How about this one? Three candleholder/jar thingys balance one BIG pineapple.

This is starting to feel a little like Sesame Street for decorators. Come on, everybody! Put on your best Grover voice and say it with me.



THIS IS NEAR!!!




AND THIS IS FAR!!!

I just realized that all of my arrangements have the one on the left and the three on the right. Hmmmmmmm... I wonder if that means something subconsciously? Regardless, it works the other way too.



post signature

52 comments {Click here to leave a comment}:

joelandbecca said...

Good lesson! Once upon a time I learned that stuff, but needed that refresher...and ha ha love the near and far! You are too fun!

Cherry's Jubilee said...

Yep..I have always done that instinctively... I didn't know it was a real lesson ...other than the odd number is better than a even. Love your displays! Uhhh got to say you reminded me a bit of Julie Andrews from Sound of Music...giggle giggle. cherry

Jennifer P. said...

I actually DO know that rule---but, like you found out, it can be learned on your own!

Love your near and far trick :)!

Lacey in the Sky said...

Ha, who knew? I do that too! And I also do one on the left, three on the right! I didn't notice either until I read your post and looked around the room I'm sitting in. Weird.

Darlene said...

Thanks Kimba...for those of us that are struggling to figure out how to place items, it is a great rule. I always have a hard time with what to group together, whereas several of you favorites of mine have beautiful eye pleasing arrangements. Thanks for the lesson.

Brown-Eyes said...

I do like odd numbers of objects but hadn't heard of the 3+1 rule. Hmmm, I'm going to go check out my rooms and see if I have it right.
Cheers ;-) Bo

Michelle said...

Thanks for sharing, I have always heard you are supposed to have 3 things and for me this never seems to work. I can't wait to try the balancing act with the 4th larger object.

Take Care
Michelle

This simple Life said...

I always do one on the left and three on the right. Are you right handed by chance?

Melissa Wertz said...

I need help.

duchess said...

You are so funny. Now, tell the truth - did you feel silly out there taking a far off picture just for your blog??

The things we do for our addiction.
Love the 3+1 plan BTW.

Gray Matters said...

That's great to know - I love symmetry and my husband prefers a more organic, asymmetrical look - this may be the perfect compromise. You may have just saved our marriage - or at least helped me make my husband a little happier. Thanks!

sarah @ a beach cottage said...

oh, it's like a real lesson, well that's cheered me up, I already knew that, hee hee

love your displays especially the first one

Lauren said...

I feel like I learn something from you everyday! Thank you. And soon I will get a pic to you of my chair rehab.

Rambling Girl said...

Thanks for designer 101...I am looking forward to learning more things. WOW who would have thought I could learn all this from blogging. I am so escited about all the new things I have learned in one week. Ok don't think I am that sheltered but this designing is more fun than I imagined it could be. Thanks Kimba!!!

Pajama Mama said...

thanks, Kimba! I've been aware of and use the odd number rule without even thinking, but I'll have to look around my house and see if I've balanced them with a single large object...Thanks for the tip,

-kristen

Mrs. Trixi said...

I have always heard that you need to do things in threes, so I think you definitely have that rule down.LOL
I love your hearth. I haven't done anything with mine yet, mainly because I am still thinking about painting the brick.

Marie said...

I'm still laughing over NEAR and FAR! That's funny. :o)

I know NO designer tricks. Well, I know the 3+1 trick now. ha ha But I think I may have done a little of that without knowing I was doing it right... I'm not a big fan of matchy-matchy symetry. Thanks for the tip!!

Stacey @ The Blessed Nest said...

Loved seeing your different displays!!

Blessings,
Stacey

Jo - To a Pretty Life said...

Thanks for sharing this tip! I'm sure the next time I'm arranging something I will think of it and love the result.

nikkicrumpet said...

I love the tip...but the last part made me LAUGH HARD...and I'm at work dang it...people are staring at me now...everyone wave to the people who think I'm nuts!

Cindy said...

You have such good tips, ideas, posts, etc. I've been lurking for a long time and felt the need today to comment - I enjoy your blog so much, if it's an addiction - it's a good one. I had always known decorating(?) was looked better in threes - I can see the 3 + 1 theory is a great trick/idea! Thanks again!

rose said...

Oh my you had me rolling!! I love your tips!!

Tausha said...

i am with you on whole certificate thing. I don't have one, unless you count the one that I made myself with glitter and stickers. It hangs proudly in my craft room.
I love the 3 1 rule. I am with you-just looks better. I try to do something different, never works. I do try to spice it up a bit and switch sides. I am such a rebel.

Imperfect said...

I saw this concept in a magazine I was browsing through at a store and put it to work in our new place. I tend to put my 3 on the left side though.

Jennifer said...

thanks or the tip! i have a strong tendency to make everything too symetrical!

have a great day!

Nikki said...

Nice to know! I do this too.

Ashley said...

Great tip! Before I start working on arranging I think I need to actually put some sticks in all of my empty urns. I am thinking of 4 right off the top of my head without going around my house to count. I think I need to visit Hobby Lobby soon.

a day in the life of bella said...

I just love Grover ;)

I am not sure I do the 3+1 thing, maybe I do or have....but I just think I have a good eye for symmetry...even if I can't spell it.

I was thinking that I would really love to start a 'home staging' business. I would not even charge much, I was thinking just $50, is that cheap or what? But I was thinking I have zilch, nada, zip in credentials or referrals....just years of practicing on my own house and selling 2 of my own homes, too. I guess that is why I would have to be so bargain basement cheap...w/o any initials after my name, I am like the Dollar Tree of decorators, lol ;) But I guess if I ever got it going and did well, than I could raise my rates ;)

Your vignettes are pretty !!!

Bella

Dawn@Embracing the Ordinary Life said...

Great tip!!

Dreaming of Mermaids said...

hehehe now I am looking around my house to see how often I do that without knowing the rules. lovely!

tales from an O.C. cottage said...

Great info, Grover!!!

M ^..^

Mrs. B said...

What a great tip! Now I'm going to have to walk around and see if I've actually used it anywhere. Probably not, so then I'll have to move things around and try it out!

"This comment has been brought to you by the letter B"

anne said...

haa... good one. A great reminder to me as I'm currently working on re-working our Master Bedroom...on a $0 budget...better get creative. I'd love some insights from you...so hop on over if you get a chance.
www.justinandanne.blogspot.com

Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates said...

I did not know that! Thanks for teaching us. I see that I have 3's all over the place, but not 3+1, which would be much better.

And thank you for the Sesame Street lesson! :)

Carrie said...

I do the samething I am glad to know I am doing something right! lol

Susie Harris said...

Gahhh I loved that show. I always wanted to see down in that trash can???? Go figure! I have always tried to think of that when placing things about. Didnt know the fancy term for it. Guess now we can be like real design ladies...hehe!

Jen - Balancing beauty and bedlam said...

Yep, you're right, had no clue it was a real rule. But so willing to pretend I am one of those decorating types with a certificate now that I can use the "verbage."

Buzzings of a Queen Bee! said...

That is funny...I had not heard of that rule, but you are right, you start looking around your house and, low and behold, the trick is everywhere! :) I love the rehabbed rehab project...looks great in brown!
-Carrie

Wendy said...

I too have done that instinctively. As I read your post, I thought of different dispalys around my house and yes...they're all 3 and 1. Funny!!!

Cassie said...

I just love all your decorating tips! And I was so proud yesterday when I ventured into my first revamp with spray paint!!

aunties said...

Great lesson and thank goodness it does come instinctively... But is great for a refresher course!You home is beautiful.
Blessings, Beth

HeathahLee said...

I did not know that but I'm now glad I do.

Stephanie said...

I fall into the "had no idea" category, I guess! But, I love learning about this stuff! Your blog has helped so much!

Shelia said...

Hi Kimba. Yep, that's some good stuff you're saying. You've been decorating for fall and I'm trying to get my stuff out and now I have a mess!
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

Sandy said...

Hey, thanks for visiting me and so fun to visit you. I do, indeed, put that rule in place when decorating. It's easy once you get it down.
Thanks again for your heartfelt message.
Sandy

Traci said...

Fun post. And I'm one who didn't know that this was actually a "rule" until this post, lol. I knew it looked nice but I never knew why.

Angela said...

Look at you, cutie-pie! Nice to see you for once. :)

I do this in my paintings, without thinking. There is always this giant thing off to the side with all the little things around it. Make me stop!!! But it just soothes me.

The Newbie said...

Thanks for the 3-1 lesson. I couldn't remember how it went exactly. Looks like I have some switching around to do!

Hooked on Houses said...

Near and far! Too funny.

This is really a good decorating principle to point out. I bet a lot of people have done it without realizing it. You've got me looking around my house to spot the same thing at work here. -Julia

angie said...

Looks like you have the 3 in 1 down. I've been trying to do things "right", too! :)

blessedme said...

I always love coming to your blog, you have the cutest ideas!

Lana said...

Great lesson! I will definately have to remember this when I begin decorating my house! Thanks!