Have you ever wondered how designers and decorators get items to look just right? Here’s one of their “secrets”. Odd numbers.
There has been a lot of study of odd numbers in math and how they affect us aesthetically. I won’t dwell on that here but just know that you eye is usually more attracted to things in odds.
Remembering that one (1) is an odd number, how many groups of odds can you find in this photo of a staged room.
They are not all easy to see but here goes: 1) On the desk in the corner there are three items. 2) On the loveseat there are three pillows (the third is orange and difficult to see in the middle.) 3)On the tray sitting on the ottoman, there is a vase with twigs, chess set (with an odd number of pieces) and an apple. The ones (or singles) are more obvious. So, you might ask why add an apple to the tray, that’s just silly. Well, in design terms and for staging it’s not silly. The tray looked unfinished with just the vase and chess set. The apple added more color and balance on the tray.
Here is a vignette, (a collection that tells a “story” or of like items) created for a design client. Although there are four items in the photo the grouping of items on the table top is three (3), again an odd number. Removing the small acorn would still look okay because of the proximity of the wall art, but take out the chest and the acorn and the vignette would feel incomplete.
This display is another example of the use of three: the lamp, the candle and the floral arrangement.
3 towels, 1 vase with candle
Simply using the color pairing of the orange items would have felt incomplete without the
third item, the pinecone basket
Fireplace mantle and hearth- 5 items. To make this display the best it could be, a larger piece of artwork should have been used, or the candle sticks and vase moved in closer to the wall art.
When placing objects on a ledge or shelf, try grouping them in odd numbers, leaving some space between the groups and varying the heights. This method adds more interest than a lineal set-up as in the Before photo.
Although we designers and decorators implement the use of odds in a lot of our work, this does not mean that using odd numbers of elements is the ONLY way to go. Sometimes pairs also work if they keep the display in balance.
Start looking at decor and design photos and see if you can pick out the not-so-obvious use of odd numbers with objects and try it in your own home.