Friday, February 15, 2008

Decorating 101

I am going to use this display for our Decorating 101 lesson today on the Rule of Three and Visual Weight.

The Rule of Three: Other than the occasional pair of lamps or candle sticks, try to group an odd-number of items together. Start with 3. If the space is large, or the items small, try 5. If I had wanted to add more large pieces to this arrangement, I would have tried two more. Because the books under the wagon were a 'set' of their own, I went with three. (I often use books as a decorating element. We'll cover that later. I promise.) If you are taking notes: When grouping items, odd numbers almost always look better.

Just to confuse things, I don't always count something hanging on the wall as part of a grouping, but because the metal star was large and somewhat three-dimensional, it worked in this instance.

Visual Weight: Try to group items that have a similar 'visual weight.' Don't put a wimpy candle stick next to a huge potted plant. Notice that the large items in the arrangement above do not dwarf the armoir nor make it feel top-heavy. I specifically placed them on a sturdy, not-so-tall cabinet with plenty of surface room (wouldn't want the arrangement squished up at the ceiling or appearing to fall off). Alternately, this cabinet might look a little silly with three small figurines place on top. The term visual weight is used rather than size because a large clear glass vase packs much less impact than a bright red clay pot of the same dimensions.

I'll throw in a lesson on Complimentary Style for free. (Oh, wait. Everything here is free. And you get what you pay for.) I chose three items with a weathered, outdoor style. You don't have to have a theme (although I'm all about themes which we'll cover later...), but try to pair items that have a similar feel.

Following are a few more examples:

Three very simple white pots of grass. All the same size. Not too big or small for the shelf. Notice that the circle shape of the white pots is repeated in the collage. There are five circles across the collage. Lots of symmetry going on here. The colors in the books, pots of grass, and collage compliment each other:

Three large black and white photographs fill the wall space in the hallway:

Three cork board squares fill a vertical space in the bedroom. Notice each square has three items tacked to it:
For a bit more advanced example, we start with three items: an old kitchen scale, a glass pitcher with what used to be three green apples (one of the boys got hungry), and a pot of grass on a stack of three books (I consider them one item for this particular grouping). [If I had any desire to critique my own display, the pitcher of two or three apples needs a little more visual weight to balance the grass and books, though I could easily remove the books.]
Next, we'll add two candle sticks. (We're up to five.) Usually I will put a taller item in the middle, but I wanted the silhouettes to be the focal point. For this display, they are their own grouping of three, especially gathered within the wooden frame. Do you see how the tall lamps balance with the verticle lines of the silhouette grouping? The lamps and silhouette grouping form their own three-some.

Have I completely confused you yet? Is any of this helpful? I promise to get better with practice! We have lots of design tips and projects coming up, including hanging items on walls and essential decorating supplies. Any other specific requests?
Disclaimer: You will catch me breaking my own rules over and over again. Sometimes it is a deliberate choice (a reason that might fall under Decorating 201), but often I am lazy, distracted, ill, or careless. Or one of my boys somehow destroyed an element of my decor and I had to improvise.

Group three items (or five, or seven....) on your spot for beauty and send me a picture! Start simply. It is okay if it isn't perfect. We'll have lots more practice and tips over the next few months.


Barb said...

I've heard the rule of three/odds before so my question is: if I'm doing a silhouette of my 4 kids...should I get rid of one of them, or get my husband so we can add a 5 to the display!;O

Sarah at SmallWorld said...

You know, I'm not sure I ever KNEW the rule of 3 before, but as I was going through "surfaces" in my house, I realized (with a sign of relief), that I for the most part have incorporated this. Must have been lodged in my memory somewhere, or maybe just instinctive. Last night I was looking at my mantle and thinking: I need to send this photo to Heidi and ask her what I can do new with this!

Unknown said...

Thanks, Heidi! :)

Janet said...

Came over via Quiet Life. I love your style of decorating and thanks for the tips. Very nice!

Donna Boucher said...

I will do a more official link to your site tomorrow Heidi! I thought my comment would come right after yours today...
But I really like your style and want to send more readers your way.

Janet is a good blog hopper ;o)

She is my sister.

Ever since I told everyone about Ree....they believe me when I tell them someone is good :o)

Heidi said...

I Was Just Thinking~ LOL! Please don't get rid of one of your kids. :) I think 4 silhouettes in a square shape would look nice together. The three things isn't an unbreakable rule. What you could do is form a square with the silhouettes as a single focal point or hang or place items on either side to make a trio.

Maybe I'll post a drawing or example for you if you're interested.

Smallworld~ It was probably instinctive. :) Send me a picture of your mantle and I'll see what I can do...

Caralyn~ You're very welcome. I hope something helps!

Janet~ Thank you so much! I'm glad you stopped by.

Donna~ I appreciated the comment on your blog! You are so encouraging. :) Thanks for the compliments. (I don't come anywhere close to Ree...I love the blog Tongue in Cheek that you recommended a little while ago. My sister had sent me that direction just before you linked her. I loved her romantic set-up!)

Anonymous said...

Wow Heidi...what a beautiful family, home, and blog! Thanks for visiting my blog, had you not- I would have missed out on seeing the wonderful decorating advice you've posted on yours. Can't wait to find more time and really check it out!

Anonymous said...

This is great, Heidi! I am seriously "design-challenged", and I don't have a lot of time to work on it, so I really love the "bite-size" tips that I can remember and practice. I love your sense of style! Will you come decorate my house? 8-)

Denise in IN

momto4boys said...

I love these "rules", I just am not so good at keeping up with them...Your ideas are so inspiring and I plan to incorporate these in my redecorating (whenever that happens) I love the circle art and the grass in the wagon idea and of course the large photos in your entry are fantastic, that is one I will do for sure!!! i have 4 kids but the youngest are twins so I can still get away with the "3 things rule" I am really excited to have found you and can't wait to come back and see more.