Designers explain how to use the rule of three to create a stunning color scheme

All good things come in threes – especially when used in home design

Rule of three design tips, natural color scheme
(Image credit: Future / Paul Raeside)

The holy trinity of interior design is having a fresh upgrade throughout the season of organic beauty. As we enjoy rich organic hues flourish beyond our four walls, we're invariably looking for ways to bring natural shades into our modern homes

The secret – according to the experts – is through the rule of three. Their clever insight teaches us to celebrate the raw beauty of the season by making sophisticated color choices that work effortlessly throughout our interiors. Of course it will look great, it's all in the maths, after all. 

Rule of three design tips:

Expert rule of three design tips for the natural season

(Image credit: Future / Katya de Grunwald)

According to Rina Patel, interior designer and founder, Vastu Interior Design, we should begin by drawing inspiration from nature. 

'Landscapes, pebbles on a bench, or bold peacock features can provide the stimulus you need,' she shares. 

'From this, focus on three colors – two which contrast and a more neutral shade. The tonal color can be used as a base for the room with the bolder hues creating focal points through accessories, such as lampshades.'

Using this ingenious color technique creates a seamless design scheme – so you can be more daring in your color matches, but keep your home stylish through a simple system. The rule suggests that colors arranged in odd numbers (especially 3) are more aesthetically pleasing and, consequently, more memorable. Plus, while this is the rule of three, experts sometimes branch to other odd numbers, which provoke the same effect. 

Which natural shades do the designers recommend?

Expert rule of three design tips for the natural season

(Image credit: Future)

Knowing how to use the colors is one thing, but choosing these shades is another. When searching for natural hues, Jen and Mar, the duo behind Interior Fox, suggests going back to basics and choosing a palette that is instantly associable with nature: green and blue. 

'Green and blue is a winning combination and one we as interior designers use as our neutral base. They are closely connected on the color wheel, so it's easy to introduce the two tones to create the illusion of more color without overpowering a space. Fresh, earthy, and completely versatile, you can't go wrong with green and blue,' they emphasize.

Expert rule of three design tips for the natural season

(Image credit: Future)

See: Best green paint for interior and exterior walls - an expert guide to making the right color choice

The designer duo then offers their tips for bringing these shades into our scheme, suggesting we 'tone up or down depending on the desired outcome.'

'For a calming effect, opt for lighter colors offset by natural finishes, or for a more sumptuous scheme, choose much darker shades. We find that darker hues add more shadows and different tones when the light hits and make the perfect backdrop for brass accents,' Jen and Mar add.

How should we use these earthy colors in our homes?

It is perhaps no coincidence that Etsy similarly named Sky Blue as their Color of the Year for 2021, and there is no better time to experiment with this shade than the present. Lucy Ackroyd, Head of Design at Christy, suggests injecting blue, and other raw colors 'in the form of cushions and throws'

Expert rule of three design tips for the natural season

(Image credit: Future / Simon Bevan)

See: Interior designers give their top tips for introducing the biophilic design movement into your home

'Keep the rest of the room minimal and white and weave in natural fabrics, such as jute and rattan, to create an organic, calming ambiance,' she explains.

'In feng shui, blue is considered a peaceful tone that promotes relaxation and healing, so it's the perfect shade for spaces you truly want to unwind in, such as your bedroom or living room,' Lucy adds.

While rules are made to be broken, the rule of three is one rule we're certainly going to follow by the book. We can't really argue with the experts, can we?

Megan Slack

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team.

Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US whilst studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site.

Megan currently lives in London, where she relocated from her hometown in Yorkshire. In her home, she experiments with interior design trends and draws inspiration from the home decor ideas she observes in her everyday work life. Her favorite pieces include her antique typewriter and her expansive collection of houseplants. When she isn’t writing, she is browsing London’s coffee shops and bookstores to add to her ever-growing library, taking over the open shelving in her apartment.