Save time and money by adding color to your room using the 60-30-10 Rule. This guideline applies to all colors in all design styles, including monochromatic design!
Adding color to a space can be quite difficult. There’s so many colors, shades, tone and combinations possible, it’s no wonder why it can be overwhelming. When decorating with color, I find it’s easier to use rules or guidelines for those new to color or those D.I.Y. people who need a bit of assistance. As you approach a more confident level of color, feel free to throw all the rules out the window and have some fun!
The 60-30-10 Rule is meant to create harmony within the space by assigning percentages to the colors that you use. This rule can apply to any color palette or even monochromatic rooms. There is no technical measurement or method of calculation here to determine the exact percent so use your judgement.
60% | Main Color
This color consumes 60% of the room. It is the main color for your room. Usually, this will be a neutral color or muted color that can take up a lot of space without feeling overwhelming. This is typically the paint colors on your wall, area rug or furniture color or possible cabinetry or tile in the case of kitchens and baths. The idea is that the 60 percent color anchors the space and also serves as a backdrop for what comes next.
30% | Secondary Color
This color consumes 30% of the room. It is the secondary color which is typically a bit bolder. The main purpose of the secondary color is to provide contrast. You’ll be using half as much of this color as your main color. It’s different enough from the main color to provide interest, but not steal the show. This could be draperies, accent wall, linens, side chairs, etc. The key here is to vary the tones of this accent color to keep the room interesting.
10% | Accent Color
This color consumes 10% of the room. It is the accent color. This is typically found in throw pillows and small accessories in the room. This is the place to play around with a variety of color families, patterns, and textures.
In the above examples, the 60-30-10 is to the right of the image they belong to. Now I’ve chosen pictures with color for obvious examples.
- In the first image white is clearly the primary color. It’s in the ceiling and walls. The secondary color is yellow because it’s in the couch, area rug and the artwork on the wall, while is the accent color because it’s really only in the accent chairs.
- In the second image the light blue is the primary color. It consumes the wall and becomes the focal point. White is the secondary colors in the credenza, artwork and lampshades. Lastly, the teal is the accent color for 10% for reasons similar to the first.
- In the third image beige is the primary color. It’s the neutral backdrop for the room. Here’s where this particular design switches it up a bit. Unlike the previous pictures and my fore-mentioned statements, the couch here is one of the only item in this design in a chartreuse color thereby making it the 10% accent color. Black on the other hand is in a number of accessories, including the area rug, end tables, art work and throw pillows that it supersedes the chartreuse color and takes place for the secondary color. This still follows the 60-30-10 Rule but varies in how it’s achieved.
What is monochromatic? Well, by definition monochromatic means “containing or using only one color.” So how does a design with only one color work? The 60-30-10 Rule still applies here and let me explain how.
When we think of monochromatic homes, Designers think of shades, not color. As humans, we associate this with dark black, black, dark gray, light gray, off white and white. But it can also be dark pink, hot pink, bubble gum pink, medium pink, and pastel pink. Monochromatic is essentially a single color in its darkest shade that continues to be diluted by white to produce a series of other colors. Here is an example of a single color in different shades:
As you can see, each room uses a single color in varying shades. This is what creates a layered look in a monochromatic design. These rooms still follow the 60-30-10 Rule. We’ll talk about monochromatic rooms more in-depth on a later post.
I hope this post has helped you learn how to implement color to your designs using the 60-30-10 Rule.