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The 60-30-10 Color Rule: What You Should Know

The 60-30-10 Color Rule: What You Should Know
4 min. read
Color palette

Image: RomanR / Shutterstock.com

When it comes to color, getting it right can be tricky. Have you ever thought, “But, I loved this color when I picked it out,” or “We just painted; why does this room still not look right?” If so, it might be because you didn’t follow the color rules.

While there is a LOT to know about color, there is one rule that even designers follow to help get the balance right. It’s called the 60-30-10 rule, and here’s what you need to know about how to get fabulous color in your home.

What Is the 60-30-10 Color Rule?

Simply put, the 60-30-10 rule is a guide to help ensure the right distribution of color when decorating your home. What it means is that 60% of your space should be one color, 30% of the space should be a secondary color and 10% should be an accent color. But, before you can successfully apply this rule, you have to have a color palette.

How to Select a Color Palette for Your Home

It can be tough to choose a group of colors that work well together — and that you like enough to want to look at every day. Fortunately, the quickest and easiest way to choose a color palette you love is to steal it!

Because your color palette should start in the living room, go there and choose a pattern that you love. For example, some people like to use the largest pattern in the room, such as a rug, a piece of upholstered furniture or a large piece of art. However, it really can be any pattern that speaks to you. So, look to throw pillows, baskets or even book covers for inspiration if you’re stuck.

How to Use the 60-30-10 Rule

If you’re worried about how to accurately divide your space to achieve the right percentage of each color, don’t be! The rule is a guideline to help you create balance. As such, you can eyeball it and feel fairly confident that you’ve got it right. In the meantime, here are some loose guidelines to help you apply the 60-30-10 rule in your home.

Dominant Color = 60% (a little more than half the room):

  • Walls
  • Area rug
  • Sofa

Secondary Color = 30% (about half of the dominant color):

  • Curtains
  • Accent chairs
  • Painted furniture
  • Accent wall

Accent Color = 10% (just enough to draw your eye around the room)

  • Throw pillows
  • Blankets
  • Lamps
  • Artwork
  • Decorative accessories

Remember, these are not hard and fast rules. Mix and match to create your own balanced palette.

How to Use the 60-30-10 Rule in Different Style Homes

Certain interior design styles have their own tried and true color combinations. As an example, if you have a traditional home and want a color scheme to match, choose a light neutral in the beige family for the walls. Then, pair that with a dark taupe, grey or brown as a secondary color. Lastly, add a classic color such as cranberry or forest green for accents.

On the other hand, modern homes are often more monochromatic with either dark grey or bright white walls and black, grey or greige secondary colors. In this style, accent colors are minimal or left out completely in favor of an abundance of texture.

Alternatively, a coastal home most often features a very light dominant color, with grey or beige as a secondary color, as well as plenty of blue accents.

Creating Flow with Color

A great way to create flow and continuity throughout your home is through the use of consistent colors. But, rest assured, this doesn’t mean you have to use the exact same color palette and distribution of color in every room of your house.

For instance, the accent color in your living room might be the dominant color in your dining room and the secondary color in your kitchen. You can also use darker and lighter versions of the same color to maintain consistency and create flow from one room to the next.

If you have an open-concept home, keep in mind that using a single dominant color in any areas that can be seen from the same vantage point will help create unity throughout your home.

Don’t Forget About Texture

If you follow the 60-30-10 rule and still feel like something is off in your room, you may be lacking texture. No matter how great your colors are, texture is what brings a room to life. Therefore, be sure to include a variety of smooth and rough surfaces to complement your newly balanced color palette.

Now that you know what the 60-30-10 color rule is all about, go ahead and experiment with it in your home. We’d love to hear how it worked out for you!

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