Decorate Using the Two-Thirds Rule

I don’t know how many times I’ve decorated a coffee table, or tried to add some accent pieces to a room, but something just wasn’t right. You can use the most exquisite ornaments, but if they aren’t in scale or in proper proportion with the rest of the room, your design will never work.


Basic math is all you need to determine if you’re on the right design track. Just remember one simple fraction – two-thirds.┬áThis rule applies to everything from drapery, to the amount of furniture in a given room, the size of a fireplace mantel, wall paper, or even the number of accessories on a coffee table.

When looking at drapery, the panels along the sides of the window should be one-third the width of the window. A fireplace and mantel should be about one-third the size of the wall. The artwork or mirror hanging above the back of a bed or sofa should be about two-thirds the width of the sofa or bed.

Most people buy sofas that are too large, and rugs that are too small for their homes. Your furniture should take up about two-thirds of the floor space leaving one-third vacant for traffic flow. Even a coffee table should be about two-thirds the width of your sofa.

A large dresser in a small room doesn’t have to be a bad thing, if you balance it out with a dark wall color, large framed artwork and luxurious carpeting.

One of the worst decorating mistakes is hanging a small chandelier in a large room. Calculate the diameter of the room by multiplying the width of the room by two. Whatever your total diameter is in feet, the chandelier should be the same diameter in inches.

You can use the two-thirds rule with flower arranging as well. Your vase should be about one-third the height of the arrangement. When hanging wallpaper border, measure the height of your walls and divide by three. Hang the border about one-third from the top or two-thirds from the bottom.

I won’t promise all your decorating ventures will be successful, but use the two-thirds rule and at least the proportion will be right on.

Article by Nutshell Realty, Hudson Valley real estate experts. Visit for an online guide to Hudson Valley, Catskill and High Falls NY real estate.

Image Credits: benweyl


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