How to balance a room perfectly with colour using this one simple rule

I am often asked by clients how to achieve a balanced room using colour. Although it may look daunting, it is in fact very simple, following the 60-30-10 colour rule in interior design. This adds balance and depth to a room. It helps to build a room that looks and feels cohesive and pulled together but also doesn't allow it to be too matchy-matchy.


 A well designed room is based on balance of colour. Following this rule, 60% of a room can be filled with a dominant colour, 30% a secondary colour and 10% with a single or a couple of accent colours. In a room this is best achieved by 60% of the room’s dominant colour on the walls, carpets/rugs and large furniture pieces, 30% of the room’s secondary colour, which creates dimension and should be in a colour that creates a harmonious space, can be found in accent furniture, area rugs, wood trim, textiles, etc. and the remaining 10% of accent colour found in the artwork, cushions and other decor items. This is the colour which adds the magic in your space, the wow factor, it is present in the small details which adds the final touch. You can create this in the form of scatter cushions and/or throws, artwork or decor accessories. The accent colour is bold, brave and outstanding. It is there to create visual interest. With adding an accent colour, you will bring freshness to your room.


So, to recap, this is how it plays out .... 60% of a room’s colour is achieved through a dominant wall colour - either paint or wallpaper, as well as flooring or large area rugs and large-scale furniture (this should be the main colour you want to build your colour palette from). 30% of colour will come from furniture, textiles, lighting, etc. (the key here is to vary the tones of this accent colour to keep the room interesting). 10% is the area to play around with a variety of colour families, patterns and textures, like for example mixing metallics and wood together. Bear in mind that 10% is not a hard-and-fast rule, but rather the idea that a few bold choices can go a long way to adding depth and pizzaz to a room.


DESIGN FGR Architects | PHOTOGRAPHY Peter Bennetts | INTERIOR STYLING Hunter May Designs

In the image above, you can see how the 60-30-10 rule has been achieved in a monochromatic colour scheme. Monochromatic colour schemes are derived from a single base hue and extended using its shades, tones and tints. Tints are achieved by adding white, shades and tones are achieved by adding a darker colour like grey or black. Here pale grey dominates 60% of the room, darker charcoal grey is the secondary colour and the natural wood elements take up the last 10%.


Image Credit: Carina Romano

In the image above black is the main colour for creating a moody space, natural wood tones are added to calm the space down, while white and metallic make it look chic and trendy.



This coastal room has used whites and natural wood elements as the main colour scheme, with shades of blue as a secondary colour, while small touches of red bring up the last 10% of the colour palette.


60% white, 30% yellow and 10% black ties everything together.

This image allows you to see how a bold colour such as yellow has a contemporary feel without it being overpowering. Yellow can be a scary colour to use in decor, and it certainly is not an easy colour to use as there are so many shades of yellow, but when done properly, you can pull off a show stopping room that your friends will envy.


Whatever your most favourite colours are, you can incorporate them into your home by utilising the 60-30-10 decorating rule. If you are afraid of colour, you can always remain monochromatic in your decorating style, but still keep to the basic rule of colour proportions.


When you create a monochromatic colour scheme, your main, secondary and accent colours, can be varying shades of the same colour, rather than three separate colours. A neutral grey can be your 60% main colour, a deeper shade of the same grey is stunning as your 30% secondary colour, and a paler shade of your grey lightens up the scheme as your 10% accent colour. A neutral monochromatic colour scheme creates an extremely relaxing space in your home and exudes an aura of sophistication and elegance as witnessed in the image below.



Image Credit: My Scandanavian Home

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Contact Kelly on 071 497 7262 or kelly@urbandezign.co.za