What Is The 60-30-10 Rule In Design And How To Use It

Discover the 60-30-10 rule in interior design, learn to use the color wheel effectively, and apply this rule even in monochrome spaces.

What Is The 60-30-10 Rule In Design And How To Use It
how to use color rules in design | Sidekix Media/Unsplash

You might have heard about the 60-30-10 rule, but what exactly is it? In short, it's a tried-and-true guideline that helps create cohesive and balanced interior designs. This simple yet effective rule can transform any room into a harmonious haven using the right colors, patterns and textures.

In this post, we look at the key principles and concepts and address common questions about the rule, including how many colors you should use in a room and how can using the color wheel can help you choose the right color scheme. This knowledge will help you create spaces you'll love.

What is the 60-30-10 rule in design and how to use it?

The 60-30-10 rule is a design principle that suggests allocating 60% of a room's color to a dominant hue, 30% to a secondary color, and 10% to an accent color. This rule serves as a foundation for achieving balance and visual interest by proportionally dividing color usage. By understanding how to apply this rule effectively, you can create a harmonious color scheme that brings together different elements in a room.

How to use 60-30-10 color rule in design
How to use the 60-30-10 color rule in design | Collov Home Design/Unsplash

How many colors should you use in a room?

When using the 60-30-10 rule, you should use a combination of three colors: a primary color that makes up 60% of the room, a secondary color that covers 30%, and an accent color that accounts for the remaining 10%. Instead of overwhelming the space with numerous colors, this rule encourages a thoughtful and balanced approach by limiting the color palette to three primary shades.

use the color wheel to choose your color scheme
Use the color wheel as your guidance | wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

How to use the color wheel to choose your color scheme

The color wheel is an essential tool for choosing the perfect color scheme for your space. It helps you identify complementary, analogous, and triadic color schemes that work well together. When selecting your primary, secondary and accent colors, consider the relationships between these colors on the color wheel to ensure they complement each other and create visual harmony.

How to incorporate the 60-30-10 rule in color schemes

Let's look at what each percentage represents and explore creative ways to incorporate each color to maintain balance and unity throughout the space.

The 60% color rule: choose a dominant color for a room's walls, rugs and other more prominent elements.

The dominant color accounts for 60% of the room's color scheme. This hue should be applied to more prominent elements such as walls, rugs, and significant furniture. Choosing a dominant color establishes a cohesive backdrop for the room, setting the stage for the secondary and accent colors to shine.

60/30/10 color rule
Pick a dominant color | Devon Janse van Rensburg/Unsplash

The 30% color rule: use a secondary color for window treatments, furniture, or an accent wall.

The 30% proportion is for the secondary color, which should be a complementary or contrasting hue that adds depth and interest to the space. Use this color for window treatments, upholstered furniture, or even an accent wall.

dominant color accounts for 60% of the room's color scheme
Choose a dominant color | New Africa/Shutterstock

The 10% color rule: select a third color for small decor pieces.

The remaining 10% is reserved for the accent color, which should be a bolder, more vibrant hue that adds a pop of personality to the room. Incorporate this color through decorative items like throw pillows, artwork, and accessories.

How to use the 60-30-10 rule
How to use the 60-30-10 rule | Josh Hemsley/Unsplash

How to apply it in a monochromatic design scheme

Monochromatic design refers to a color scheme that utilizes varying shades of a single color. When applying the 60-30-10 rule in monochromatic aesthetics, the percentages remain the same, but the shades within the chosen color are varied.

Monochromatic design | Followtheflow/Shutterstock

Instead of using different colors, focus on varying shades, tones, and textures within the same color family. The dominant shade should make up 60% of the room, while the secondary shade covers 30%, and a contrasting or lighter hue accounts for the remaining 10%.

Do you have to follow the 60-30-10 design rule?

While the 60-30-10 rule is a widely recognized principle in interior design, it's important to note that it serves as a guideline rather than a strict rule. Following this rule helps achieve color balance and harmony, but it's not an absolute requirement for every design. Some interior designers may deviate from this rule to create unique and unconventional spaces that reflect their personal style or that of their clients.

When the rule doesn’t work

Despite its effectiveness, there may be instances when the 60-30-10 rule doesn't work as expected. Every space is unique, and certain design concepts or personal preferences may call for a departure from this rule.

For example, a minimalist design scheme may benefit from a more restrained color palette with a dominant color and minimal use of secondary and accent colors. Conversely, a vibrant and eclectic design scheme might require a more fluid and flexible approach to color distribution.

Color swatches
Color swatches| Pinkcandy/Shutterstock 

Don't be afraid to break it

Design rules are meant to be guidelines, not constraints. Creativity often thrives when rules are intentionally broken. While the 60-30-10 rule is a strong design foundation, you can experiment and deviate from it to create a design that aligns with your vision and objectives. Trust your instincts and use the rule as a starting point, adapting it to suit your unique style and the specific requirements of your space, be that a bedroom, living room, kitchen or bathroom.

The 60-30-10 color palette

The 60-30-10 color palette follows the principle that suggests allocating 60% of a room's color to a dominant hue, 30% to a secondary color, and 10% to an accent color. This rule helps maintain balance and visual interest by proportionally dividing color usage.

60-30-10 color rule
Color palette inspired by the 60-30-10 color rule | Ahmed Amir/Unsplash

By incorporating a color palette that follows this rule into your interior design scheme, you can create a cohesive and harmonious space that captivates the eye. Remember that while the rule provides a helpful framework, it's essential to consider individual circumstances, personal preferences, and the overall desired aesthetic to create a truly remarkable interior design.


In conclusion, the 60-30-10 rule is a powerful tool for creating visually appealing and balanced interiors. By understanding its principles and leveraging the color wheel, you can transform any space into a harmonious haven that reflects your personal style. If you're eager to learn more about interior design and further hone your skills, join our design school and unlock the secrets to creating beautiful and functional living spaces.

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What is the 60-30-10 rule example?

An example of the 60-30-10 rule in interior design is a living room with 60% of the space featuring a soft beige as the primary color, 30% incorporating a deep navy blue as the secondary color, and 10% of the room showcasing a bold coral as the accent color.

Do neutrals count in the 60-30-10 rule?

Yes, neutrals can count in the 60-30-10 rule. In fact, using a neutral color as either the primary or secondary color often helps create a balanced and harmonious space. Neutrals can work well with a variety of other colors, making it easy to incorporate a bold accent color for visual interest.

What is the 60-30-10 rule for color generator?

A color generator is a digital tool that helps you create harmonious color schemes based on the 60-30-10 rule or other design principles. These generators typically allow you to input your desired primary color. Then they generate complementary secondary and accent colors to complete the 60-30-10 proportions. Some color generators let you explore color schemes, such as complementary, analogous, or triadic combinations.

What is the 60-30-10 rule black and white?

The 60-30-10 rule can be applied to a black-and-white color scheme using different shades of gray to create balance and visual interest. In this approach, different shades of gray are primary and secondary colors. At the same time, white serves as the accent color, creating a cohesive and visually appealing space.

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