Special Nonexistent Furniture

How to Arrange Decorative Accents

by Jackie Hernandez

Jackie Hernandez blogs at Teal & Lime, sharing her daily adventures taking a basic builder house and making it a DIY modern home. Jackie believes you are the best person to decorate your own home. Teal & Lime empowers readers to decorate in an easy and approachable way through simple DIY and decorating ideas, online decorating services, and decorating e-courses. Teal & Lime will inspire you to make it home, make it you.

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  • Do you have a hard time getting your decor to look just right? Wonder how stylists, interior designers, and bloggers do it?
     
    I'll let you in on a little secret. Although, there are no hard-and-fast rules in decorating, there are some simple tricks most decorators swear by. One of those is visual triangles.
     
    Remember the different types of triangles from geometry class? Isosceles, equilateral, and scalene. Well, thankfully, we don't have to worry about the specifics here—just know that a triangle has three sides and forms a point at the top.
     
    Visual triangles are a super easy guideline to use when arranging decor. The goal is to have one taller object either in the center or off center, with shorter objects tapering out on the sides like a triangle. It makes for an eye-pleasing arrangement.
     
    Here are three simple rules for decorating with visual triangles:
  • how to decorate with accents
    Photo: Jackie Hernandez
  • 1. Use the rule of three.


    You should arrange items in odd numbers like three, five, and seven. The easiest is three. In this image (above), the fan, three decorative boxes, and three mercury glass votives create a grouping of seven items.

    See how I styled this long, low dresser with odd number groupings.
  • Photo: Jackie Hernandez
  • 2. Consider the entire surface one large visual triangle.


    If you're decorating a mantel or an entire shelf, the entire arrangement should create a visual triangle.
  • how to decorate with accents
    Photo: Jackie Hernandez
  • 3. Then create smaller triangles.


    Within the larger visual triangle, group items into smaller visual triangles. See how the larger visual triangle on this shelf (above) is made up of three groupings that form smaller visual triangles.

    See more open shelf styling tips from my studio.

    Where Should You Use Visual Triangles?


    Everywhere. No, seriously. You can employ the visual triangle trick on any surface you're styling, from a bookshelf to a nightstand.

    I consistently fall back on creating visual triangles when it comes time to decorate the mantel. I have a seven-step formula I follow, called the Anatomy of a Decorated Mantel, and one of the key steps is arranging items in visual triangles.
  • how to decorate the mantel
    Photo: Jackie Hernandez
  • Employ these easy steps on your home and give any surface a quick makeover.
    • Clear off all the decor.
    • Now put everything back, but this time arranged in odd number groupings that create visual triangle

      ​See how much better it looks? And, it was super simple!
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