How to Use the 60-30-10 Rule in Interior Design

How to Use the 60-30-10 Rule for Interior Spaces

Revamp your interior design with our expert tips on how to apply the 60-30-10 rule. Create balanced color schemes and transform your space today. Read now!

Struggling with adding color to your white walls? The 60-30-10 rule can solve your struggles. This with this effective decorating rule you can easily create harmonious looks for any room in your home. By adding pops of color into your own home, you too can transform a dull dining room. Let’s take a closer look at how to use the 60-30-10 rule for interior design projects.

Understanding the 60-30-10 Rule

60-30-10 is a decorating rule designers use to create a balanced color palette. This strategy proposes that the primary color should make up 60% of the palette, with a secondary hue accounting for 30%, and an accent color composing 10%. This rule is a fool-proof way of ensuring that the colors in your color palette are not competing with one another.

The 60-30-10 rule is a guideline for inexperienced interior designers and decorators to create effective color palettes. This guideline is designed to help you achieve a harmonious look in your home, which can be especially helpful for those who are new to interior design.

Choosing a Dominant Color

Selecting the right dominant color to compose 60% of your color palette is essential for creating harmonious spaces. Choosing the right hue can be difficult, especially with the seemingly endless selection of paint colors available.

To ensure you pick the perfect main color for your room, it is helpful to select a hue that will work well with the amount of light that is available for the space you are designing. Lighting is an important factor to consider when selecting a dominant color for an interior space as it can drastically change the appearance of certain colors.

If you’re leaning towards moody colors, something as simple as a bright white ceiling can help with lighting a room.

Also, keep in mind any existing elements in the room when selecting a dominant color. Because the dominant color will be prevalent in the space, select one that will work well with any existing furniture, artwork, and other elements in the room.

Selecting a Secondary Color

The 60-30-10 rule suggests that your secondary hue should be incorporated into 30% of your design. When it comes to selecting a secondary hue, you’ll want to pick a color that compliments the dominant hue you’ve already chosen.

A good way to do this is to pick a color that is the same hue, but one that is a different shade, tone, or tint than your primary hue. This will help create a harmonious 60-30-10 color scheme for your room.

Keep in mind that shades are colors that have black added to them. Tones are colors with gray mixed in, and tints are colors that have been mixed with white. You can read more about shades, tones, and tints in our color theory post.

Thus, once you’ve selected a dominant color, you can then choose a secondary hue that is darker (shade), lighter (tint), or less intense (tone) than your primary hue. This will help establish balance in your color scheme because your dominant color and your secondary color will be monochromatic.

Incorporating an Accent Color

Adding an accent color is a great way to give your 60-30-10 color scheme depth and dimension. Accent colors are used to create visual interest and add contrast to your palette. When selecting an accent hue, you’ll want to pick a bold color that will stand out against the dominant hue and the secondary hue.

If your primary and secondary colors are monochromatic, the accent color is a great opportunity to introduce a different hue. A complementary color across the color wheel would be a great choice to incorporate contrast into your color scheme.

If you find that a complementary hue is not to your liking, you can use an analogous color on the color wheel as your accent color. For example, if your dominant color is pink and your secondary color is maroon, then you can use a shade, tone, or tint of orange or purple.

Alternatively, an accent color in a color scheme is the ideal place to use colors you may like but are afraid to use in large amounts. Pops of saturated colors, such as reds or yellows, are great options for accent colors because they will not feel overwhelming.

Applying the 60-30-10 Rule to a Color Palette

When it comes to applying the 60-30-10 rule to rooms, there are a few top tips to keep in mind. By following these guidelines, you can make a room interesting while achieving perfect balance.

When Choosing Colors, Start with the Dominant Color

Your dominant color should be the starting point for your color scheme. It’s the color that will cover the largest percentage of your space, so it’s important to choose it carefully. Look for a color that will set the tone for the room and create the mood you want to achieve.

Although the idea is to choose a color that will make up 60% of a room, don’t restrict yourself. You don’t have to use the same hue across a wall color and home decor. You can use variations of one hue.

Let’s say you’ve chosen blue as your dominant color. You like the idea of an accent wall in navy, but you’re unsure about using too much of this one color.

You can use different shades or tints of blue to reach that 60% benchmark. A light blue in an area rug or a piece of furniture like side chairs will add interest despite using one hue.

Choose a Secondary Color That Complements Your Dominant

Your secondary color should complement your dominant color and create a sense of harmony in the space. Consider choosing a color that is either lighter or darker than your dominant color, or a color that is complementary on the color wheel. This will help your colors work together rather than compete with each other.

Again, remember not to restrict your color choices to a single color. You can if you choose to, but utilizing varying shades of the same color can provide contrast and interest to any room.

Use the Accent Color Sparingly

Your accent color is the pop of color that will add visual interest and create contrast. It’s important to use this color sparingly, as it can quickly become overwhelming if overused. Consider using your accent color in small details like throw pillows, curtains, or artwork.

Because of its limited use, accent colors are where you can try colors you may like, but are afraid to use in large amounts.

However, when it comes to accent colors, you may want restrict yourself to only one color. You won’t get many chances to use it without affecting the overall balance of the color palette.

Other Aspects to Consider When Using the 60-30-10 Rule

Consider the Function of the Space

When choosing your colors, consider the function of the space. For example, you may want to use calming colors in a bedroom or relaxing colors in a living room. If you’re designing a home office, you may want to choose colors that promote focus and productivity.

When we design spaces for ourselves, we generally gravitate toward our favorite color. We may love black, but if our living room is small with little light, we may have to reconsider.

We could however decide to use black accent chairs or accessories.

Use Texture and Pattern to Add Interest

There are other ways to introduce color into a space without resorting to color blocking. Don’t forget that texture and pattern are also capable of carrying color. Consider using different textures like wool, linen, or silk to add depth and interest to your space. Patterned fabrics or wallpaper can also be a great way to add visual interest and tie your color scheme together.

Patterns work well in heavily trafficked areas like furniture, window treatments, and large rugs. Their intricate designs can help disguise dirt and wear.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the 60-30-10 Rule

Not Enough Variety

A common mistake that designers make when using the 60-30-10 rule is that they use colors that are too similar. Monochromatic color schemes can work, but if you are not utilizing various patterns, textures, or sheens then you run the risk of the space looking flat and uninspired.

Too Many Colors

Another mistake that people make is using too many colors in their room. Remember, the rule is 60-30-10, not 60-30-10-10-10! Using too many colors can make your space feel chaotic and overwhelming. Stick to three colors. You can use variations of those colors throughout the room for some variety.

Ignoring the Function of the Room

Another mistake that people make is ignoring the function of the space when choosing their colors. For example, using bright and bold colors in a bedroom may not be conducive to relaxation and sleep. Yes, color preference varies from person to person, but color psychology exists for a reason. Be sure to choose colors that fit the mood and purpose of the room if you or a client have no preference.

Not Considering Lighting

Lighting can have a big impact on the way colors appear in a room. Be sure to consider the natural light in the space, as well as any artificial lighting. Test your colors in different lighting conditions to make sure they still look good.


The 60-30-10 rule is a great starting point for creating pleasing color palettes. It’s important to remember that the 60-30-10 color rule should be used with consideration of the function of the room, lighting conditions, and other design elements. With careful thoughtfulness in choosing your colors within this simple yet effective guideline you can easily create sophisticated looks for any room in your home. So go ahead – try out the 60-30-10 color scheme rule the next time you design an interior space!

If you’d like to learn more about color schemes and how to create them, checkout this post.


The 60-30-10 rule is a guideline used in interior design to create a well-balanced color scheme. The rule suggests using 60% of a dominant color, 30% of a secondary color, and 10% of an accent color.

While the 60-30-10 rule suggests using three colors, it is possible to use more. However, adding more colors can make the space appear chaotic and overwhelming. Therefore, it is best to stick to three colors and use slight variations within the same color families.

Yes, the 60-30-10 rule is just a guideline and the percentages can be adjusted to fit your needs. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the 60-30-10 color ratio will generally provide the most balanced look. So, be sure to maintain the overall balance of the color scheme or you run the risk of the space looking chaotic and uncoordinated.

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