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3 golden rules of interior design

3 golden rules

If you are overwhelmed by the idea of redecorating, these golden rules are the starting point you need

Interior design is a very personal process, and discovering the best look for a space is all about understanding your own individual tastes and preferences. However, one thing we can all agree on is that going back to basics can be extremely beneficial. That’s why we’ve put together these golden rules of design to give you the perfect starting point.

These golden rules will completely transform the way you tackle interior design, giving you enough confidence in your ability to create cosy, creative and attractive rooms for you and your family to enjoy. Let’s take a look at the three interior design rules that weren’t made to be broken.

The rule of threes

The rule of threes is a great concept because it works on every scale from larger items of furniture to the smallest knick-knacks. It can help you create spaces which are interesting and homely without feeling cluttered. It may seem strange but you’ll notice that odd-numbered groupings of accessories tend to create more visual interest than even numbered pairings, which can look too orderly and clinical.

So why three? Why not one, five or seven instead? Well, while one can often feel too simplistic, anything more than three risks making your space look overly cluttered and untidy.

When choosing items to group together, make sure they are different enough to be interesting but similar enough to be tied together in some way. One way to achieve this is to pick items in different shapes with a unifying colour, or vice versa.

3/3 vertical rule

The 3/3 vertical is all about the way you display light and shade in your spaces. The concept was first introduced by renowned designer Mark McCauley in his book ‘Colour Therapy at Home: Real-Life Solutions for Adding Colour to Your Life’.

As is the case with many of the best interior design rules, the 3/3 vertical rule takes its inspiration from nature and tries to replicate it in a domestic setting. The idea essentially boils down to this: in nature, light and tone generally change depending on whether they are near the ground, the sky or in between. Darker colours tend to be found towards the ground (dark grass, mud, stones) while medium tones are in the middle (trees and plant-life) and the lightest tones are more common higher up (the sky).

With this in mind, McCauley argues that elegant interior design works in much the same way — darker tones lower down, getting progressively lighter the higher up you go. This can be a helpful starting point, and works for both colourful and monochromatic designs.


The 10-30-60 is there to help you determine what roles your different colour choices will play in your space. To start with, you need to choose a dominant shade, a secondary shade and an accent colour. Your dominant shade should take up around 60% of the space, while your secondary colour should take up 30% and your accent colour around 10%.

Since your dominant colour plays the biggest role in your design, it should probably be your most neutral choice, forming a nice basis for your wall and floor coverings. Your secondary shade can be slightly bolder — a shade that works well on your furniture fabrics — whilst your accent colour can be as bright and bold as you like, and will predominately be used for your soft furnishings and accessories.

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