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What Is the Rule of Thirds, and How Can You Use It in Your Home?

A flower vase sitting on a table according to the rule of thirds.

If you’re designing or decorating your first home, it can feel overwhelming. Luckily, there are some easy visual tips and tricks that can help you get started, and one of these is the rule of thirds.

The rule of thirds is a method of composition in photography in which an image is divided into a three-by-three grid, with two horizontal and two vertical lines intersecting to create different frames. You want the most important subjects in your image to be located where the lines intersect. Check out the image below or turn on the grid feature on your cell phone camera to see the grid.

Using the grid on your phone, you can check the overall balance of your space. For example, if a fireplace is the center of your grid, the frames will help you see if you have too much furniture on one side that throws off the balance.

The frames can also help with proportions. When hanging art, you can use the grid to determine whether a piece is too large compared to those in another section. You can also use the grid to position larger pieces of art. If one falls into more than one frame, you can balance it out by placing multiple smaller items in adjoining sections.

The rule of thirds gird.
Using the rule of thirds grid, you would position your main pieces where the yellow circles are. Mikhail Gnatuyk/Shutterstock.com

“The rule of thirds can be an effective tool in creating or checking for balance in design,” said Mindy Kelson O’Connor, interior designer. “You can use the grid lines as a means to establish or edit your proportions, and define the arrangement of a spatial composition, especially when thinking about views—looking inside and out.”

Dividing rooms into a three-by-three grid isn’t the only way you can use the rule, though. It can also be used when placing accessories in your home. To keep spaces from looking too balanced, and thus, stuffy, use groups of three. Whether it’s vases, wall art, or pillows, the rule of thirds can keep things looking symmetrical but not unnervingly perfect.

So, if you’re prepping to decorate your space, the rule of thirds, along with the 57-inch rule, are some helpful hints to keep in mind.

[Via Homes & Gardens]

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is the Assignments Editor at LifeSavvy. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer with a focus on beauty and lifestyle content. Her work has appeared in Bustle, Allure, and Hello Giggles. Read Full Bio »
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