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Shelf Styling – Rule of Threes

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Rule of three - shelf styling (Sunny Side Up)

My butler’s pantry shelf is one of my favorite spots to decorate!  When I designed this kitchen I wanted some open shelving that could hold useful kitchen items, but that was also a spot I could decorate and use to add a touch of my personality to our home.

Rule of three - shelf styling (Sunny Side Up)

{Details on how we made the heart tissue banner HERE}

To be honest, when we first moved into this home my excitement over these “perfect shelves to decorate” wore off quickly.  I really struggled styling this shelf!  I struggled styling all of my shelves that first year in our home.  Shelf styling is harder than it looks.  Finding that perfect balance of colors and objects that blend well together, mixing textures and sizes, layering pieces, keeping it visually interesting without too much clutter.  Ahh!  It’s a lot to think about!  Two things have been the most helpful to me when styling the shelves in my home.  Number 1 is practice.  Shelf styling is something that you have to play around and experiment with to get better at and the more you do it, the more you learn what type of look you love and what works best in your home.

Number 2 is the rule of threes.  Maybe you’ve heard of this?  If not I hope this is helpful!  If you have I hope it’s a good reminder. :)  The rule of threes is a popular concept in so many areas – business, productivity, survival and of course.. in design.  I use the rule of threes ALL THE TIME throughout my home (especially when I style shelves) and most of the time I don’t even realize it until after I’ve done it!  Objects grouped in threes really do flow and appeal to us visually.

Rule of three - shelf styling (Sunny Side Up)

You can see in my Valentine shelf decor above I’ve created five different groups of three.  Three small striped bowls stacked on the top left.  On the middle shelf I have a large group of three with the pink jar, wooden tray and XOXO plate.  To the right is a large group of three with my stacked plates, a cake stand and some mugs with straws.  The three mugs with straws are another group of three.  Last I have a group of three items on the right side of my counter with a white cake stand, pink bowls and a red heart bowl holding candy.  (Toss in some candy to really make your shelves stand out.) ;)

Rule of three - shelf styling (Sunny Side Up)

If you are struggling to decorate a spot in your home (shelves, coffee table, console table.. whatever!) try taking your items off and put some of them back in groups of three.  Let me know if you’d like to see more examples of this in a future post!  Like I mentioned, I do it all the time when I decorate.  Even when I don’t realize I’m doing it. :)

Rule of three - shelf styling (Sunny Side Up)

A few more pics of my kitchen!  I’ve really enjoyed all of the pink and red touches this year.

Rule of three - shelf styling (Sunny Side Up)

I’m on the hunt for new light fixtures to go over my islands that flow a little better with the pendant in my bay window.  I won’t switch them out until I find “the ones” which according to my husband “will take years.”  Ha.  He’s right.  I’m a slow decorator because I want to LOVE EVERY SINGLE THING in my home.

Rule of three - shelf styling (Sunny Side Up)

I can’t help it.  If loving everything I bring into this home is wrong, I don’t want to be right. ;)

Rule of three - shelf styling (Sunny Side Up)

Really my husband should just be grateful I’ve kept HIM around in this home for so long if I’m as picky as he seems to think I am.

Happy early Valentine’s Day babe!  My gift to you is one more year with me.  Lucky guy!  You are so very welcome.    



xoxo, Erin
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18 thoughts on “Shelf Styling – Rule of Threes

  1. Love your Blog. Thank you for sharing such wonderful ideas for decor!! I am currently painting my kitchen and am looking into gray’s that do not have a green, purple hue to them . I’m looking for a basic gray. What paint color did you use in your kitchen or in your home that had no hue’s to it and looks like a true gray? Thank you!!

  2. Love your decorations for Valentines Day. Where is the heart garland in the butler’s pantry from? Thank you

  3. I love your kitchen. Groups of three are definitely more pleasing to the eye. Also less is best I think. Easier to enjoy each item instead too many items.

  4. Thanks for this reminder, Erin! I use the rule of threes on the cards I make, but I don’t know that I’ve ever consciously thought of it for shelf styling. Well, who am I kidding? I’ve never really styled a shelf. Haha! But when I do, I’m going to remember this! I have always enjoyed seeing how you decorate your butler’s pantry. It’s so visually appealing. Good luck with your light situation. Meantime, your kitchen is gorgeous as is! Your husband is indeed a lucky, lucky guy! Have a great rest of your week! :)

    1. Jeanne! I am cracking up. You are too funny! We need to get together. Make a few cards.. style a few shelves. It would be a good time for sure! You are so sweet to say that about Kenny being lucky. I was being very sarcastic.. I can be a handful I assure you. But so can he so it all works out. ;) Thanks for the fun comment! Made my day. :) Enjoy yours! xo

  5. Erin, I loved your comment about being a SLOW decorator… that is me also! I totally agree with only getting what you absolutely love. So, know you are not alone in that :)

    1. I’m so happy to hear I’m not alone Clare! My husband always teases me that our house will be “done” about the time our kids all move out. Ha. I can think of worse things. ;) xo

  6. Funny you’re looking for new “perfect” pendants, are you ever tempted to change it up a little by swapping your hardware to brass? My kitchen is very similar to yours and I did it circa 2016 (with similar pendants) and I’m soooo tempted to change my hardware to brass and change the pendants to match. I blame McGee & co for this lol. (Btw the pendants she used in her new home are so very perfect). But like you, I’m a slow decorator so by the time I take the plunge, brass might be on its way out ha!
    Have a wonderful day Erin! It’s almost Friday! :)

    1. So funny you mentioned that Maria! I’ve thought about it before! But I don’t know.. I still love my silver hardware even though it isn’t as on trend right now. And like you said.. it will probably be on its way out soon after we switched! Ha. I LOVE Shea’s pendants too. Everything she has shared of her home is stunning! No surprise there. You’ll have to let me know if you decide to make the change! And send pics! :)

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