The 60-30-10 Color Rule

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If you admire the beautiful bedrooms featured in decorating magazines or pinned on Pinterest, but your own bedroom is entirely neutral because you think you don’t know how to work with color yourself, fear no more. There’s a simple rule that’s frequently used in interior decorating, and it makes adding color to a room nearly as easy as 1,2,3. Learn the 60-30-10 rule and apply it to your bedroom, and you’ll be the one proudly pinning your living space.

What is the 60-30-10 Rule?

You don’t need to be a mathematician to use the 60-30-10 rule in your décor, nor do you need a ruler or a calculator. The rule simply states that for the most balanced, appealing look, you should choose a three-color palette for decorating a room, and use it as follows:

  • Decorate 60% of the room with the dominant color
  • Decorate 30% of the room with the secondary color
  • Use the remaining color as an accent in 10% of the space

Like all decorating guidelines, the rule is not written in stone, and you don’t need to actually measure the space and figure the exact percentages. Just follow the basic idea: one dominant color for the majority of the space, a secondary color that fills roughly half as much space as the dominant color, and a third color (if you want to use two accent colors, then each gets 5% of the space) to add splashes of interest around the room.

How Does the Rule Work in the Bedroom?

Once you understand the 60-30-10 rule, you might wonder how to actually apply it to your bedroom. Luckily, it’s not too difficult. The dominant color is generally the color of your walls, and often your floor and largest piece of furniture. In most bedrooms, the dominant color is a shade of brown or tan, white or gray, but it can be any color you love enough to use on the walls.

The secondary color adds contrast to the room. Typically, this is the color used for furniture, curtains, area rugs, bedding or an accent wall. Any color works in the secondary role, as long as it complements the dominant color and pleases you.

The accent color adds spice to the bedroom. Often, this is a bright color, but not always – you might use black as your accent, or a metallic, or dark brown in a neutral room, or even a pastel. As long as your accent both contrasts and complements the other two colors, anything goes. Typical accent pieces include throw pillows, bedding, lamps and lampshades, artwork, small area rugs, small pieces of furniture, such as an ottoman or bench, candles and other collectibles or touches of color in the window treatments.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to use the exact same shade for each element of the rule: if your dominant color is blue, for example, you might have a darker blue on the walls and a lighter blue on the floors, but for the most effective use of the rule, the colors should be close, and definitely complementary.

Also, patterns that include colors outside your three basic shades are fine. Remember, this is a guideline – just stick with the basic idea and you’ll be fine.

What are Some Great Color Combinations?

Now that you understand the 60-30-10 rule, here are some palettes that work exceptionally well.

  • Dark blue as the dominant color, brown as the secondary shade and white or cream as the accent.
  • Green as the dominant color, blue as the secondary shade and yellow as the accent.
  • White as the dominant color, gray as the secondary shade and red as the accent.
  • Yellow as the dominant color, green as the primary shade and white as the accent.
  • Golden brown as the dominant color, dark brown as the secondary shade and black as the accent.
  • Blue as the dominant color, pink as the secondary shade and white as the accent.
  • Lavender as the dominant color, white as the secondary shade and dark blue as the accent.
  • Green as the dominant color, white as the secondary color and black as the accent.
  • Gray as the dominant color, white as the secondary color and yellow as the accent.
  • Peach as the dominant color, yellow as the secondary color and brown as the accent.